Herbs have magnificent healing powers and can be used to treat many serious yet common ailments and to boost your health.


Allergies > Alternative medicines

Alternative Medicines

There are a number of alternative medicines available for treating allergies.

- Chinese herbal medicine
- Homeopathy
- Herbal remedies
- Nutritional supplements
- Food avoidance
- Saline nasal washes
- Acupuncture

These are often used by people who do not want to use drugs (eg antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestantants). However, there is no good evidence that alternative medicine improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

In Chinese herbal medicine, 10 or more herbs are boiled in water and used as a soup. Those available for allergic rhinitis include Turtle shell, Cistanche combination, and Jade Screen powder. There is no good evidence that these reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

Read our article about the basics of allergy testing


Homeopathic medicine is based on the concept that a substance that can produce certain symptoms in healthy people may be able to treat people who are ill with those symptoms, if the substance is given in very small doses.

The benefits of homeopathic medicine are controversial, but most well-designed studies have found no evidence in favour of using it. However, as homeopathic medicine is completely safe, they are no risks in trying it.

You can obtain homeopathic medicine from the pharmacy, or you can visit a homeopathic practitioner who will prepare you a treatment tailored to your symptoms and lifestyle. Homeopathic remedies for allergic rhinitis include: onion (Allium cepa), eyebright (Euphrasia), windflower (Pusatilla), and the poison nut (a seed from the tree Nux vomica).

Herbal Remedies

The following herbal remedies have anti-inflammatory properties and have been suggested for treating allergic rhinitis. However, there is no good evidence to prove that they are beneficial.

- Nettle leaf
- Quercetin
- Bromelain

Other herbal supplements that are available for the treatment of allergic rhinitis include chamomile, coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), cleavers (Gallium aparine), ginger root (Zingiber officinalis) elderberry (Sambucus nigra), and eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis).

Nutritional Supplements

The following nutritional supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and have been suggested for treating allergic rhinitis. However, there is no good evidence to prove that they are beneficial:

- Vitamin C
- N-acetylcystein

Food Avoidance

People allergic to pollen may also have allergic reactions to certain foods. After eating these foods, people may develop symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These foods should therefore be avoided.

Saline Nasal Washes

Rinsing the nasal passages with saline solution is suggested to remove allergens from the nasal passages. There is little evidence that this directly improves the symptoms of allergic rhinitis


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine. Very fine needles are inserted into selected areas on the body with the aim of altering the way the body functions. There is no good evidence for the use of acupuncture in allergic rhinitis.


Jaber R. Respiratory and allergic diseases: from upper respiratory tract infections to asthma. Prim Care 2002;29:231.

Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. Natural remedies of perennial allergic rhinitis. Altern Med Rev 2000;5:448–454

Ziment I, Tashkin DP. Alternative medicine for allergy and asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000;106:603–614.