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Relieve Allergy Symptoms Without Drugs

Want a natural remedy for your runny nose and other nasal allergy symptoms? Natural allergy treatments can't replace medical care, but they can work alongside drugs. They can help get your symptoms under control. From acupuncture to supplements, here are natural treatments that may help you breathe easier.

Acupuncture. This treatment originally comes from China. An expert inserts tiny needles gently -- and, many people say, painlessly -- into spots on your body. There's evidence that it helps with allergies. One 2013 study found that eight weeks of acupuncture lessened allergy symptoms. It worked well enough that people were able to take lower doses of allergy drugs, too.

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Allergy-proofing your home. You can't stop pollen from blowing outside. But you do have some control over what happens inside your home. Keep the windows shut when pollen is in the air. Run the air conditioning. If you can, change your clothes before coming inside (or as soon as you get in), remove your shoes, and shower.

HEPA filters. Studies are mixed about whether air filters help with allergy symptoms, since far more allergens rest on surfaces like rugs, furniture, and countertops. Cleaning is an important step in controlling your allergy and asthma triggers. If you buy an air filter, make sure it's a HEPA filter. These capture fine, pollen-size particles. It's a good idea to get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, too. Regular vacuums can just blow allergens back into the air.

Probiotics. These are healthy bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract. While there are conflicting reports, some studies show that probiotics may lessen allergy symptoms such as running nose and congestion. You can get them naturally from foods like yogurt and kefir. They're also available in supplements.

Protection. If it's allergy season, keep your triggers at bay. Don't take part in outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. Pollen peaks between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day. But if you go out to garden or clean the garage, wear a dust mask and sunglasses to keep allergens out of your nose, mouth, and eyes.

Saline sprays. These non-prescription salt water sprays can flush out your nasal passages. They help clear out pollen and other allergens.

Supplements. There's evidence that some supplements help nasal allergies. Butterbur is one of the most promising and well-researched. Studies suggest that butterbur -- specifically a butterbur extract called Ze 339 -- works as well as some allergy drugs. Since butterbur is related to ragweed, some have raised concern that butterbur might increase allergy symptoms if you have a ragweed allergy. However, that has not been seen in medical studies, even in people with ragweed allergies. There's evidence that other supplements, such as quercetin and tinospora cordifolia, may help with allergy symptoms, too.

Check with your doctor before you start using any supplements regularly, especially if you take daily medication or have any health conditions.

Natural allergy remedies can make a difference. Just remember that they shouldn't replace medications and other treatments. If your allergy symptoms aren't improving, and the symptoms are interfering with your life, see a doctor. Medications, allergy shots, or other treatments could make your life a lot better.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on March 07, 2013

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