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What Natural Allergy Remedies Work? continued...

Be particularly wary of bitter orange (also called Citrus aurantium), which is sometimes sold as a decongestant. It has compounds similar to those in ephedra and, as a result, may have serious side effects. They include an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and stroke.

What about supplements for other types of allergies, such as skin reactions or food allergies? Unfortunately, researchers haven’t found much evidence for supplements that can help. Rakel says that while there’s some interesting preliminary evidence about the effects of probiotics on food allergies, more research is needed.

Natural Allergy Remedies: 3 Tips for Safety

When it comes to allergy supplement safety, here are three things to keep in mind.

Risks and interactions. On the whole, the top allergy supplements seem to be reasonably safe. But check with a doctor before taking a supplement if you

  • Have any medical conditions
  • Use other daily medication
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are under 18 years old

Always follow the dosing advice of your doctor or pharmacist -- or at least the directions on the label.

Long-term use. The longer you take any supplement (or drug), the greater the potential for toxicity and harm. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence about the safety of using these natural allergy remedies for extended periods. So be cautious. Get your doctor’s opinion on any long-term treatments you want to try.

Allergic reactions. There’s another problem for people seeking allergy supplements: Many of the plants used for allergy treatment -- such as butterbur, echinacea, and several others – are distant cousins to ragweed. So if you’re suffering from a ragweed allergy, a dose of allergy supplements could theoretically make your symptoms worse.

“I’ve seen people who come into our offices because their ragweed allergies are being aggravated by their allergy supplements,” says Rakel. “Usually, the first thing we do is get them off all the stuff they’re using. The human body doesn’t generally need a handful of supplements every day to stay well.”

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