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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.”

Using Natural Allergy Remedies: Plan

Most people don’t think about their allergies until their symptoms flare up. But if you’ve already got a drippy nose and watery eyes before you reach for a bottle, it may be too late.

“Once an allergic reaction starts, it’s very hard to stop – either with supplements or medications,” Leopold tells WebMD. “That’s why it’s always important to focus on prevention.”

Whether you’re using an allergy supplement or a drug, you should plan ahead. Start taking a natural allergy remedy a few weeks before ragweed season starts or before your visit to the aunt with six cats. That way, you can potentially prevent the allergic reaction from happening at all.

Leopold says that while some people are able to control their allergies with supplements alone, others can’t. Even if it can’t do the whole job, however, an allergy supplement may still be a good addition to your drug treatment.

“By adding on a supplement like quercetin or butterbur, you might be able to take a lower dose of the prescription drug while getting the same benefits,” says Leopold.  “And by keeping the medication at a lower level, you decrease the side effects.”

Other Nondrug Allergy Treatments

Supplements aren’t the only alternative to medications. There are a number of other methods you can try to treat or prevent allergies, some of which have very good evidence backing them up.

  • Environmental control. Reducing the amount of allergens in your home, especially your bedroom, can take a lot of work and vigilance. But the payoff can be tremendous. Wrap your mattress in plastic, vacuum regularly, and follow other suggestions for environmental control.
  • Nasal irrigation. It might seem odd, but there’s good evidence that flushing out the nasal passages with salt water can help allergy symptoms. Some use simple neti pots and others more elaborate devices.

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