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.
“I think more Americans need to get used to nasal irrigation,” says Leopold. “It’s very effective and it makes clear sense. You’re flushing away the things that are irritating your nasal membranes.” In one study of children with allergies, nasal irrigation three times a day dramatically improved their symptoms after three to six weeks. It also allowed them to take lower doses of their allergy drugs.