Relieve Allergy Symptoms Without Drugs

Want a natural remedy for your stuffy, runny, itchy nose? Natural treatments can't replace your allergy medications, but they can work alongside them. From acupuncture to supplements, here are some simple things that might help you breathe easier.

Acupuncture. In this ancient Chinese therapy, an expert sticks tiny needles gently -- and, many people say, painlessly -- into your skin at specific points. There's evidence that it might help with allergies. One 2013 study found that 8 weeks of acupuncture cut allergy symptoms. It worked so well that people were able to take lower doses of their allergy drugs.

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 your windows shut when pollen is in the air. Run the air conditioning instead. 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. That’s because far more allergens rest on surfaces like rugs, furniture, and countertops than simply hang in the air. So 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-sized particles. It's a good idea to get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, too. Regular vacuums can blow allergens back into the air.

Probiotics. These are healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. While there are conflicting reports, some studies show that probiotics might reduce allergy symptoms such as runny nose and congestion. You can get them naturally from foods like yogurt and the milk drink kefir. They're also available in supplements.

Protection. If it's allergy season, keep your triggers at bay. Don't do outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. Most pollen peaks between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day, and can also be high around midday when it’s warm and windy. And anytime you garden or clean the garage, wear a dust mask and sunglasses to keep allergens out of your nose, mouth, and eyes.


Saline sprays. These over-the-counter salt water sprays can flush out your nasal passages. They help clear out pollen and other irritants.

Supplements. There's evidence that some supplements help nasal allergies. Butterbur is one of the most promising and well-researched. Studies show that butterbur -- specifically a butterbur extract called Ze 339 -- works as well as some allergy drugs. There's evidence that other supplements, such as quercetin, may help, 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 symptoms aren't improving and they’re affecting your life, see a doctor. Medications, allergy shots, or other treatments could make things better.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 8, 2016



AAFA: "Air Filters."

AAAAI: "Indoor Allergens: Tips to Remember."

Brinkhaus, B. Annals of Internal Medicine, Feb. 19, 2013.

Clifford W. Bassett, MD, allergy ambassador, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; Medical Director, Allergy and Asthma Care of NY; Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine.

Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Butterbur."

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Allergic Rhinitis."

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: "Kefir."

Winchester Hospital: "Probiotics for Hay Fever and Asthma in Children."

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.