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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Natural allergy relief

Allergy sufferers are joining the ranks of Americans who have tried some form of alternative or natural treatment for their ailments. More than half of the U.S. adult population has used complementary and alternative medicine, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Natural remedies for allergies may offer new options for individuals who want to avoid the side effects associated with traditional products. Severe allergy sufferers may turn to alternative treatments to supplement what they already are doing in hopes of obtaining more relief. A natural product may be all that someone with mild symptoms needs. Alternative treatments run the gamut from herbal medications, nasal washes and elimination of foods that may aggravate allergies to acupuncture, yoga and massage.

Nasal washes are one of the safest and easiest alternative remedies. Washing the nasal passages with a warm saline solution may clear up some of the symptoms of sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses). A small ceramic pot, called a Neti Pot, or over-the-counter saline sprays may be used to wash the sinuses.

Herbal medications have been reported to help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. They are available without a prescription and can be given to children or adults. Euphorbium, nettle leaf and quercetin are three natural supplements that have been tested in limited clinical studies and may reduce allergy symptoms for some individuals. As with all medications, there is the potential for allergic reaction. Individuals who have never tried the supplements need to start out at a low dose to minimize the chance of allergic reaction.

One study showed euphorbium may help reduce the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, including pressure, nasal congestion and headache. In a research study of stinging nettle leaf, participants had a slight reduction in allergic rhinitis symptoms, such as itching and watery eyes, and runny nose. Four capsules (300 mg) of nettle leaf per day is the recommended dose during allergy season. Allergy sufferers should make sure they purchase freeze-dried nettle leaf, start with one capsule and gradually increase the dosage to four capsules. Quercetin, a flavenoid found in a wide variety of herbs and vegetables, may inhibit the production of histamines, associated with allergies. Some individuals experience side effects, including headache, nausea or tingling in the hands and feet. Natural supplements may be found at drug stores and health food establishments.

Eliminating foods from the diet that tend to aggravate symptoms is another avenue to explore in finding allergy relief. Some studies have shown that certain foods may increase allergic rhinitis in individuals with food intolerances. Those who suspect a particular food may be contributing to their symptoms need to try an elimination diet, which involves removing the food(s) for at least one week. Individuals then reintroduce one food at a time and note any increase in symptoms.

Yoga and massage may be beneficial for health and well-being but little study has been done to show they improve allergy symptoms. Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that involves inserting needles into the skin at specified points on the body. While it has been used for many chronic diseases, little evidence indicates it helps allergy sufferers.

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