Many who want to find a natural approach to relieving the misery of allergy symptoms have turned to herbal remedies. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence showing that they work, and some could even be dangerous. Also, there are several alternative treatments for allergies that studies show don't work, which you should avoid.

Common Herbal Remedies for Allergies

A number of herbal remedies for allergies have been touted as providing relief for nasal allergy symptoms. These include parsley leaves or parsley root, stinging nettle tea with Swedish bitters, tinctures of eyebright, ground ivy, ribwort plantain, and capsules of wild cherry bark or mullein leaf. Eyebright, for instance, is used externally as an eye-bath for inflammation of the eyelids and tissue surrounding the eyeball, called conjunctivitis, which can occur with allergies.The problem is that these recommendations are not based on scientific study, and there is no proof they work to improve allergy symptoms.

Ephedra. One herb from the ephedra sinica plant is the basis for the drug ephedrine, which is widely used in China (under the name ma huang) for nasal congestion. Unfortunately, the herbal form of this drug isn't regulated, and doses may be dangerously high. It can increase your blood pressure and heart rate and may cause insomnia and anxiety. People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or enlarged prostate, or who are taking high blood pressure or antidepressant medications, should not take this herb.

Ephedra. One herb from the ephedra sinica plant is the basis for the drug ephedrine, which is widely used in China (under the name ma huang) for nasal congestion. Unfortunately, the herbal form of this drug isn't regulated, and doses may be dangerously high. It can increase your blood pressure and heart rate and may cause insomnia and anxiety. People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, or enlarged prostate, or who are taking high blood pressure or antidepressant medications, should not take this herb.

Medicines, whether they're herbal or made in a laboratory, can all have side effects. Plus, there's no testing or federal regulation of herbal remedies. You should get your medical advice from your primary care doctor, allergy specialist, or pharmacist.

Treatments Proven Not to Work for Allergies

Sometimes symptoms of nasal allergy can make you so miserable that you're willing to try just about anything to get relief from your allergies. There are plenty of less-than-scientific and even dangerous treatments for nasal allergies. Allergy experts recommend staying away from the following alternative treatments.

  • Autologous urine injections. Do you think injecting yourself with an extract of your own urine might cure your allergies? Some people claim it's true, but there's no evidence it works. Many health authorities fear that, when injected into your body, substances in urine could be dangerous to your health.
  • Diet and vitamin therapy. So far, there isn't any diet or vitamin regimen that has proven successful in relieving or eliminating allergies. Radical changes in your diet or mega-doses of vitamins, amino acids, or other food supplements may be harmful.
  • Neutralization therapy. Proponents of this treatment say that taking a small amount of an allergen by injection or a drop under the tongue can ward off allergy symptoms. The idea is to take the allergen when you first feel allergy symptoms or right before exposure. While it sounds a little like immunotherapy, there's no proof that it works to relieve or prevent allergy symptoms.
  • Homeopathy. This treatment is popular in many parts of the country. Homeopathy involves taking in tiny amounts of extremely diluted food or plant extracts to prevent allergy symptoms. However, there aren't studies to prove its effectiveness in relieving or preventing allergy symptoms.