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 that studies show don't work, which you should avoid.

Common Herbal Remedies

A number of herbal remedies 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. The problem is that these recommendations are not based on scientific study, and there is no proof they work.

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, allergist, or pharmacist.

See Treatments Proven Not to Work for Nasal Allergies for more information about alternative treatments.