Allergic Rhinitis

Dr. Gary,

Many of my family are troubled by seasonal allergies, with sneezing, runny nose, cough, and nasal congestion, which seems to be worse in spring and fall. While antihistamines seem to help, I don’t like the side effects associated with them. Can you recommend any natural alternatives? Thanks!


Hi Connie,

Given the fact that your symptoms are exacerbated in spring and fall, chances are good that they’re due to mold sensitivity, though other allergens could be involved. As one who has been troubled by the annoying aspects of allergic rhinitis in the past, I am very sympathetic to the misery you and your family are experiencing, and I would like to offer some simple solutions, ones I hope will provide some benefit.

Besides antihistamines, other conventional options such as steroid and cromolyn sodium nasal sprays, as well as decongestants, can give symptomatic relief. For a more natural approach, though, I would consider freeze-dried nettle, a herb with known antihistaminic effects, 300 mg capsules, one-two every four hours as needed. Children under twelve should not take more than one capsule a day. Also, try quercetin, a flavonoid that inhibits the release of histamine from mast cells, 400 mg/daily, starting a least two weeks before allergy season. Nasal douching with saline to open the sinus cavities can provide symptomatic relief, and I recommend HEPA air filters in the main living areas and bedroom to remove the offending allergens. Try to decrease or eliminate milk and dairy products, which can irritate the immune system and may contribute to the intensity of symptoms. On a personal note, stopping milk resulted in a profound decrease in the frequency and severity of allergic rhinitis after only a few months. One can consider allergy injections, but remember they don’t work for everyone and may take years to become effective.

In conclusion, please remember the concept of biochemical individuality, the main precept being that everyone responds to healing modalities in their own unique way. What is a godsend for some may offer no benefit whatsoever to others, and vice versa. Experiment with some of the ideas I have given and discover what works best for you, conventional or non-conventional. I am confident if you look hard enough, the symptoms of allergic rhinitis can, at the least, be satisfactorily controlled, or hopefully, even eliminated.

The medical/health information is provided for general educational and informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for personal, professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any recommendations based on the information here, please consult with your primary care provider and/or appropriate professionals.

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