5 Unusual Ways to Treat Spring Allergies

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Finally, the cold weather has gone away, and the outdoors are green again. With the warmer weather comes the pollen, and most areas of the country are seeing significant tree pollen in the air. The grass pollen is soon to follow. This spells misery for the allergy sufferer. However, with a little preparation, spring allergies don't have to ruin your outdoor activities this year. Whether you're seeing an allergist, a regular doctor, or have no ability or time to see a physician in order to obtain a prescription, there's plenty of options to combat your allergies this season.

There are a number of new over-the-counter options to treat allergies, including antihistamines, eye drops, and intranasal corticosteroid sprays. There are also two new prescription medications (they are not actually medications, but sublingual immunotherapy) available for the treatment of grass allergies. Despite the wide variety of therapies for the treatment of allergies, there are a number of unusual or unproven therapies that people use for the treatment of allergy symptoms. I would suggest that anyone considering using any of the following methods to treat nasal allergy symptoms consult their physician, preferably an allergist, prior to starting a treatment.


Acupuncture is a part of traditional Chinese medicine that can be used for many chronic diseases, especially chronic pain. The process involves inserting needles into the skin at exact points on the body, which is supposed to restore the balance of "vital flows." Acupuncture has also been claimed to influence the various activities of cells in the body, particularly via the transport, breakdown and clearance of “bioactive mediators.” These actions, along with the claimed effect of inhibiting an over-active immune system, are thought to result in anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

These anti-inflammatory effects are thought to decrease inflammatory diseases such as allergic rhinitis.

Ear Acupressure

Ear acupressure is a technique that takes advantage of major energy lines being connected to the ear, according to traditional Chinese medicine. This technique has been used to treat a number of different medical conditions, such as chronic pain, drug abuse, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, as well as allergic rhinitis.

Ear acupressure involves placing metal pellets against different parts of the ear, which are squeezed against the ear by the patient. The skin is not broken, as with true acupuncture, which can cause more pain and higher risk of infection when used on the ear.

Hot Pepper Nasal Spray

Capsaicin is the substance found in hot red and chili peppers, and it's responsible for the burning sensation that occurs when eating these foods. When capsaicin comes into contact with mucous membranes and skin, the body’s pain sensors are stimulated, which leads to the classic symptoms of burning, stinging and a sensation of heat.

Capsaicin has a wide variety of uses, such as a spice, an herbal supplement, a self-defense weapon (pepper spray), as well as a topical pain medication. Capsaicin also has been used as a nasal spray to treat the effects of non-allergic rhinitis.

Local Honey

Locally produced honey, which supposedly contains local plant pollens to which a person would be allergic, is the preferred type of honey for allergies.

It makes sense that consuming honey that contains pollen to which a person is allergic would improve allergies, much like how sublingual immunotherapy works. And, the fact that many people have experienced anaphylaxis from eating honey means that there may be enough pollen to stimulate the immune system. However, should eating local honey be a recommended method of treating pollen allergies?

Herbal Supplements

Various herbal supplements have been used in the treatment of allergies and asthma, some showing benefit. Many medications used to treat various medical problems are derived from plants and herbs, including theophylline (long used to treat asthma). Studies on herbs in allergic rhinitis have been promising, with at least two studies on the use of butterbur in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. One well-designed study showed that butterbur was equivalent to cetirizine (Zyrtec®), while another showed that butterbur was equivalent to fexofenadine (Allegra®). Another well-controlled study on perennial allergic rhinitis showed that biminne was effective for allergic rhinitis symptoms compared to placebo. Finally, a well-designed study showed that a Chinese herb mix was more effective on allergic rhinitis symptoms than placebo.

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