Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
I love this time of year, when trees and flowers are beginning to bloom and when we can say farewell to gray winter days. But as beautiful as spring blossoms are, this time of year can be quite a nuisance for seasonal allergy sufferers. Seasonal allergies affect around 17 million American adults and 7 million children, often bringing on bouts of sneezing, runny nose, coughing, and itchy eyes and throat.
Fortunately, seasonal allergies can often be managed with medication, staying inside on high pollen count days, or having a series of “allergy shots.” Some people also turn to complementary health approaches to manage their allergies. Our research tells us that “respiratory allergy” is among the top conditions for which children in the United States most often use complementary approaches.
The NCCAM Web site has new information on several complementary health practices that have been studied for seasonal allergies, including saline nasal irrigation, the herb butterbur, and other approaches. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I encourage you to talk with your health care provider about the best way to manage your symptoms, especially if you are considering or are using a dietary supplement. We know that some supplements may interact with medications or other supplements or have side effects of their own. Also, keep in mind that most dietary supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children. Take care, and as always, be well!