There is reasonably good evidence that nasal irrigation with saline can be useful for relief of seasonal allergy symptoms. Other complementary practices frequently used for symptom relief, such as the herb butterbur might be helpful, but the scientific evidence is limited, conflicting, or demonstrates safety concerns of the therapies. More studies are needed before researchers can say whether these approaches are (or are not) effective and safe for treating seasonal allergy symptoms.
This issue of the Digest provides information on what the science says about several complementary health approaches for seasonal allergies, such as saline nasal irrigation, butterbur, honey, acupuncture, and other practices.
Modality and Summary of Current Evidence
There is some evidence to suggest that saline nasal irrigation may modestly improve some seasonal allergy symptoms. Although generally safe, it is recommended that distilled or boiled water be used to prevent rare infections, including N. fowleri.
There is some evidence that butterbur extract can decrease the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that honey relieves seasonal allergies.
Mind and Body Practice
The scientific evidence currently available on acupuncture has not shown clear evidence of clinically significant benefit in treating seasonal allergies. The 2015 updated clinical practice guidelines for allergic rhinitis by the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck lists acupuncture as a treatment option, but cite a low level of confidence in the evidence.