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 acupuncture, probiotics, or the herb butterbur might be helpful. However, the scientific evidence on these practices is limited, conflicting, or demonstrates safety concerns of the therapies. More studies are needed before researchers can say whether these approaches are 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, probiotics, and acupuncture.
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; however there are some safety concerns associated with its use.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that honey relieves seasonal allergies.
Mind and Body Practice
There are data from some randomized controlled trials that suggests that acupuncture may improve some symptoms of allergic rhinitis, as well as quality of life.
There is some limited evidence that suggests probiotics may improve some symptoms, as well as quality of life, in patients with allergic rhinitis, but overall the data on probiotics and allergic rhinitis is inconsistent and effects may vary from one probiotic formulation to another.