A nasal allergy, or allergic rhinitis, is usually caused by environmental irritants such as pollen or animal dander. The body sees these irritants as dangerous invaders and releases a chemical called histamine as a protective measure. Histamine causes the sneezing, itching and swelling associated with allergies. Over-the-counter allergy medicines can relieve and prevent the symptoms but may cause drowsiness. There are several alternatives for people who don’t like conventional medications.
People with allergies should take care when using herbal remedies, because some can cause an allergic reaction. For example, people with ragweed allergies can have a reaction to chamomile. Other herbs, such as ephedra, are considered controlled substances and may be illegal in some areas. Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties, and, according to Dr. Linda White, author of “The Herbal Drugstore,” is also effective in treating allergies. Dr. White also recommends reishi, a Chinese mushroom that inhibits histamine production. Try 20 to 30 drops of licorice root tincture or up to three 1,000 mg capsules of reishi extract three times a day.
Homeopathic remedies are available in health food stores and some mainstream drugstores. The best way to get a homeopathic remedy is to visit a registered homeopath. There are thousands of homeopathic elements, and a homeopath can make a formula or prescribe an element tailored specifically for you. If a homeopath is not available, look for pre-made formulas from reputable companies, such as Boiron, that are labeled as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Nasal lavage, or irrigation, washes irritants out of the nasal passages to relieve allergy symptoms. You can use a plastic bulb or a neti pot–a miniature teapot designed for nasal irrigation. Nasal lavage uses a mild saline solution, and you can make on your own with one-quarter tsp. salt in warm water, or buy pre-made solution at any mainstream drugstore. In addition to flushing irritants out of the sinuses, nasal lavage moistens the tissues and soothes irritation. Regular nasal lavage can help prevent the recurrence of nasal allergies and other sinus problems. Because nasal lavage is drug-free, you can use it with other allergy remedies.