6 Drug-Free Allergy Remedies

From Experience Life

Going Beyond a Box of Pills

Allergy sufferers drive a lot of revenue for pharmaceutical companies. The antihistamine category alone includes some 40 different brands and rakes in $5 billion in U.S. sales each year. People with allergies can also partake of intranasal corticosteroids, leukotrine inhibitors, intranasal decongestants, oral decongestants, intranasal anticholergics and mast-cell stabilizers. Although some of these medications might do a good job of controlling symptoms, they often provoke moderate to serious side effects. And they don’t actually attend to the root causes of allergies. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives worth exploring:

Alternative # 1: Immunotherapy
When you’re sick of treating symptoms, go for the cure.

How it works:
Put drops of allergen extracts under your tongue three times a day, for three to five years. You may experience initial results within months, and, over time, your body becomes tolerant of the allergen. The treatment is also available as a doctor-administered injection.

Good for:
Allergic rhinitis and asthma. Some doctors are using the under-the-tongue method to treat food allergies, as well.

Does it work?
Numerous studies have shown injection-based immunotherapy — around for more than 100 years — to be an effective treatment for allergies. Physicians began using the drops method about 30 years ago. Various studies have confirmed its effectiveness, but not to the same indisputable degree as injection-based immunotherapy. A couple of important notes: Many people never finish immunotherapy because the treatment takes so many years to complete. Insurance usually covers office visits and testing; the drops, while not expensive, are generally not covered by insurance.

Alternative #2: Environmental Adjustments
When you’re sneezing and wheezing, give your house a good cleaning.

How it works:
Make adjustments to your home environment that attend to your particular sensitivities. For instance, if you’re allergic to dust mites, replace the carpet in your home with hard-surface flooring. If you’re sensitive to mold, get rid of likely lurking spots like musty shower curtains. If you’re sensitive to pollen, plant only female trees in your yard, and grow cacti in your house.

Good for:
People who know which allergens are giving them trouble and are aware of likely sources.

Does it work?
Depends on what you’re allergic to, but most allergy experts have seen positive outcomes from patients who have made simple changes to their environments. If you’re lucky, the changes will be minor. But it’s possible that you’ll need to take significant steps and make significant investments, potentially including replacing your bedding, getting a new vacuum-cleaning system, saying goodbye to a pet, remodeling, or perhaps (in the event your house has a moldy basement or other intractable problems) even changing homes.

Alternative #3: Food Sleuthing
When your body is sputtering, take a look in the gas tank.

How it works:
For two weeks, eat a completely allergen-free “elimination” diet, one without any eggs, milk, gluten, corn, soy, tree nuts, peanuts (legumes), shellfish or fish. Then, after the two-week period has elapsed, eat one (but only one) of the allergen-prone foods in as pure a form as you can manage: a tall glass of milk, a packet of peanuts, a pile of crab legs or a plate of pasta. Observe and record your physiological reaction for 48 hours. Then, after two days, try another allergen-prone food. Work your way through the list, and by the end of five weeks, you’ll know if there’s a food that is locking horns with your immune system.

Good for:
People who suspect that a food sensitivity might be at the root of things.

Does it work?
Most integrative docs agree that food-elimination diets are the gold standard when it comes to detecting a food allergy (even more so than the most sophisticated blood or skin-prick tests). But because common allergens are so widely used in so many food products, it can be somewhat challenging to complete an elimination diet without some professional consultation and oversight.

Alternative #4: Immuno-Boosters
When your immune system is hurting, give it some TLC.

How it works:

Take quercetin, vitamins E and C, and probiotic supplements (available at your favorite health-food store or co-op).

See: The Immune-Boosting Diet

Good for:
People who don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as they should.

Alternative #5: Traditional Chinese Herbs
When Western medicine wears you out, look East.

How it works:
Alternative medicine companies and practitioners dispense traditional Chinese herbs to allergy sufferers. These include GanCao, KuShen and LingZhi.

Good for:
People who suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay-fever-like symptoms.

Does it work?
Three teams of researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine are actually trying to figure that out. And preliminary research is encouraging. Patients who took a three-herb blend called ASHMI saw a significant drop in IgE levels — as much as 95 percent in some cases. Those who tried a nine-herb blend dubbed FAHF-2 experienced a significant drop in interleukin-5 levels. For best results, work with a qualified Chinese medicine professional or another health pro well versed in Chinese herb treatments.

Alternative #6: Neti Pot
When your schnoz is clogged up, flush it out.

How it works:
Fill this little teapot-shaped device (available at most natural markets and health-food stores) with a solution made of lukewarm water and salt. Pour the saline mixture up one nostril and let it flow in such a way that it comes out the other nostril.

Good for:
People who feel discomfort or fullness in their sinus passages and who can handle the counterintuitive challenge of pouring water up their stuffy nose.

Does it work?
The Mayo Clinic and other major medical institutions roundly endorse the simple neti pot for its ease and efficacy. The mechanism is basic: When you flush your sinuses, you reduce the presence of allergens, such as pet dander, dust mites and pollen. One 2009 study of children with allergies found that nasal irrigation with saline decreased the need for steroidal sprays.

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jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago


Samantha Hodder
Sam Hodder4 years ago


Gina A.
Gina A.4 years ago

Good information.

Delanee Ramdon
.4 years ago

Thank God for this

caterina caligiuri

As an allergy sufferer...thank you very much for the article

Danielle Herie
Danielle Herie4 years ago


Rita S
Rita S4 years ago

As an allergy sufferer, I wish I could find a cure.
I have suffered with allergy for over 30 years.
I didn't know about alternative #1, and it doesn't
sound like something I would like to do. What
are the side affects, if any?

Tiffany Derichsweiler
Tiffany D.4 years ago

My brother was doing the injections. But they were SO expensive and he would cry every time we had to go (we went every week and he was only 3 years old) and he wasnt improving.

Jill Offering
Jill Offering4 years ago

I have severe grass allergies and have opted for the injections. This is my 3rd year and I'm hoping it works this time. I've tried everything and have an excellent diet. The fact that I was raised in Canada and now live on a rural property with huge #s of grasses to which I had never been exposed prior to adulthood has intensified my allergic reaction.
I make a point of having my girls play in dirt and we have pets. Our lives are far from sterile and I hope my girls' immune system benefits from exposure.

carlee trent
carlee trent4 years ago

noted thx