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Allergies, Respiratory

Related Terms

Allergic ConjunctivitisAllergic PharyngitisAllergic RhinitisAllergic SinusitisHay FeverPollen AllergySeasonal Allergy

Respiratory allergies are irritation and swelling in the nose. It is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to allergens like pollen, dust mites, or mold. It can cause a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing.

Allergens cannot always be avoided. Symptoms may be managed with medicines, such as antihistamines and steroids. Some people turn to natural therapies to further ease symptoms.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

Butterbur is likely to help ease inflammation.A1-A6

May Be Effective

Therapies that may help manage symptoms are:

  • Astragalus membranaceus is a flowering herb B1
  • Ayurvedic herbal formula is a blend of herbs based on an ancient healing system C1
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a group of fatty acids D1
  • Hops are the flowers of a climbing herb E1, E2
  • Probiotics are healthy microorganisms F1-F3
  • Rosmarinic acid is the active ingredient in rosemary and perilla oil G1
  • Soy sauce (shoyu polysaccharides) is a Japanese fermented seasoning H1, H2
  • Spirulina is a blue-green algae I1, I2
  • Stinging nettle is a flowering herb J1
  • Tinospora cordifolia is a shrub that is native to India K1
  • Traditional Chinese herbal medicine uses herbs to restore balance in the body L1-L3

May Not Be Effective

These therapies may not be effective:

  • Honey M1
  • Tomato extract N1
  • Vitamin E is a nutrient found in many foods that acts as an antioxidant O1, O2

Unlikely to Be Effective

These therapies are unlikely to have benefit:

  • Enzyme potentiated desensitization injects a low dose of compounds into the skin to lower the body’s reaction to allergens S1
  • Flavanoids, such as quercetin are a class of plant pigments T1-T8
  • Helminth therapy is an intentional infection with hookworm or whipworms U1
  • Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are compounds found in grape seed and pine bark extractsP1
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids are a major component of fish oil and also found in egg yolks Q1

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Acupuncture inserts thin needles into points of the body to promote health R1-R6

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.




A1. Schapowal, A. Randomised controlled trial of butterbur and cetirizine for treating seasonal allergic rhinitis. BMJ. 2002;324:144-146.

A2. Lee D, Carstairs I, et al. Butterbur, a herbal remedy, attenuates adenosine monophosphate induced nasal responsiveness in seasonal allergic rhinitis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2003;33:882-886.

A3. Lee DK, Gray RD, et al. A placebo-controlled evaluation of butterbur and fexofenadine on objective and subjective outcomes in perennial allergic rhinitis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2004;34:646-649.

A4. Schapowal A. Butterbur Ze339 for the treatment of intermittent allergic rhinitis: dose-dependent efficacy in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004;130:1381-1386.

A5. Gray RD, Haggart K, et al. Effects of butterbur treatment in intermittent allergic rhinitis: a placebo-controlled evaluation. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004;93:56-60.

A6. Schapowal A, Study Group. Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339. Phytother Res. 2005 Aug 22. [Epub ahead of print]


B1. Matkovic Z, Zivkovic V, et al. Efficacy and safety of Astragalus membranaceus in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):175.

Ayurvedic Herbal Formula

C1. Rao CS, Raju C, et al. Immunotherapeutic modification by an ayurvedic formulation Septilin. Indian J Exp Biol. 1994;32:553-558.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

D1. Turpeinen AM, Ylonen N, et al. Immunological and metabolic effects of cis-9, trans-11-conjugated linoleic acid in subjects with birch pollen allergy. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jan 2. [Epub ahead of print]


E1. Segawa S, Takata Y, et al. Effects of a hop water extract on the compound 48/80-stimulated vascular permeability in ICR mice and histamine release from OVA-sensitized BALB/c mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007;71:1577-1581.

E2. Segawa S, Takata Y, et al. Clinical effects of a hop water extract on Japanese Cedar Pollinosis during the pollen season: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Aug 7. [Epub ahead of print]


F1. Tamura M, Shikina T, et al. Effects of probiotics on allergic rhinitis induced by Japanese cedar pollen: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2006 Dec 29. [Epub ahead of print]

F2. Ishida Y, Nakamura F, et al. Clinical effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus Strain L-92 on perennial allergic rhinitis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Dairy Sci. 2005;88:527-533.

F3. Giovannini M, Agostoni C, et al. A randomized prospective double blind controlled trial on effects of long-term consumption of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei in pre-school children with allergic asthma and/or rhinitis. Pediatr Res. 2007 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Rosmarinic Acid

G1. Takano H, Osakabe N, et al. Extract of Perilla frutescens enriched for rosmarinic acid, a polyphenolic phytochemical, inhibits seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in humans. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004;229:247-54.

Soy Sauce

H1. Kobayashi M, Matsushita H, Shioya I, et al. Quality of life improvement with soy sauce ingredients, Shoyu polysaccharides, in perennial allergic rhinitis: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. Int J Mol Med. 2004;14:885-889.

H2. Kobayashi M, Matsushita H, Tsukiyama R, et al. Shoyu polysaccharides from soy sauce improve quality of life for patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study. Int J Mol Med. 2005;15:463-467.


I1. Yang HN, Lee EH, et al. Spirulina platensis inhibits anaphylactic reaction. Life Sci. 1997;61:1237-1244.

I2. Cingi C, Conk-Dalay M, et al. The effects of spirulina on allergic rhinitis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2008 Mar 15.

Stinging Nettle

J1. Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med. 1990;56:44-47.

Tinospora Cordifolia

K1. Badar VA, Thawani VR, et al. Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;96:445-449.

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine

L1. Hu G, Walls RS, et al. The Chinese herbal formulation biminne in management of perennial allergic rhinitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week clinical trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002;88:478-487.

L2. Xue CC, Thien FC, et al. Treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis by Chinese herbal medicine: a randomized placebo controlled trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003;9(5):80-87.

L3. Brinkhaus B, Hummelsberger J, et al. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Allergy. 2004;59:953-690.


M1. Rajan TV, Tennen H, et al. Effect of ingestion of honey on symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002;88:198-203.

Tomato Extract

N1. Yoshimura M, Enomoto T, et al. An evaluation of the clinical efficacy of tomato extract for perennial allergic rhinitis. Allergol Int. 2007 Jun 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Vitamin E

O1. Shahar E, Hassoun G, et al. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on the regular treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004;92:654-658.

O2. Montano Velazquez BB, et al. Vitamin E effects on nasal symptoms and serum specific IgE levels in patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;96:45-50.

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins

P1. Bernstein CK, Deng C, et al. Double blind placebo controlled (DBPC) study of grapeseed extract in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) [abstract]. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001;107:1018.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Oils

Q1. Anandan C, Nurmatov U, et al. Omega 3 and 6 oils for primary prevention of allergic disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. Allergy. 2009;64:840-8.


R1. Brinkhaus B, Hummelsberger J, et al. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Allergy. 2004;59:953-690.

R2. Magnusson AL, Svensson RE, Leirvik C, et al. The effect of acupuncture on allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Am J Chin Med. 2004;32:105-15.

R3. Ng DK, Chow PY, Ming SP, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis. Pediatrics. 2004;114:1242-1247.

R4. Acupuncture for persistent allergic rhinitis: a randomised, sham-controlled trial. SourceMedical Journal of Australia. 2007;187:337-341.

R5. Roberts J, Huissoon A, Dretzke J, et al. A systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Apr 22.

R6. Xue CC, Zhang AL, Zhang CS, et al. Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2015;115(4):317-324.

Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation

S1. Radcliffe MJ, Lewith GT, et al. Enzyme potentiated desensitisation in treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis: double blind randomised controlled study. BMJ. 2003;327:251-254.


T1. Amellal M, Bronner C, et al. Inhibition of mast cell histamine release by flavonoids and biflavonoids. Planta Med. 1985;51:16-20.

T2. Gabor M. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties of flavonoids. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1986;213:471-480.

T3. Middleton E Jr. Effect of flavonoids on basophil histamine release and other secretory systems. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1986;213:493-506.

T4. Ogasawara H, Middleton E Jr. Effect of selected flavonoids on histamine release (HR) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) generation by human leukocytes [abstract]. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1985;75(suppl 1, pt 2):184.

T5. Middleton E Jr, Drzewiecki G. Flavonoid inhibition of human basophil histamine release stimulated by various agents. Biochem Pharmacol. 1984;33:3333-3338.

T6. Middleton E Jr, Drzewiecki G, et al. Quercetin: an inhibitor of antigen-induced human basophil histamine release. J Immunol. 1981;127:546-550.

T7. Yoshimoto T, Furukawa M, et al. Flavonoids: potent inhibitors of arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1983;116:612-618.

T8. Middleton E Jr. Effect of flavonoids on basophil histamine release and other secretory systems. Prog Clin Biol Res. 1986;213:493-506.

Helminth Therapy

U1. Croft AM, Bager P, et al. Helminth therapy (worms) for allergic rhinitis . Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;4:CD009238.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Richard Glickman-Simon, MD