May 2013

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Health Capsule

Allergies and Complementary Medicine

When trees, flowers and grasses start to bloom each year, you might find yourself feeling awful if you suffer from seasonal allergies, or “hay fever.” It’s caused by a reaction to the pollens released by many plants in the spring, summer or fall. Symptoms can include runny nose, scratchy throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itchy, red or watery eyes.

Many people manage their seasonal allergy symptoms by taking medications, such as antihistamines or decongestants. But some people try complementary health approaches, such as saline nasal irrigation, butterbur, honey, acupuncture and other practices.

If you’re considering any of these complementary methods for the relief of seasonal allergy symptoms, be sure to learn what the science says. Get details at

This new NIH web page can help you learn about specific complementary practices. Get an overview of the current evidence on effectiveness and safety. And always remember to talk to your health care provider about the best ways to manage your seasonal allergy symptoms.