Seasonal allergies affect a large percentage of the general population every year. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, also called pollinosis, hay fever or nasal allergies, is characterized by several symptoms, predominantly in the nose and eyes. Symptoms occur after airborne allergens like dust, dander or pollen are inhaled. When pollens cause the allergic symptoms, the allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as "hay fever."
Treatment for allergic rhinitis depends on the severity and frequency of the symptoms. Patients may benefit from allergy medications like antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, decongestants, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and nasal corticosteroid sprays. Minimizing exposure to known allergens may also help prevent or reduce allergy symptoms.
Butterbur: Butterbur is a perennial shrub, found throughout Europe as well as parts of Asia and North America. It is usually found in wet, marshy ground, in damp forests, and adjacent to rivers or streams. Comparisons of butterbur to prescription drugs such as fexofenadine (Allegra®) and cetirizine (Zyrtec®) have reported similar efficacy. These results suggest benefits of butterbur for prevention of allergic rhinitis. Additional study is warranted before a strong recommendation can be made.
Galphimia glauca: Thryallis (Galphimia glauca), is a small evergreen shrub found in tropical regions of Mexico and Central America. Traditional medicine practitioners in Latin America use Galphimia glauca for the treatment of asthma and allergies, while Mexican traditional medicine uses Galphimia glauca as a sedative in the treatment of mental disorders. Human studies have shown that Galphimia glauca may reduce eye and nose irritation associated with hay fever and pollen allergy. However, these benefits may be due to the placebo effect.
Bromelain: Bromelain is a sulfur-containing proteolytic digestive enzyme that is extracted from the stem and the fruit of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus, family Bromeliaceae). It is proposed that bromelain may be a useful addition to other therapies used for sinusitis (such as antibiotics) due to its ability to reduce inflammation/swelling. Studies report mixed results, although overall bromelain appears to be beneficial for reducing swelling and improving breathing. Better studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Luffa: Luffa operculata is a plant in the family Cucurbitaceae. In some cultures, young luffa fruits are eaten as vegetables. In the early 1960s, knowledge about Luffa operculata came from the indigenous people of Colombia to the Western homeopathic community. Several homeopathic companies use it in combination with other herbs as a nasal spray treatment for sinusitis and rhinitis. Limited research reports that a combination of herbs and minerals that contained Luffa operculata lessened symptoms of hay fever. However, additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
For more information about integrative therapies with evidence of benefit for seasonal allergies, please visit, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.