Common Allergy Myths Debunked

There are some alternative medicines that are highly effective, but you want to make sure that there are reliable studies that show this.  There have been several claims of the healing power of natural allergy remedies.  While they all may sound promising, find out if there is any real evidence to prove their effectiveness.

Can essential oils eliminate allergies?

The use of essential oils—oftentimes referred to as aromatherapy--is on the rise.  Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants that are typically inhaled through the use of a diffuser or by being heated, or in some instances used topically.  There are a wide variety of essential oils that claim to cure everything from anxiety to cancer.  There are four main essential oils that are claimed to be beneficial in the treatment of allergies: lavender, lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus.  Lavender and lemon are stated to be powerful natural antihistamines, and peppermint and eucalyptus are said to relieve nasal congestion and help in restoring respiratory health.  Lavender is also believed to have antibacterial properties.

The problem is, there have not been any clinical studies on humans that reproduce these results.  While there have been some positive studies that support the use of essential oils in decreasing anxiety or nausea in cancer patients, there have not been any to support the claims on allergy treatment.  Some essential oils have been able to show antibacterial properties in a test tube setting, but results could not be replicated with human trials.  This is the test that most manufacturers of essential oils base their claims on.

The real concern with the use of essential oils to treat allergies is that it could even be harmful in some cases.  Some companies go as far as claiming that it is a cure for asthma and can be used instead of inhalers or other prescription drugs.  Asthma attacks can be caused by strong odors, and there have been some instances that aromatherapy has triggered severe asthma attacks. Before considering any alternative therapy, please discuss it with your physician first.

Will local honey relieve your allergy symptoms?

Local honey that has not been processed has been claimed to cure allergies similar to receiving an allergy shot (immunotherapy).  It sounds good in theory, but there is no evidence to back up this claim.  Raw honey is believed to have trace amounts of the allergen, pollen.  The theory is that when consumed, the honey will gradually desensitize the consumer to the allergen, eliminating allergies. 

The problem is that most of the pollen found  in honey comes from flowers, while most allergens come from the pollen found in grasses, weeds, and trees.  Not only does raw honey not contain enough of the proper pollen to be beneficial, it also contains many harmful contaminants since it is unprocessed.  A study published by  American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology   in 2002 showed absolutely no difference in allergy sufferers who consumed local honey when compared with those who took a placebo.

In conclusion, the only "natural" remedy for allergies that has been proven effective through years of research and evidence-based practice is immunotherapy or allergy injections.  The physician is able to perform a skin test to find out precisely what you are allergic to and inject you with a known amount of each allergen.  The dose of each allergen will be systematically increased to desensitize the patient over time. 

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