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    Natural Remedies: Can They Help You Fight Allergies?

    By By Geri K. Metzger, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
    February 28, 2013, 6:33:27 AM EST

    If you have allergies and take prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines or prescription anti-inflammatories, you may wonder if there's an herbal option for allergy symptoms.

    Complementary and alternative remedies are popular ways to treat many medical conditions, including allergies. But there's little scientific evidence to support their safety and effectiveness.

    Many of the natural remedies for allergies can be found right in your grocery store. For example, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries all contain quercetin. This is similar to vitamin C. It's thought by some to work like an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory.

    Be careful, though. Even if the remedy is called "natural," use them with caution. Natural doesn't automatically mean harmless. Some may have negative interactions with certain medications or cause other unwanted effects. And some just don't work.

    What works? Here are a few natural or herbal remedies used for allergies and the latest facts about them:

    Butterbur. A couple of small studies showed that butterbur helped for symptoms of hay fever and had few side effects when taken for a short time. But more and larger scientific studies are needed to see if these claims are true. Avoid butterbur supplements with pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These chemicals can harm the liver and lungs. Don't use butterbur if you are allergic to ragweed.

    Quercetin. This is a substance found in some plants. It is thought to help stabilize the cells that release histamine. So, it acts like an antihistamine. Some say it works to prevent allergic responses if taken regularly. More scientific research is needed, though. Quercetin is present in apples, onions and citrus fruits, and can be bought as a supplement. Check with your doctor if you are thinking about taking a quercetin supplement. It can interact with aspirin and blood thinners.

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