woman with the sniffles, colds, NasalCrom to overcome your allergies

You’ve probably never heard of NasalCrom nasal spray for allergies. It doesn’t get the kind of attention that many other allergy treatments receive.

There are commercials for antihistamines like Claritin (loratadine) Xyzal (levocetirizine) or Zyrtec (cetirizine). There are also corticosteroid nasal sprays such as Flonase (fluticasone), Nasacort (triamcinolone) and Nasonex (mometasone). The commercials make it seem as if such products are the ideal solution to solving allergy symptoms.

They may have their place, but we really like NasalCrom because it is neither an antihistamine nor a steroid. To quote the famous Apple computer ad from decades ago: “Think Different.”

Q. I read in a health newsletter a few years ago that OTC NasalCrom would help allergies. My husband suffered with runny nose and nasal congestion for years.

After using NasalCrom, his allergy totally disappeared. I didn’t have to iron many handkerchiefs after that, so I was delighted!

A. NasalCrom is different from all other allergy medications. It contains cromolyn, which stabilizes the mast cells in the nose responsible for many, if not most, allergy symptoms.

Mast Cells Cause a LOT of Mischief:

Mast cells are found in your eyes, nose and lungs (and other places in your body) that are highly sensitive to allergens.

Think of mast cells as floating mines. When they come into contact with allergens like ragweed pollen or dust mite poop, a switch gets thrown on these cellular “mines” and all hell breaks loose.

Mast cells start releasing histamine and other chemicals called kinins (pronounced KYE-nins), which then turn on a cascade of other nasty things like leukotrienes and prostaglandins. The end result is sneezing, itching, inflammation, and congestion.

Stabilizing Mast Cells:

If you can stabilize mast cells and make them less sensitive to allergens they appear to be less likely to trigger the release of all those nasty chemicals described above. That way you can prevent symptoms at the source of the problem.

We think such an approach may be more logical than trying to block the effect of histamine with antihistamines. And we think it is safer that squirting steroids in your nose on a regular basis. Some of the corticosteroid is absorbed into your body.

Shutting the Barn Door BEFORE the Horses get Out:

Think of it this way. If your mast cells are like a barn holding in a bunch of wild horses (histamine molecules), then what would be more efficient–reinforcing the door and walls of the barn to keep those wild histamines inside or trying to protect all the grass in your pasture from having those histamine “horses” nibbling away at it? Antihistamines are like a chemical barrier that trys to protect your grass once the horses are out of the barn. But they are not 100 percent efficient, and some histamine will always find a target and wreak havoc. Keeping the barn closed tightly (or the mast cells stabilized) seems to us to be a more effective approach.

Nasalcrom to the Rescue:

Cromolyn (NasalCrom) was first introduced as a prescription product in 1983. NasalCrom went over the counter in 1997. Cromolyn, the active ingredient in NasalCrom, was originally derived from an herb, the fruit of bishop’s weed (Ammi visnaga), which was traditionally used to treat asthma.

The compound cromolyn stabilizes highly sensitive mast cells in the lining of the nose and lungs so they can better resist the onslaught of pollen. It won’t cause drowsiness or cognitive impairment and, if used regularly, it is quite effective. It can be taken for up to twelve weeks. Unlike decongestant nose sprays, there is no need to fear developing dependency.

Side Effects:

Cromolyn is very safe and does not cause drowsiness or rebound nasal congestion the way OTC nasal decongestants can. Some people may experience temporary sneezing, nasal burning, or a bad taste in their mouth.


You must use NasalCrom at least four times a day to really benefit. Some experts believe it is less effective than intranasal corticosteroids. We suggest that it is safer and worth a try if you are the kind of person who can spritz your nostrils three to four times daily on a regular basis.

Share your own experience with cromolyn below in the comment section.

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  1. Donna

    NasalCrom actually works BETTER for me than the allergy pills that cause side effects. I’ve been telling everyone about it for several years. It gets a lot of word-of-mouth recommendations, and I think that’s why we don’t see a huge advertising budget for it. There is nothing to lose as it doesn’t have any dangerous side effects. Just be sure to give it a full week before making a final decision, as it takes several days to “kick in” but then it is WONDERFUL. Rather than addressing symptoms you already have, it prevents you from having the symptoms in the first place. So it feels like I am now back to being a person who just doesn’t have allergies!

    • Jennifer

      I agree; NasalCrom is much more effective and fast-acting than many of the oral medications I’ve tried. I live in Kentucky and have severe grass and tree allergies that turn me into a sneezy, weepy, red-eyed disaster each spring; however, NasalCrom has done wonders for me. I’ve used it for more than 10 years and have had no issues with it at all. I only use it when pollen levels are forecast to be high or when I’m going to be exposed to specific allergens- I can usually spray a few minutes before mowing the lawn and have absolutely no issues; my husband, who is allergic to cats only uses NasalCrom when he is going to be in close proximity of them, and after he sprays each nostril, he is symptom-free (as long as he doesn’t rub his eyes after petting a cat) for a good 2-3 hours. It has been a game changer for us!

  2. Karamah
    Apopka, Fl

    Your article is so refreshing because NasalCrom is one of the medical profession’s best kept secret, here’s my story
    In 2000 I had my worst ever persistent headache, I was sure I head a tumor, so after a co-worker died from a brain tumor I was convinced that I had one also. I went to see Rob, my then PCP and said, “Rob, I have a brain tumor!!!” I described my headache, which more severe in the back of my head, and mild in the sinus areas. Rob examined my nose, my ears listened to my chest and gave me a prescription for NasalCrom, it wasn’t sold over-the-counter back then. What I like about this doctor had always been his right on conservative treatment of disease processes. But my immediate response was, “ Rob, the pain is in the back of my head!” He responded, “ your ears are very congested”. I was already familiar with Cromolyn Sodium because a pediatric allergist, co-worker, had prescribed the inhaler when I was diagnosed with asthma in the mid 1970s. With a big question mark on my face I took the prescription, filled it, and use it and “voila”, brain tumor gone, no more headache, no more severe itchy eyes( I had deep black circles and rough looking eyelids from constant rubbing and scratching) no more rough black skin. I have used religiously since and recommend to everyone I meet who is experiencing the discomforts of allergy symptoms. I just tell them I would be just as uncomfortable without NasalCrom, show them the bottle, it is always in my purse, discuss the price and tell them it’s worth it. Those that use it love it just as much as I do. Thank you for the opportunity to share this.
    With gratitude,

  3. Barb

    Should have been using this product. Instead, my doctor told me to use Flonase or Nasacort. Bad advice because I developed cataracts soon after and now am developing glaucoma. This side effect is in fine print. Optometrist said steroid nasal sprays should only be used for a very short time.


    Nasalcrom has been a lifesaver for me. Thank you for the article. I trust your opinions. I decided to give it a try and my allergies are under control for the first time in YEARS!!!

  5. Ray

    excellent in controlling my allergy and cold symptons

  6. Jody

    I used NasalCrom for several years at the first sign of my “spring allergies” kicking up. Eventually I got to the point where I was no longer allergic! I believe that preventing allergic reactions helped my body stop producing the IgE that made me prone to those reactions. It’s been over 15 years now and I have not starting reacting again.

    However, I have developed an allergy to flea bites. I may go back on it and see what happens . . .

  7. Kathy

    I have used Nasalcrom for over 15 years, and most of my allergy symptoms were gone, and I have suffered my whole life with a constant stuffy nose. When I couldn’t find it this past spring and summer anywhere I felt desperate and tried some of those other nasal sprays which didn’t work. On a fluke I searched online, and, “Praise God,” found it there. I now have it auto-delivered about every 5-6 weeks. The first few months I had to use at least 4 times a day but after awhile only morning and night. I really don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t ever find it aagain!

  8. Jan T

    Please let me know if anyone knows of a source for Intal spincap Inhalers (which are cromolyn based). It is inhaled through a Spinhaler.

    Alternatively, if anyone knows of any kind of cromolyn sodium that would be useful for people with asthma, please forward information to me. Intal was a great product and should NEVER have been removed from the market! I need to get off steroid inhalers. Please help!

  9. Grace

    I have used most all the nasal sprays over the years, and because of these I have no sense of smell. I would like to try Nasalcrom but cannot find it anywhere. Tried all the pharmacies and health food stores. Can someone please help me find it??

    • Paul

      Here in eastern Washington I have bought Nasalcrom at Rite Aid.

      Paul, WA

    • Gina

      Grace, the official NasalCrom website has a “where to buy” page. That’s how I found it in a local store. Make sure you search for the .44oz AND .88oz — these are often found at different stores.

    • Randall

      Grace, I love Nasalcrom; it works far better for me that any of the alternatives. Sadly, I never see it in stores, so I just buy it from Amazon. The manufacturer doesn’t seem to advertise this product, but I’m glad it’s still made. Hope they keep making it. Good luck!

    • Dana

      I bought mine from Amazon.

    • Kathy

      Amazing product!

    • Tina

      I just bought some at Rite-Aid.

  10. Bob

    My allergies had always been horrible until I started using Nasalcrom in the early 1980s. Since then, I have had little-to-no problems and NO side effects. The only problem is that recently Walgreens has stopped carrying it and I’ve had to order it online.

  11. Mo

    I just started Nasalcrom two weeks ago because my nebulizer Cromolyn Sodium was discontinued. I’m unable to take steroids and my doctor said I could order it from Canada and the price is prohibitive so I decided to use Nasalcrom since my doctor is out of ideas. I like it so far and I’ve had no asthma attacks but I still get a bit of an allergy cough. I really think it’s a wonderful product.

  12. Angie
    Springfield, MO

    After reading the comments regarding Nasalcrom, I decided to give it a try. Although congestion is not an issue for me, I suffer from inflammation, itching, watery eyes, and a bitter, sometimes burning sensation on my tongue. Mast cell inhabition was an appealing approach to my battle to control inflammation and allergic responses.

    However, after doing additional research, I learned one of its ingredients, benzalkonium chloride, is extremely toxic; therefore have discontinued its use. As a result, I question the support of the product by People’s Pharmacy. Can anyone shed additional light on this information?

  13. Ro

    I really like using Nasalcrom and have used it since it came out, but every pharmacy/pharmacy department I’ve been to no longer carries it, so I ended up ordering it online.

  14. Dick

    is it advisable to add Chromolyn to a fluticasone nasalspray regimen

  15. Hank
    left coast

    Back when people smoked tobacco indoors, I used cromolyn sodium all the time (lifetime tobacco allergy). Very effective stuff.

  16. Jeianette
    West Seneca, NY 14224

    Where can I purchase NasalCrom?
    Thank you
    Jeanette Z

  17. Richard T
    South Africa

    I live in South Africa and have a problem with sneezes that go on and on. Closest product I can find is called Stop-Allergy eye drops containing sodium cromoglycate. I decided to use it sprayed up my nose in a fine mist and used when the first sneeze starts it stops me sneezing further. Thanks for a useful bit of advice.

  18. Healthnut

    I buy Veriditas essential oils and have found that using peppermint in boiling water helps clear congestion instantly! I also put it on my clothes to where I can smell it when I go out and it also helps.

  19. RWW

    I have been using NasalCrom since the mid 1980s. Before that I had severe allergies that shots could not help. I had allergies year round with many sensitivities.

    After starting NasalCrom…no more shots or antihistamines. I have been virtually allergy-free unless I stop using Nasalcrom. Even then I am much better.

    • Mary

      Really? I am suffering and suffering with allergies! Do you use this with another spray or just this spray? I am using Flonase along with Allegra. I need more help.

  20. Anon

    I had completely forgotten about NasalCrom. I took it in the early ’80s and it worked like a champ! Wow. This was a blast from the past and I’m glad I read it. I incorrectly thought it was an antihistamine. I am passing this article along to a friend whose mother has tried everything.

  21. jan

    I have used cromolyn inhalers (Intal) for years through a spinhaler..and loved it! No steroids! Then, it was no longer offered in the proper dose, with the advent of a myriad of steroid inhalers hitting the market.

    NasalCrom works as promised, too, and it is definitely worth trying FIRST before adding steroids!

    Thanks so much for posting this advisory!!

  22. Jenifer A.
    Southern California

    I read your piece on NasalCrom with keen interest. I am allergic to pet dander and ragweed, among other things. I take cetirizine daily to allow me to be near my son’s dogs (whom I love) and to function outdoors. I read that NasalCrom can have long-term negative effects on nasal mucosa (“Benzalkonium chloride in nasal decongestive sprays has a long-lasting adverse effect on the nasal mucosa of healthy volunteers.”
    Hallén H, et al. Clin Exp Allergy. 1995.) I would appreciate your comments on this study.

  23. Marie

    I used cromolyn for a year in the early 90’s and complained many times to my allergist who had prescribed it that it burned my nose. He insisted that I keep using it, even saying “his family used it and had no problem”. I stopped it on my own but by the time I did, I had lost most of my sense of smell which never recovered. No cromolyn for me!!!

  24. Sandy
    Dallas, TX

    I’ve been using Nasalcrom for years. It’s one of the three or four sprays that I do use. I also use XClear and a homeopathic spray. I recently found Rebound which helps with congestion, but I try not to let it get that far.

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