The People's Perspective on Medicine

Can You Overcome Allergies with Xlear?

Xlear nasal spray can help clear pollen from nasal passage to ease allergy symptoms. Saline solution may also be useful against allergies.

Every year as allergy season arrives, people who suffer from allergies look for solutions. Antihistamines such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), levocetirizine (Xyzal) or loratadine (Claritin) are one option. A person who uses a medicine like cetirizine for a long period of time may experience itching if he or she stops taking the drug suddenly, however. Decongestant nasal sprays can lead to rebound congestion. Some readers have found less well-known approaches can help their allergies, however. One individual is enthusiastic about Xlear Nasal Spray.

Does Xlear Help Allergies?

Q. Texas cedar fever has been horrible this year. When I had my teeth cleaned, I was suffering from a cough. The hygienist suggested Xlear Nasal Spray morning and night. She said clearing the pollen from the nasal passages would help the cough.

It felt great to clear my sinuses. She was right–no more cough! This nasal spray is not habit-forming. It contains xylitol, saline and grapefruit extract.

A. The small amount of research we found on xylitol nasal spray (Xlear) indicates that it is helpful for nasal congestion (Cingi et al, International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology, June 2014). Doctors report that irrigating the sinuses with xylitol solution reduced the inflammation of chronic sinusitis (Lin et al, American Journal of Otolaryngology, Jul-Aug. 2017).

Neti Pot for Allergies:

Not everyone uses Xlear nasal spray. Some people also find a plain saline nasal spray or neti pot is helpful in cleaning pollen from the nasal passages. We have heard from several readers that they’ve had success with this approach.

Q. My friend, my daughter-in-law and I have been able to stop all our prescription nasal sprays and inhalers for sinus problems and allergies since using a neti pot daily! I get bronchitis easily, but I have been cough-free for two months since I began rinsing my sinuses nightly with a mixture of one cup of warm water and 1/4 teaspoon of plain salt.

A. The neti pot looks a bit like an Aladdin’s lamp. It is a traditional technology for nasal irrigation to cleanse the nasal passages and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine has used neti pots for regular nasal cleansing for hundreds of years.

In using a neti pot, the head is tipped forward and slightly to the side so that water can be poured into one nostril and allowed to run out the other. Nasal irrigation may also be accomplished with spray equipment from the drugstore. A small study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal (April 2008) suggests that many people with chronic sinus symptoms get benefit from daily nasal irrigation.

Sara S. shared her success:

“I used a nasal aspirator at first, but the force of the wash when you squeeze the bulb can be painful. I bought a neti pot about 5 years ago and the design ensures a gentle flow through the sinuses instead of the sensation one can get jumping into water without holding your nose. Ouch!

“I have learned to roll my head round somewhat for each side to get more sinus area. Friends and family I admit were all grossed out when I described the process, but those who have tried it, including a dear friend and fellow choir member who suffers from terrible allergies, agree that it does work very well, and is effective at warding off, as well as treating, misery when used routinely.

“I use neti salt, now, but began with table salt. Neti salt is finer and dissolves better.”

Sally agreed:

“I have been using a neti pot for over a year and I haven’t had any sinus infections or colds. I had been having at least 2 good sinus infections a year. Hurrah for the neti pot.”

Jay also recommends the neti pot:

“I highly recommend neti pots for anyone who suffers from sinus problems. With a history of sinus infections, I use my neti pot most often when recovering from a cold to prevent the onset of infection.

“I also have seasonal allergies (spring and fall) and find that sinus cleansing can make a huge difference in my reaction after doing yard work if used in the first few minutes after being outside.

“Though they may seem odd, they work! It may take you a few tries to get used to the process, but it’s well worth the effort!”

DP recalls: 

“35 years ago when my 4 sons were all under 6, I had sinus infections one after another. My old pharmacist took pity on me and sold me a “nasal douche”. It looked like a little glass, floating duck. He gave instructions on how to use it with saline.

“I did this faithfully for years, anytime I had a sinus headache, or could tell my sinuses were blocked. I stopped having the usual ensuing infections. I rarely irrigate them now (once a year?) and haven’t had a sinus headache in years.

“How wonderful when knowledgeable people pass on wisdom to others so we don’t have to suffer along at the hands of uneducated “modern”, narrow field medicine men. Pharmacists are the best!”

Some people wash out their sinuses with other equipment rather than a neti pot. 

Eleanor K said:

“I was first introduced to sinus rinse at Duke ENT where I was being treated for my many sinus infections which occurred about four times a year and were treated with antibiotics. They gave me a tube and saline from the drug store to rinse regularly. They also added an antibiotic from time to time to the saline solution when the infection flared. Since using it, I have no more infections and few colds.”

Victoria uses a popular OTC product to good effect:

“Thank goodness for the lady in Walgreens who pointed out the NeilMed Sinus Rinse product so I no longer need an antihistamine nasal spray. The most amazing result is – I’ve stopped snoring and is my husband happy! Only wish my family physician and the ENT doc would have recommended this product! Great results quickly and easily!”

Pollen can also cling to clothes and hair as well as pets. During hay fever season, a nightly shower and shampoo before bed may be helpful. If allergies are troublesome, you could do worse than to try Xlear nose spray.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I live in Florida where allergies are rampant all year. I started using a metered spray that blocks mast cells in your nose from causing symptoms. NasalCrom doesn’t contain steroids which most nasal sprays do.

I believe Xlear may work as an antibiotic of sorts. Sugar alcohols in the gut tend to destroy your gut microbiome so it may have a similar action in sinus cavity. Probably should not be used continuously, allowing normal nose bacteria to repopulate.

Non-sugar sweeteners, including xylitol, do have effects on mouse gut bacteria:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30721958

I like the xclear nasal spray. It has helped clear up my sinus congestion. I have a deviated septum in my right nares and am breathing better with xclear. Do you know if other treatments for deviated septum besides surgery?

Elaine, have you obtained a second opinion, preferably from a medical doctor? I, too, experience allergy problems year-round. I have taken Claritin for years. It remains effective and has caused no problems. My GP sees no concerns with very long-term use of this drug. You might want to ask your chiropractor what specifically she is apprehensive about to lead her to say long-term Claritin use is not safe for you.

Several years ago I bought a Neti pot. When I tried to use it the water went in one nostril but just stayed there, and didn’t come out the other nostril. I think that’s what happens when your nose is stuffed up due to allergies. I tried many times but eventually gave up on the Neti pot.

While I, too, think the NeilMed sinus rinse is fantastic, I think it’s VERY important for people to understand that you shouldn’t use tap water for sinus rinses–it has to be distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. Tap water is not adequately filtered or treated and can lead to potentially serious infections.

Be careful with Neti pots. If you use, use with sterilized water only! I will never go near another Neti pot in my life, however! I had a virus in my sinuses and nasal passages and the Neti pot drove the virus right into my tear ducts, and I ended up with the virus in my eye. Had to go to an eye specialist. Almost lost the sight in my left eye. BE CAREFUL WITH NETI POT, PLEASE!

I take Zyrtec, switching to Claritin, nearly year round. My pollen allergies are terrible, and I live in Florida. My chiropractor, well-studied in medicines, said these are not safe for me. She suggested 6 to 8 visits to an accupuncturist to stop allergies. Have you heard this? Thank you.

Aller Ease by Blue Poppy is a good herbal formula for seasonal allergies. These herbs correct the imbalances in body to correct the root causes of allergies, while healing the symptoms or branches.
Correction of Causes, not Suppression of Symptoms; and all without any side effects.
This is a Chinese herbal formula.

My allergist introduced me to the NeilMed sinus rinse bottle. It works well and is so much easier than using a Neti pot. You can stand up straight while using it and don’t need to contort yourself. It also provides a gentle sinus rinse. Using distilled water and the saline packets that come with it at night after a shower before bed really helps keep allergies under control. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet has really helped me, too!! Even during ragweed season!

Many sites recommend for one to use purified or boiled water with the Neti pot for safe use. I did not see this mentioned.

Neti pots are great but you have to make sure they are cleaned properly or you can wind up with a fungal infection in your nose as a friend of mine experienced, and that was no fun to get healed.

Never use untreated tap water for sinus irrigation!
Boil tap water for 5 minutes then cool before using. Or use distilled water.

Oh great! Another unpronounceable allergy drug. I recently learned that Xyzal is pronounced “ZI-zal” and not “eks-wye-zee-zal.” Is Xclear pronounced “EKS-kleer”?

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