Allergies affect millions of people around the world and about fifty million in the United States. Allergies are somewhat mysterious and not always easy to diagnose despite being very common. For many sniffers and sneezers, allergies are annoying life-long companions, but rarely prevent them from enjoying life or functioning on a daily basis. However, there are many people who are seriously affected by a variety of allergies, some, to such an extent that they interfere with their day-to-day activities. Some allergies may even pose a serious danger requiring medical attention to prevent life-threatening allergic reactions.
Most allergens are generally harmless but your immune system, misguidedly, perceives substances as an attack on the body. In people with allergies, the immune response is exaggerated resulting in hypersensitivity and the release of chemicals (e.g. histamines) causing the allergic reactions. Homeopathy offers a highly effective, safe and gentle approach to treating allergies aiming for long-term resolution and complete eradication of the underlying causes.
First, let’s look at the common types of allergens. How do we diagnose allergies? What are the symptoms and the conventional approach for their treatment? Seasonal allergies are rarely serious, but those who experience them know how horrible it can feel when the unpleasant symptoms of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and burning sensation in the throat settle in for weeks at a time. Allergens invade the body more readily through the respiratory and alimentary tracts, the open orifices, the skin, and once introduced into the bloodstream can be delivered to distant organs. The most common allergens that people react to include dust mites, mold spores, pollen, grass, certain trees and weeds, animal fur and dander, cockroach calyx, insect venom, fungal allergens, wool, food, drugs, metal, and latex.
There are two main test routines performed in order to determine the exciting causes of allergic reactions: a skin test and a blood test. The skin test consists of applying a small amount of purified liquid of the allergen to be tested onto the patient’s skin and pricking with a fine needle to induce a reaction or alternatively, inoculating a small amount of the allergen subdermally. The blood test involves collection of blood sample to detect the presence of elevated allergen-specific IgE in response to the specific allergen. Blood tests have lower accuracy compared to skin tests and are considered an alternative testing method for those unable to take the skin test. There are also a number of other tests such as smears, imaging diagnostics and endoscopy implemented for the purpose of evaluating allergic conditions.
Allergies of all kinds are on the rise. According to a study on allergies in children published in the National Health Interview Survey Data Brief in May 2013, the following key findings were recorded: the prevalence of skin allergies decreased with age. In contrast, the prevalence of respiratory allergies increased with age. Food allergy prevalence was similar among all age groups. Skin allergy prevalence decreased with the increase of age (14.2% among 0–4 years, 13.1% among 5–9 years, and 10.9% among 10–17 years); while respiratory allergy prevalence increased with the increase of age (10.8% among 0–4 years, 17.4% among 5–9 years, and 20.8% among 10–17 years). The different types of allergies varied based on socioeconomic status. Food and respiratory allergies increased with the increase of income level, but the prevalence of skin allergies seem to have no correlation to the socioeconomic status.
This is interesting statistical information and from a homeopathic perspective one can reason that under the premise of the miasmatic theory and disease suppression, it is apparent why skin allergies would be more prominent in the younger population (under the age of 10) and the opposite trend of increasing respiratory allergies with the increase of age will be seen. Homeopathy has demonstrated the established connection between the integumentary and the respiratory systems and it is a clinical fact that skin suppressions would generally lead to respiratory issues (e.g suppression of eczema leads to asthma). Therefore, younger children, not yet exposed to various therapies, still exhibit the expressions of psora with prevalent skin affections. As they undergo suppressive conventional treatment (e.g. Anti-histamines, antibiotics, etc) they tend to progress into respiratory problems, which is consistent with the aforementioned statistical data. Furthermore, as stated in the study, food and respiratory allergies are linked to the socioeconomic status of the affected families, which again suggests that wealthier families have more resources and access to a greater variety of foods (including non-healthy food, e.g. processed food) and expensive conventional healthcare. That does not necessarily guarantee making healthier choices. The skin allergies seem unaffected by socioeconomic status as these are generally manifestations of the inherent psoric miasm.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Seasonal allergies are associated with the change of seasons, winter to spring, spring to summer and summer to fall when certain plants and trees pollinate. Allergies are not that simple to treat and more often than not the goal of the allopathic physician is to reduce the intensity and severity of the symptoms through suppression, which poses a poor short-term solution to a long-term problem.
The symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the individual and include runny nose, sneezing, itchy, stuffy nose, post nasal drip, sinus congestion, headache, red itchy watery swollen eyes, irritation and tickling at the roof of the mouth, ear infections, oppressed breathing, wheezing, asthma, irritation and inflammation of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. Other symptoms may include chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability and general ill feeling.
The conventional treatment of allergies aims to minimize the effects of the exhibiting symptoms by suppression. Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening by resulting in anaphylaxis. In such cases the immediate administration of epinephrine can be the difference between life and death. It is vital to recognize the signs of those emergency situations and call 911 or seek medical attention at the nearest hospital. The administration of indicated homeopathic medicines while waiting for the emergency response team could be very helpful.
Conventional treatment of seasonal allergies
There are a number of over-the-counter or prescription medications used by the conventional medicine for alleviating the discomfort of allergies such as:
ANTIHISTAMINES: They are used to treat hay fever and symptoms of seasonal allergies. They cause a great number of uncomfortable side effects including, but not limited to drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, trouble urinating and moodiness. Antihistamines are contraindicated in patients with heart disease, hypertension, thyroid problems, liver and kidney disruption, bladder obstruction or glaucoma. It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
CORTICOSTEROIDS are highly prescribed and consumed due to their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. Common side effects of corticosteroid preparations include, but are not limited to restlessness and nervousness, increased appetite, burning, dryness, irritation of the nasal mucous membranes, sneezing and throat irritation. More serious complications include trouble breathing, swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat; nausea, vomiting, bloody or black stools, rapid weight gain, blurred vision, muscle cramps, pain or weakness, hives and other skin conditions and nosebleed.
DECONGESTANTS: These are usually prescribed when antihistamines fail to relieve. Decongestants work by reducing the swelling of the tissues and the blood vessels, which reduces congestion. Contraindications include heart disease, hypertension, glaucoma, thyroid problems, enlarged prostate, and diabetes.
LEUCOTRIENE INHIBITORS FOR ASTHMA work by reducing the inflammation in the air passages. It stops the action of the chemical leucotriene, which is responsible for the swelling up of the nasal passages, tightening the airways and producing copious amounts of mucous, which inhibits breathing. Side effects include, but are not limited to sore throat, earache, nasal congestion, headaches, nausea, and nervousness.
IMMUNOTHERAPY (ALLERGY SHOTS): These are used to treat hay fever and insect bite allergies. They may require years of continuous treatment and cause unpleasant side effects, such as skin rash, hives and in some cases anaphylaxis. Increased risk of negative reaction can be seen in patients with heart or lung disease or those who are on certain medications.
SLIT (SUBLINGUAL IMMUNOTHERAPY TREATMENT) with Grastek, Ragwitek and Oralair are used for treating hay fever and work on the same principles as the allergy shots.
Homeopathic Treatment of Seasonal Allergies
In homeopathy and other holistic modalities the correlation between allergies, skin conditions (such as eczema and urticaria) and lung problems (such as asthma) is well observed. Our holistic approach of treating the individual as a whole dynamic system has demonstrated the dangers of suppressing the body’s natural tendency to externalize and manifest internal maladies through the skin and mucous membranes. Suppressive practices can drive the morbid process back to the interior causing further damage to more vital organs. In a similar fashion this logic applies to the symptoms exhibited by patients with allergies. The latter should be treated in the context of the individual as part of his constitutional terrain since allergies are, as previously noted, an auto-immune response, a state of hypersensitivity brought on to the surface as a result of deeper miasmatic tendencies.
Homeopathic medicine offers a natural, safe, gentle and drug free approach to addressing seasonal allergies through holistic and strictly individualized constitutional treatment by taking into account the miasmatic precursors and the particulars of each individual case.