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.
Having a homeopathic home remedy kit is invaluable in addressing the acute stages of hay fever as long as you feel comfortable with self-prescribing. An appointment with a homeopathic professional will ensure a thorough individualized assessment of your case and constitutional prescription to help not only reduce, but permanently eradicate your complaints.
The following table provides keynotes for the leading homeopathic remedies for seasonal allergies:
|Allium cepa||Hay fever with bland lachrymation and acrid, biting, watery discharge from nose (reverse of Euphrasia); sensation of rawness in nose with discharge excoriating the upper lip and wings of nose; coryza aggravated by heat better in open air; frontal headache extending to nose; swelling of lids and around eyes; scratching, rawness in throat when coughing; tickling in the larynx.|
|Kali bichromicum||Sinusitis with pressure and fullness at the root of nose, thick, stringy and greenish-yellow discharge; sense of fullness at root of nose|
|Euphrasia||Hay fever with acrid lachrymation and bland coryza (reverse to Allium cepa); burning in margins of eyelids; hoarseness, difficult respiration; lachrymation abundant, acrid, smarting; lachrymation during cough, in the wind, during coryza, during headache; conjuctivitis; margins of eyelids red, burning, swollen and itching; coryza with copious discharge; worse in sunlight and wind, better in open air, lying down, in a dark room.|
|Arsenicum album||Acrid, thin, watery discharges; discharges with putrid odor; stopped feeling in nose with much sneezing without relief; hay fever, coryza, asthma; right-sided coryza; corrosive fluent coryza reddening the upper lip (more burning than Allium and Merc) hoarseness and aphonia; laryngeal lining dirty-red or anaemic; bluish-red patches; worse at night, cold, in open air; better indoors, warmth, hot applications|
|Arsenicum iodatum||Hay fever with profuse, thin, acrid discharge; hot, green, acrid discharge from nose alternating with or preceded by thin, watery, excoriating discharge; reddens upper lip; lachrymation in cold air, during coryza; nose obstruction at night; asthma at night 11 pm to 2 am; difficult respiration > open air.|
|Sulphur||Nose stuffed indoors, burning outdoors; violent, fluent coryza and frequent sneezing, in morning and evenings; profuse acrid discharge of thick, yellow, purulent mucous; itching and burning in nostrils; loss of smell and taste; fluent like water trickling from nose; shining red swelling of tip of nose, <cold; wings of nose inflamed and swollen; frequent sneezing; symptoms <warmth, >open air.|
|Galphimia||Clinical trials of Galphimia have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating symptoms of allergies involving profuse lachrymation with swollen eyes and nasal discharge.|
|Dulcamara||Excessive secretion of thick, yellow mucous; Obstruction of nose and coryza, spasmodic cough; < cold wet weather, > warm stove, motion. Hay fever, newly mown grass; asthmatic respiration alternating with eruption, (1) after suppressed eruptions, (2) during wet weather. Sudden change from warm to cold or from dry to moist.|
|Pulsatilla||Profuse, thick, bland, yellow-green offensive discharges; chronic nasal catarrh with obstruction of nose < at night; symptoms < warm room, > open air|
|Histaminum||For allergic conditions with difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, and symptoms of allergic reaction, where no other remedy seem to be quite indicated or where other homeopathic remedies failed to relieve.|
|Sabadilla||Hay fever with runny nose and spasmodic sneezing; copious watery nasal discharge; itching and tingling in the nose and soft palate; redness, burning in eyes with lachrymation; severe frontal pains; >warm room; coryza >inhaling hot air, warm drinks, warm food; coryza, hay fever from odour of flowers, newly mown grass, fruit with increase of catarrhal state of throat and posterior nares; lachrymation when going into open air, looking at bright light, coughing or yawning.|
|Sanguinaria||Hay fever with acrid, offensive discharges; dry mucous membranes, tickling cough and very dry throat; burning in nose and throat as if dry; sensitive to flowers and odours; coryza ceases then diarrhoea; asthma; sneezing from sunshine.|
|Natrum muriaticum||Hay fever; feeling of sand in the eyes; violent, fluent coryza followed by nasal obstruction; difficult breathing; dryness of posterior nares; thin, watery discharge like raw white of eggs; violent sneezing; loss of smell and taste internal soreness of nose; watery discharge from eyes.|
|Nux vomica||Stuffed up < at night and outdoors; Fluent coryza in daytime and in open air; acrid discharge, but stuffed up feeling; violent sneezing; obstruction of nose and itching in nostrils with discharge of mucous; coryza < warm room, > open air; hay fever, paroxysms of sneezing, preceeded by excessive irritation of nose, conjuctive and face; accumulation of tenacious mucous in throat, difficult to detach.|
|Kali iodatum||Violent bouts of sneezing, worse on rising; profuse, watery, corrosive nasal discharge; swollen, burning eyes with profuse watery discharge. Symptoms < at night, < heat; > open air, cold air; > moving around.|
|Arum triphyllum||Hay fever; Painfully sore, raw and burning parts, esp. Nose, upper lip, corner of mouth; profuse, acrid discharges; nose feels blocked in spite of watery discharge; sneezing <night; can hardly talk from mucous in nares; heat of face and head during coryza (<left); pain, burning in palate in morning, in root of tongue.|
|Wyethia||Hay fever with itching in posterior nares; mucous membranes of mouth, nose and throat dry; acrid, burning, copious flow of mucous; violent sneezing and depressed spirits, < afternoon. Itching of palate compelled to scratch it with tongue.|
|Ambrosia artemisiaefolia||Hay fever with pronounced nasal congestion. Head feels stuffy. Profuse nasal watery discharge and bouts of sneezing. Intense burning in the eyes with intolerable itching and lachrymation.|
|Naphtalinum||Hay fever with coryza, eyes inflamed, painful, bloodshot; coryza, irritation of nose with thin, excoriating discharge; much sneezing.|
|Ranunculus||Hay fever with burning, smarting, soreness in eyes; stuffed up nose < towards evening; pressure at root of nose and tingling and crawling sensation within it’s cavity; nostrils scabby with profuse discharge of tenacious mucous; scraping, burning down throat, obstruction by tough mucous in throat and oesophagus < evening. Symptoms < air, damp, cold, open, drafts, evening; > warm weather.|
|Mercurius||Profuse, acrid, burning discharge of eyes; much sneezing, sneezing in sunshine, nostrils raw, ulcerated; yellow- green, fetid, pus-like discharges; profuse, fluent coryza, raw, smarting sensation < damp weather; acrid nasal discharges smell like old cheese; coryza at night, from wither cold or warm air; inflammation of fauces and tonsils; swelling of whole or tip of nose; throat as if too tight posteriorly, constant desire to swallow. Symptoms < night, air, sweating, when heated, drafts; > morning, moderate weather.|
|Psorinum||Chronic cases of long standing. There is prominent nasal congestion and symptoms are < exposure to cold and coffee; > heat.|
|Cyclamen||Swelling of eyelids with dryness and pressure; frequent sneezing and itching in ears; nasal catarrh with loss of smell and taste; coryza, watery discharge and sneezing; < warm room, > fresh air; dryness of nose; fluent coryza in morning.|
|Arundo||Hay fever, catarrhal states, burning and itching of palate and conjuctiva; eyes are red, swollen, burning with lachrymation; annoying itching of nostrils and roof of mouth; coryza with loss of smell; sneezing; in the beginning watery discharge from nose later becomes green mucous and white slimy masses; ulcerations of nose. Profuse salivation during coryza.|
While self-prescribing might be acceptable in certain cases, it is always recommended to seek the help of a qualified homeopathic practitioner to ensure proper case management and successful outcome with full remission.
Kristen D. Jackson, M.P.H.; LaJeana D. Howie, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.; Lara J. Akinbami, M.D, Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997–2011,National Health Interview Survey
Frans Vermuelen, Prisma
Frans Vermuelen, Concordant Materia Medica