Homeopathy treats allergies by the administration of minute doses of a homeopathic remedy that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the allergic response. Put simply, it treats not just the symptoms on the surface, but the entire person, at three levels — skin, respiratory and gastro-intestinal — effectively and without side-effects.
The word, allergy, was first used by Clemens von Pirquet, MD, an Austrian paediatrician, in the early 1900s. The expression originates from the Greek allos, for altered state, and ergon, connoting excess physiological reaction to substances in the environment. The fascinating idiom caught the fancy of the world. Today, allergy is the most overused term.
It describes everything from sneezing bouts and skin rash to aversion to work or early mornings, or even certain people!
Yet, millions of people do suffer from real allergies. Nearly 30 per cent test positive for one or more allergens, or allergy-causing substances. And that number is only increasing. In the last 25-30 years, the incidence of allergic rhinitis [nasal allergy, or hay fever], asthma, food allergy, or sensitivity, and atopic dermatitis [eczema] has sharply escalated. Nasal allergy, for example, among all age groups, is reported by 45-50 people for every 1,000.
The frequency reflects how common clinically diagnosed, easily established allergic conditions have become, although food allergy, or sensitivity, is not always as well recognised or appropriately treated.
There is more to allergy than what meets the eye, nose, respiratory system, skin, or gut. Below the lining of your skin, nose, eyes, gut and the lungs lie a set of mast cells. Mast cells are ‘smart’ entities. Their job is to destroy harmful intruders like parasites. They contain tiny ‘sacks’ crammed with chemicals which upon impact detonate such land mines. Among the substances released is histamine, a name that everyone suffering from allergy is only too familiar with. When histamine is released in tiny amounts, it causes irritation. In excess amounts, it causes skin rash, sneezing, characteristic of nasal allergy, and that dreaded asthma wheeze.
Mast cells are also filled with proteins called immunoglobulin-E [IgE] antibodies. IgE plays the role of a remote sensor like the antenna you have at home to receive TV signals. A person allergic to dust, for example, will have IgE antibodies that spot the dust particle, or allergen, just as your computer’s security system identifies a Trojan.
When dust triggers your sneezing reflex, the mast cells deposit IgE antibodies into the tissues causing the typical allergic reaction. It all depends, of course, on the substance that you are allergic to. The end result, however, is allergy. This may manifest in the form of a skin rash, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, sinusitis, cough, wheeze, or heightened, flagrant symptoms that end up in anaphylaxis [e.g., peanut allergy] — a life threatening form of allergic reaction.
Research has deciphered some of the likely, or cumulative, causes as to why the incidence or frequency of allergy has multiplied during the last 25-30 years:,
• Reduced exposure to parasitic disease in the developed world. This triggers the immune system to react against ‘harmless’ allergens
• Reduced, or lack of breast-feeding
• Pollution, pollutants, contaminated air and particulate matter from automobile exhaust
• Cigarette and tobacco smoke
•Low hygiene threshold or experiencing a highly protected living environment with very low infection early in life increases the risk of developing allergies
• Vitamin D deficiency or low levels.
Allergies can result from any, or every, substance. What you breathe in, or are exposed to — substances such as dust, house dust mites [HDM], pollen, mould spores or animal dander, certain plants, perfumes, cosmetics, preservatives, certain food, or conventional medications[e.g., aspirin], including blood transfusion, or insect stings, or bites — can all activate allergy.
What is alarming is the rising prevalence of food allergy or food sensitivity. The trigger for this kind of allergy is, as research points out, repetitive or excess consumption of certain foods — processed wheat and corn, food additives, artificial preservatives, colouring, flavour-enhancing agents, yeast and antibiotics. It is also observed that infrequent food rotation makes people inclined, or exposed, towards developing allergic hypersensitivities. Research also suggests that exposure to cow’s milk during the first three months of life is associated with high antibody and corresponding allergy levels — possibly up to eight years of age — more so, in children with maternal atopy, or a genetic tendency for allergic disorders.
The problem with food allergies is that there are a whole host of food-based allergic syndromes with symptoms other than ‘classical’ allergic indications.
This is why these are most often misdiagnosed and/or medically mismanaged. A further complication is the delayed pattern of food allergy with symptoms often becoming apparent only after hours or even days, making it less obvious to spot. Nor is food allergy accorded the seriousness it warrants given that it plays a crucial role in conditions ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], migraine headaches, Meniere’s disease [an inner ear disorder that affects balance and hearing], asthma, atopic dermatitis [eczema] and urticaria [hives] to irritable bowel syndrome [IBS].
Why Do Allergies Occur?
The allergic tendency is inherited; it occurs in every 2 individuals out of 5. If you have one allergic parent, for example, you have a 1-in-3 chance of developing allergy. If your mother and father have allergies, the risk is two-fold.
A new study shows that infants with low levels of cortisol, the stress chemical, have a low prevalence of allergies compared to children with higher levels of this hormone. Also protecting or keeping children away from certain foods during childhood puts them at a higher risk of allergies.
• Allergies are probably the oldest of conditions affecting our immune system
• The most common forms of allergy are Environmental and food allergies — the systems commonly affected are respiratory, gastro-intestinal and skin
• Allergies can range from mild-to-severe; they can even be life-threatening
What are the common symptoms of nasal allergy ?
Sneezing, runny nose, congested nose, itchy eyes, scratchy feeling in the nose and throat are commonly seen during an allergy attack. At times, there may also be difficulty in breathing or wheezing episodes.
How do we differentiate between a common cold and an allergic attack?
A common cold and a nasal allergy have a number of features which makes it sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two. Here’s how to tell which is which. A common cold usually has a gradual onset whereas allergies normally have a sudden onset, a history, or exposure to allergens. There may be fever and body ache with common cold. This may not be the case with allergies. Discharge from the nose is typically yellow in a cold; there is usually clear mucous in allergies.
COMMON QUESTIONS ANSWERED
I am 23 years old. Since the past three years I’ve been suffering from dust allergy. I get sneezing and a runny nose whenever I do any household work or travel outside. Please help.
You may be suffering from a condition known as allergic rhinitis, commonly called allergic cold. You must avoid dust as far as possible. Use a room purifier within the house. Cover your nose and mouth whenever you clean, or go out. Take the homeopathic remedy, Solanum Lycopus 6C, 4-5 pills twice daily for your dust allergy. Include foods rich in vitamin C — such as sweet lime, Indian gooseberry [amla], and lemon in your diet. Drink plenty of water. If symptoms persist, consult a professional homeopathic doctor.
My 13-year-old son gets red, raised patches on his body with severe itching. It settles down with anti-allergic tablets, but comes back again. Can homeopathy cure him?
It seems that your son is suffering from urticaria which is basically an allergic response. The allergy can be caused by food, conventional medicines, insect bites, or even due to cold, sunlight, pressure, sweat and so on. In children, urticaria is commonly seen after eating foods such as nuts, eggs, fish, milk or chocolates, among others. You may give your son Natrum Sulphuricum 6X, 4-5 pills twice daily. If symptoms persist, consult a professional homeopath in your town and start him on constitutional homeopathy treatment. Homeopathy will help build his immunity towards making him allergy-free.
I am highly sensitive to mosquito bites. The site of the bite turns into a hard, red bump with intense itching that lasts for more than a couple of days. What should I do?
You are allergic to mosquito bites and hence your body is reacting in this manner. In a person who is not allergic, the effect of bite wears off in a few seconds whereas in your case it persists. Start taking Apis Mellifica 30C, 4-5 pills twice daily for a few days till symptoms subside.
Cover your body adequately to avoid mosquito bites — use natural repellents, such as neem, as well. If the problem persists, consult a professional homeopathic doctor, for specific homeopathic treatment.
Healing with Homeopathy
Homeopathy treats allergies safely and effectively. In fact, homeopathy actually pioneered the research and treatment of allergies. It was the British homeopath C H Blackely who suggested, in 1871, that seasonal sneezing and nasal discharges were triggered by exposure to pollen dust, over twenty years before conventional [allopathic] medicine developed allergen injections.
The treatment approach is holistic — for seasonal, acute or long-standing allergies of all types. In homeopathic clinical practice, we first treat the flagrant, acute allergic conditions that individuals develop during the allergy season. We, thereafter, prescribe a ‘constitutional’ remedy, a remedy that relates to the individual’s temperament or personality to desensitise the individual against the allergen and resolve allergies from the inside out during the symptom-free part of the year.
The immune system keeps all our systems in top gear — functioning at their best possible levels. When there is latent stress on the immune system, triggered by an external or internal offender, it leads to allergy. When our body is strong, and in top gear, allergic problems which affect us the most during seasonal changes, are foreign to us and our system. Homeopathy enables us to achieve this state, naturally. It stimulates our natural healing processes by the use of micro-dosage remedies that closely match the specific, unique manner in which each of us responds to allergies.
Allergy, be it to dust or food, or anything else, is not a malady or infection. It is, as homeopathy evidences, the outward manifestation of a functional fault in the body. Homeopathy views food sensitivities too as external expressions of internal malfunction in the affected individual’s immune system.
Homeopathy treats allergies by the administration of minute doses of a homeopathic remedy that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the allergic response. For example, a severe allergic reaction to bee sting is treated safely and effectively with Apis Mellifica, a homeopathic remedy, made from honeybee. Put simply, homeopathy treats not just the symptoms on the surface but the entire person at three levels: skin, respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems.
HOMEOPATHIC CLINICAL STUDIES
Homeopathic treatment of allergic rhinitis [nasal allergy] has been well-documented in scientific research. A study published in the British Medical Journal showed a statistically significant improvement in objectively measured nasal air flow for allergy patients treated with homeopathic remedies.
In another study conducted at the University of Glasgow, Europe’s largest medical school, [allergic] asthma patients, given small homeopathic doses of the substance to which they were most allergic, showed significant relief within the first week of treatment — with no side-effects. The researchers called this unique method of individualising medicines as ‘homeopathic immunotherapy.’ Over 80 per cent of patients, given this homeopathic treatment improved while only 38 per cent of patients given a placebo [dummy pill] experienced an equivalent degree of relief.
The important thing to remember is that allergy is a system-related problem so appropriate treatment is best provided by a professional homeopathic doctor at the clinic. This is because allergy, be it nasal [rhinitis] or skin, is a natural reaction that occurs when our immune system overreacts to substances that one may have inhaled such as dust, or eaten such as fish. It is also complex — allergic rhinitis, for instance, consists of seasonal allergic rhinitis [hay fever] and perennial allergic rhinitis which afflicts some people all year-round.
While hay fever is precipitated by outdoor allergens, perennial allergic rhinitis is precipitated by household allergens — such as dust, mites, pet dander and mould. The disorder can affect people of all age groups, although boys tend to be more affected than girls.
HOMEOPATHY FOR SKIN ALLERGIES
Homeopathy offers the best treatment plan for seasonal skin problems including allergies. For over two centuries, homeopathy has successfully treated allergies flare-ups in winter with no side-effects. Other medical systems simply aim at symptomatic relief, or target the problem-causing factors. Homeopathy, on the other hand, aims to treat skin problems from the inside out — that is, from their root.
In a study published in The Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 82 per cent of skin patients who were treated with homeopathy for overa period of two years, showed significant improvementin their quality of life [QoL] and a significant reduction in their overall skin symptoms.
The skin is our largest organ. It forms a ‘barrier’ between our inner organs and our environment. It is the clearest mirror of our internal health. Even if you are one of those lucky ones blessed with a great, healthy skin, don’t let down your guard. Your skin still needs protection from the environment. It is now winter, a classic allergy season, so take care.
CASE STUDY 1
Vinita , a go-getter by nature, is an accountant in a local bank. She is always in a rush; she eats a quick breakfast while watching TV just before driving off to work. She has nasal allergy. Her nasal discharge resembles chewing gum; it is stringy and smells bad. She depends on anti-histamine pills for respite. When her nose gets blocked, she pumps in a nasal spray. When she returns home from work, she is exhausted. When she develops a fever, she pops an anti-cold or flu pill for quick relief which often triggers a tummy upset. She is fed up of her allergy and medications. Based on her overall symptompicture, especially stringy mucous, we put her on the homeopathic remedy Kali Bichromicum. A few weeks later, she can’t stop smiling — thanks to the homeopathic remedy that has provided her tangible, effective and safe relief from her allergic agony.
CASE STUDY 2
Seventeen-year-old Savio presented with frequent bouts of allergic rhinitis or nasal allergy which he had been suffering from for over five years. Any change of weather or the least hint of smoke and dust would trigger his allergic bouts — the resultant effect being incessant sneezing, sore throat and difficulty in swallowing even liquids including water. This would subside, albeit transitorily, with his anti-allergic conventional medications upon which he had become almost completely dependent. Following a detailedcase analysis, we prescribed him the homeopathic remedy, Baryta Carbonicum. Within just six months of homeopathic treatment, his allergic distress eased and became less frequent and less intense.
• Vacuum clean your mattress, upholstery and soft furnishings regularly. Wash bed-sheets, pillow covers and blankets regularly in hot water. This will ensure that the dust mite eggs, along with the mites, a common allergy trigger, are destroyed
• Dust with a dampened instead of dry cloth. Dry dusting tends to propel dust containing mites and their allergens into the air
• Boil-wash children’s soft toys. Or, bag them and put them in the freezer. Either action will kill dust mites
• You may find that pet hair, dander, saliva or urine could aggravate your condition. Ensure the dogs are brushed daily to prevent shedding. Install an air purifier and vacuum-clean the pet area regularly
• Avoid exposure to common triggers such as tobacco smoke, aerosol spray, certain perfumes and automobile exhaust
• Read food labels carefully to avoid food substances that you may be allergic to.