Homeopathy and hayfever
Its hayfever season again so, we thought it would be timely to do a quick review of how I manage hayfever in my practice.
Hayfever is an allergic response to the presence of pollens (from trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers) in our environment. The symptoms are predominantly red itchy eyes with much sneezing and running nose. The palate in the mouth may be itchy and in severe cases, asthma may present. The symptoms can range in severity from being mildly irritating to completely debilitating and can change from day to day depending on the pollen count and weather conditions.
First-line conventional treatment revolves around the use of antihistamines and steroids (inhaled, oral or injected). Desensitization with subcutaneous injections of allergens can build resistance and help with sensitivity during hayfever season (a very crude form of homeopathy!).
In the ideal world, constitutional homeopathic treatment over a number of years to reduce the susceptibility and general health of the patient is preferred but whilst it is hayfever season, all we can really do is support the body whilst it is in distress. There are a number of ways in which we can do this.
One of the first things I do is suggest they try to limit or reduce their toxic load and exposure to potential allergens by working with their environment and diet.
Simple suggestions include
- Keeping windows closed on windy days,
- staying indoors at times when the pollen count is highest (morning and evening),
- wet dusting the house regularly,
- vacuuming using a cleaner which has a HEPA filter,
- keeping pets out of the living areas (especially bedrooms),
- removing shoes in the porch
- changing clothes once you come inside after being out for a while
A low-stress diet that eliminates foods that are known to cause allergies or intolerances such as gluten, dairy, wheat, flour, sugar may help too.
Supplements that I have found to be useful are Quercetin and Bromelain combinations. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid well known for it’s antihistaminic and anti-inflammatory effects. Interestingly, quercetin is found in onion which is allium cepa, one of our main homeopathic remedies for hayfever. Bromelain is found in the core of the pineapple and in addition to its digestive enzyme action, it is great as an anti-inflammatory. High dose vitamin C (4-5g / day) is also very good and may help regulate the action of our immune system.
Isopathic treatment is effective especially if you can identify the specific allergen. The common remedies we dispense are prepared from mixed pollens, mixed grasses, tree pollens, house dust mite, and cat/dog hair. We have made up more specific remedies too. Often, these remedies are given in a 6 or 30c potency daily (modified according to the response).
There are many remedies in our materia medica that can be used to treat the acute symptoms of hay fever. Below are a few of the more common and their main keynotes.
- Sabadilla – spasmodic sneezing with copious watery nasal discharge. Worse in a warm room. Nose and palate are itchy and the eyes are red with tears that burn.
- Euphrasia – eyes burning with hot tears. Nasal discharge is bland with lots of sneezing. Better for bathing the eyes, worse in warmth and sunlight.
- Allium cepa (reverse of euphrasia) – burning discharge from nose, excoriating around upper lip. Bland tears from eyes. Better for the open air. Very dull feeling in the head.
- Wyethia – intense itching of the roof of the mouth and soft palate. Must draw the tongue back and forth over it to get relief. Running nose with sneezing.
Other specific remedies to consider are arundo, galphimia, luffa operculata, nux vomica, arsenicum iodatum, kali bichromicum.
Our most common remedy is Hayfever co (which is a combination of the homeopathic remedies mixed pollens and grasses, sabadilla, euphrasia, and allium cepa). Whilst it is not a long term cure, it can help to relieve the symptoms of hay fever making life bearable and often reducing or removing the need for antihistamines and steroids. The remedy is taken on an as-required basis and may be repeated every couple of hours if needed,