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Homeopathic Treatment of Allergies (Including Hay Fever)
by Dennis Chernin, MD, MPH
Allergies are caused by the body's hypersensitivity to foreign substances such as pollen, animal dander, dust, and food. Irritation of the mucous membranes along the upper respiratory system is common. Symptoms are sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, irritation of the roof of the mouth, a stuffy nose, congested sinus areas, and a headache. Allergies are not simple to treat; they generally represent a chronic problem that is genetic, although they may skip one, two, or three generations. Homeopathic remedies can help in the acute stages of allergies to help relieve the symptoms, but usually a more constitutional approach to help the underlying condition is necessary for permanent help.
Homeopaths believe there is an association between allergies, skin problems (such as eczema and hives), and asthma. It is best not to suppress the symptoms of the skin or mucous membranes since that can actually drive the process of irritation further into the system, creating such conditions as asthma or perhaps joint problems. It is always best to start with homeopathic remedies to see if the symptoms improve.
Allergies that occur in the wintertime are generally due to allergens such as dust from heating systems and molds that accumulate in basements, humidifiers, and furnaces. Allergies in the springtime are often due to tree pollen, and in late spring or early summer, grass pollens are usually the cause. Later in the summer, problems are often due to Ragweed, Goldenrod, and dust during the dry season. Molds, especially those from trees and leaves, are usually the allergen during early to late fall when the weather is damp.
Natural Treatments Can Help Allergies
Natural treatments that can help allergies include using eyeglasses or sunglasses to avoid getting pollens in the eyes and washing the eyes out with water after being outside and exposed to irritating pollens. Rinsing the nose with salt water can be helpful to wash out pollens. The use of a HEPA filter in the furnace can help take out mold, animal dander, and dust in the air. Keeping dogs and cats out of the house while children are suffering from allergies is also very important. Keeping the basement dry can help mold from accumulating. Having hardwood floors and avoiding carpeting is helpful, especially when the person is allergic to dust. If the person has a sensitivity to feathers, pillows made from foam rather than down should be used.
Other helpful hints are avoiding cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and alcohol, since they inflame bronchial tissues. Not storing newspapers and magazines and making sure that old rugs, carpets, stuffed animals, and upholstered furniture are clean are also helpful. Houseplants can be a source for pollen and should be avoided in the homes of people who have allergies. Venting clothes dryers outside is important, as is removing damp clothes from the washer quickly so mold does not accumulate. Keeping windows closed during the summer and fall when the allergens are high in the air can be of help. Running a clean air conditioner in the summer months may also help take mold out of the air. A low-fat diet is recommended and avoiding foods that are mucus producing, such as dairy, yeast, and sweets, is important. If the person is allergic to a specific food, that food should also be avoided. Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided in people who have allergies. Certain vitamins and herbs are known to help allergies. Consult herbal and nutritional references for further information.
Some Homeopathic Remedies That Can Help With the Symptoms Caused by Allergies
The eyes burn, sting, and swell and are sensitive to light. Tears are profuse but do not irritate the skin around the eyes (Euphrasia is the opposite with irritating eye discharge and non-irritating nasal discharge). An important characteristic is that the nose and eyes stream with great amounts of watery discharge. The person sneezes frequently. Acrid nasal discharge burns, making the nose and upper lip sore. Post-nasal drainage makes the throat raw. The person is extremely thirsty. A headache often accompanies the allergies and may be felt in the back of the head or in the forehead in the sinus area. Symptoms associated with Allium cepa seem to get better in the open air, especially when the air is cool. However, the cough that accompanies this illness may get worse when cool air is inhaled. Symptoms seem worse indoors or in a warm room.
Asthma is often associated with this type of allergy. Mental agitation, anxiety, and restlessness occur. The eyes burn, and tears are hot and acrid, stinging the face and cheeks. Sneezing can be extreme. There may be a tickle in one spot inside the nose that is not relieved by sneezing. Heavy mucus drainage from the nose alternates with blockage of the nose. Nasal discharge is thin and burning and is not yellow or green, but watery. The upper lip is irritated and raw from the discharge. There is extreme thirst for warm drinks, which are sipped rather than gulped. Often, breathing is labored. The person is chilly and intensely intolerant of light. Warm applications to the face and nose, elevating the head, and wrapping up the body seem to help the symptoms. Sitting up is often the best position. Wet weather, weather changes, and being by the ocean aggravate the symptoms. The allergies tend to get worse from midnight until 2:00 a.m.
The person has a constant desire to sneeze with irritation and tickling of the nose. Watery, irritating, and excoriating discharge comes out the front of the nose and runs down the back of the throat. If the allergy continues for a long period of time, the thin discharge changes to a thick, yellow, hanging discharge that becomes a post-nasal drip, irritating the back of the throat. There is a feeling of blockage within the head and eustachian tubes. Often, the person has trouble hearing because of this fluid blockage. The person seems better outside in the open air. Sneezing aggravates the condition as does dry and cold weather, windy and foggy weather, and tobacco smoke. Symptoms are also aggravated from exertion and being indoors.
Nasal discharge is extremely acrid and excoriating, producing raw sores on the front of the nose and upper lip. (Allergies associated with the Arsenicum iod remedy produce irritation but do not produce sores.) The nose can be obstructed, causing the person to breathe through the mouth. There is pain over the top part of the nose, with large scabs often forming on the right side. The person constantly picks at the nose and lips until they bleed. The lips, roof of the mouth, and palate are often sore or raw and burning; the lips are also chapped. The corners of the mouth can become raw, chapped, and cracked. There is profuse saliva. The voice becomes hoarse, and gets worse from overuse and talking a lot. The face may feel chapped, as if a cold wind were blowing on it. Cold and wet winds, lying down, and the heat of a room aggravate the allergies.
The roof of the mouth is extremely itchy, and the eyes and ear canals itch and burn. The nostrils itch annoyingly. Much sneezing and loss of smell are also common with these allergies.
Dulcamara is especially suited for the person who lives or works in a damp, cold home or office. Symptoms can result from sitting on cold, damp ground or with sudden changes of temperature, especially from warm to cold. The nose stuffs up with a cold rain; otherwise, there is constant sneezing and a profuse, watery discharge from the eyes and nose. Eye discharges get worse in the open air. The person is thirsty for cold drinks. Diarrhea and joint pain can come on, especially in cold weather. Symptoms are often worse on hot days and cold nights (toward the end of summer and in early autumn). Symptoms are better with external warmth or by moving around.
The eyes water constantly, causing itching and burning. Sometimes a sticky mucus on the eyes can be removed by winking or wiping them. Eye discharge is acrid, burning, and often thick (this is the opposite of Allium cepa). Nasal discharge is profuse and watery, but does not irritate the nose or upper lip (this is the opposite of Allium cepa). A frontal headache may accompany nasal discharge. Frequent sneezing that gets worse at night is common. However, if a cough is present, it is actually better at night and worse during the day. Allergies are worse in the sunlight and the wind. Staying in a dark room is helpful.
There is violent sneezing and nasal discharge. The face is hot and the nose tingles and often has a burning discharge, especially in the morning. Thirstlessness accompanies the allergies, even though the mucous membranes are dry. Eyelids become so heavy that the person can hardly open them. Common symptoms also include a dull headache and slight fever. Legs may ache, and a chill may run up and down the spine. A peculiar symptom is profuse urination that accompanies a headache. Allergies are often worse in humid, foggy weather and can be aggravated by sudden emotions, bad news, and sudden surprises. Allergies tend to be worse in the summer and in the morning around 10:00 a.m.
A profuse, watery, nasal discharge burns the nose and lip. The tip of the nose is often red. Frontal sinus pain is common. Pain in the sinuses and head may make the person anxious and irritable. When the sinuses are full, the nose is dry and does not have discharge. There is extreme thirst with violent sneezing. The person feels alternately cold and hot.
A common symptom of this type of allergy is excessive, watery, nasal discharge (similar to the raw white of an egg). This thin discharge often lasts from one to three days, and then the nose may become stuffy, making breathing difficult. Sneezing is also common. The tongue has a frothy, bubbly coating, especially around the edges. Sometimes canker sores develop on the lips and the corners of the mouth. A salt craving is a particular symptom associated with this type of allergy. The mouth is dry, and the thirst seems unquenchable. The person often loses the senses of smell and taste. Sometimes, a hammering headache accompanies these allergies, which can be worse over the eyes. Allergies are worse in the morning from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and in the sun when it is warm outside. Symptoms improve in the open air and when bathing in cool water. Perspiration also seems to relieve the allergies. The person often feels better wearing tight clothes or a tight wrapping around the body or face.
Prolonged sneezing spells occur, especially when first awakening in the morning. Nasal discharge is runny during the day, but the nose is stuffed up at night and outdoors, and the stuffiness alternates between nostrils. There is itching all the way from the throat to the larynx and trachea. Itching is also felt in the eustachian tubes. Uncovering, noise, odor, and touch can sometimes initiate sneezing. The person is chilly and irritable and often stays up late at night with the bothersome allergies. The allergies can get worse after eating a meal, in the cool and open air, in drafts, and in the wind. The person feels better when the nose begins to run. Symptoms are better from rest and napping, warm drinks, and moist air.
The most common symptom of this type of allergy is excessive sneezing with a runny nose. Prolonged sneezing attacks can cause nosebleeds and severe headaches. Severe frontal sinus pain is a common symptom. The person can be particularly sensitive to the smell of apples. The eyes have a watery discharge, and there is great itching in the nose. The roof of the mouth itches which is relieved by rubbing the tongue on it. This palate itching is less intense than seen with Arundo or Wyethia. The eyelids are hot, red, and burning; however, the tears do not redden the skin around the eyes. Sometimes the person has difficulty hearing due to eustachian tube blockage. The mouth is dry, yet the person is not thirsty. There is a general body chilliness and a sensitivity to cold air. Symptoms are often worse from the odor of strong foods such as garlic and onion and certain flowers. Allergies are relieved with warm food and drinks.
The back of the nose has a feeling of fullness with a dryness of the nasal membranes. The person sneezes often and constantly needs to blow the nose, but there is no discharge. Dry scabs form, especially in the evening and at night. There is a feeling of floating in the air. Sometimes the neck is stiff. A dry, hacking cough comes on at night, which gets worse on inspiration. Allergies tend to get worse with sudden changes of temperature.
The back of the nose and roof of the mouth itch intensely (similar to the allergies associated with Arundo). The throat is dry and has a sensation of being swollen, causing difficulty with swallowing and clearing the throat of mucus (Arundo has fewer throat symptoms).
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About the Author
Dennis K. Chernin, MD, MPH practices holistic and family medicine in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Besides offering medical care, he also offers patients and students individualized instruction on meditation using chakras, mantras, and the breath. He has actively practiced and taught meditation and breathing techniques for thirty years. His teachers were trained in the Himalayan Mountains in India, Nepal, and Tibet. Chernin also serves as the medical director of two county health departments and is a lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine program.
Dr. Chernin graduated from Northwestern University with a major in cultural anthropology and was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He received his M.D. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. He did residencies in psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin and in preventive medicine at the University of Michigan and is board certified in public health and preventive medicine. Besides his current book release How to Meditate Using Chakras, Mantras, and Breath, his other publications include the books Health: A Holistic Approach and Homeopathic Remedies. He has also written an interactive CD ROM called The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses.
Visit his website to learn more about him and his holistic approach to healing.