The Drop – your dose of natural and homeopathic healthcare. Hay fever is often prevalent from October in many parts of Australia, as pollen shed by different plants is carried by wind, and provoke an allergic response in susceptible individuals. Homeopathy has traditional remedies that may be able to assist.
With an abundance of people complaining of itchy eyes, runny nose, headaches and excessive sneezing, particularly centring around the high population areas of Melbourne and Canberra, the 2015 hay fever season has been proclaimed by media as the ‘worst ever’.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is most commonly caused by an allergy to grass pollen, but can be also triggered by dust mites, mould, animal hair or fur, and air pollutants.
Seasonal hay fever, such as that during spring, occurs when there is an increase in wind-borne pollen of certain grasses, particularly pasture grasses such as perennial rye grass which is Australia’s number one cause of hay fever.
Its primary symptoms are:
- frequent sneezing
- runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- cough, caused by mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose.
Other symptoms include headache, tiredness and fatigue.
The tiny hairs and mucus that line the nasal passages trap particles of pollen, dust, etc, and the immune system of a person who is allergic to these particles will ‘attack’ as if it they’re dangerous. The passages become inflamed, and create more mucous.
Hay fever is quite prevalent, and according to 2007-2008 statistics, over 1 in 7 (approximately 3 million people) suffer from it. It is most prevalent during the middle years of life, specifically the 25 – 44 year age range.
The impact of hay fever depends on the individual – for some, it can be ‘slightly annoying’, but for others, it can severely impair their quality of life, affecting sleep, and causing them to under-perform at work or school.
Although most people manage hay fever with over the counter medication from their pharmacist, if you are experiencing persistent complications of hay fever, such as worsening of asthma or repeated episodes of sinusitis, please see your doctor.
Conventional treatment includes the use of corticosteroid nasal sprays and oral antihistamines.
Avoidance of triggers is another strategy used, and apps and websites like www.melbournepollen.com.au which list pollen counts and forecasts can help those affected plan their days.
So what about homeopathy? This is an area where there has been some scientific research, as well as traditional methods.
There have been a number of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies looking into the efficacy of homeopathy for hay fever, reporting positive results. These can be divided into three groups based on the strategy used:
- Isopathic – which uses the specific substance that causes a persons symptoms, which is diluted using a method called ‘potentisation’ to make a remedy. For example, rye grass is potentised to create a remedy which can be used therapeutically in those who are sensitive to rye grass pollen. Generally, these studies showed that Homeopathic treatment, as compared to placebo, produced a clear and measurable reduction in symptoms over the period of treatment, and improvement of the continued even after they stopped taking the medicine.
- Complex remedy – where a mixture of different remedies are combined together to work synergistically. In one study, a total of 155 people participated. The first remedy consisted of a mixture of Euphorbium (the ‘hero’ ingredient), combined with Pulsatilla, Luffa operculata, Mercurius bijodatus, Mucosa basalis suis, Hepar sulfuris, Argentum nitricum, and a sinusitis nosode . The other was a smaller mixture of Euphorbium, Pulsatilla, Luffa operculata, and Hepar sulfuris. In each case, participants were instructed to use two sprays to each nostril four times per day for 4 weeks. Information from questionnaires, as well as the findings from fiberoptic scope and ultrasound examination of the sinuses, were recorded at the first appointment, at 2 and 4 weeks, and after treatment had concluded at 4 months. The results indicated that the first homeopathic solution was more effective than placebo, improving such symptoms as nasal congestion, sensation of pressure, and headache (the second remedy did not prove effective).
- Single specific remedy – such as the remedy Galphimia glauca for the eye symptoms of hay fever. There have been 7 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies involving a total of 752 participants evaluating the potential benefits of Galphimia for this purpose. In one of these involving 201 people, the treatment group received Galphimia glauca 2c in a liquid solution of 43% alcohol, and the placebo was in an identical solution. Improvement was noted after 2 weeks, and the benefit of treatment over placebo continued to increase throughout the 4-week research period.
The traditional approach can again be divided into two groups:
- Those given for relief
- Those to lower susceptibility and re-occurrence of symptoms.
The following have been mainly suggested by John Henry Clarke, who was UK-based medical doctor and homeopath from the 1900s, but also from other sources.
- Sabadilla – Violent sneezing with tears, redness and swelling of eyelids, contractive stupefying headache. This can also be spayed up the nostrils in tincture form mixed into water.
- Allium cepa – for frequent sneezing, a lot of irritating nasal discharge and tearing eyes. Paradoxically, this remedy can be doubly indicated with the discharge is worse indoors, and better in open air. This sufferer can also tend to feel thirsty.
- Arsenicum album – if there is exhaustion with the hay fever, Arsenicum may be the remedy. There is stuffiness with copious, burning nasal discharge and violent sneezing. Those who tend to do well with Arsenicum tend to be restless, anxious, and exhausted.
- Gelsimium – hay fever with excessive sneezing. There could also be great fatigue here, and even horrible headaches.
- Nux vomica – for stuffiness with nasal discharge, dry, ticklish, and scraping nasal sensations with watery nasal discharge and a lot of sneezing. Those people who are irritable and impatient tend to do well with this remedy.
- Euphrasia – covers a picture of nasal discharge, with stinging, irritating tears. The nasal symptoms tend to be worse when lying down.
- Histaminum – for people who find anti-histamines provide relief, may find that histaminum is helpful for when when they would ordinarily take an anti-histamine.
To lower susceptibility
- Chrome alum – according to Clarke, chrome alum covers a large number of cases, and is valuable as a protective if given before the season sets in.
- Arsenicum – can also be used two weeks before the season, and for two weeks after to lower susceptibility to hay fever.
- Psorinum – is often used for those with chronic hay fever during the off-season to minimise the tendency to hay fever. It may take a couple of seasons before this fully ‘kicks in’. Another indicuation or its use is for people with great sensitiveness to cold air, with a strong desire to lie down.
- Desensitisation protocols – this often involves alternating different potencies of histaminum and the specific allergen in isopathic form (for example, rye grass), over a number of weeks to retrain the bodies reaction to the trigger.
So how to use homeopathy for hay fever?
Some of the remedies mentioned should be available from homeopathic pharmacies which service the public, but when in doubt, for a tailored, individualised homeopathic treatment plan, visit your local homeopath.
There is also information for booking in with me on the holisticnotion website.
That takes us to the end of this episode, and I hope that it has given you some insight into the use of homeopathy to support individuals with hay fever
The links and references mentioned in this episode will be listed at the end of this episodes shownotes at www.holisticnotion.com/thedrop
Thank you for listening.
References & resources
Hay fever, Better Health Channel, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/hayfever
Symptoms of hay fever, NHS (UK), http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
Hayfever season in Melbourne: The worst is yet to come say experts, Herald Sun, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/hayfever-season-in-melbourne-the-worst-is-yet-to-come-say-experts/story-fni0fit3-1227562719828
Evidence of thunderstorm asnthma in Canberra in hayfever season, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-01/evidence-of-thunderstorm-asthma-in-canberra-in-hayfever-season/6819044
Thunderstorm Asthma, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/asthma-and-allergy/thunderstorm-asthma
Explainer: What is thunderstorm asthma?, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-thunderstorm-asthma-4159
Pollen counting is not something to be sneezed at, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/pollen-counting-is-not-something-to-be-sneezed-at-18100
Allergic rhinitis, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, http://www.aihw.gov.au/allergic-rhinitis/
Melbourne pollen count and forecast, http://www.melbournepollen.com.au/
Kim LS, Riedlinger JE, Baldwin CM, et al. Treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis using homeopathic preparation of common allergens in the Southwest region of the US: a randomized, controlled clinical trial (April). Ann Pharmacother . 2005 Mar 1
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