Homeopathy is highly effective in the treatment of allergies and fully capable of stimulating the organism to heal to the point of complete relief from all allergy symptoms.
Many of us have suffered from allergies at one time in our life, and usually the best treatment offered was symptomatic relief through avoidance of the allergen or through medication. Homeopathy, on the other hand, addresses the cause of the sensitivity to allergens at the deepest possible level; avoiding the allergen (the substance responsible for the allergic response) or resorting to suppression of symptoms through ongoing symptomatic treatment becomes unnecessary once this sensitivity has been eliminated.
In this article I begin with (1) a short overview of allergies, followed by (2) discussion of the conventional approach, (3) the homeopathic diagnostic approach and (4) the rationale behind the homeopathic approach to the treatment of allergies.
1. The many types of allergy
There are many common substances to which people may develop an allergic response, including:
• Foods such as wheat (gluten), milk and dairy, seafood (shellfish), alcohol, soy, eggs, peanuts, and certain vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants).
• Common environmental factors such as dust, pollen, mold, animal fur (from dogs, cats, or other pets), dust mites, and sunlight.
• Various natural or synthetic substances such as latex, nickel, pesticides, medications (penicillin, sulfa drugs, and many more), venom from relatively harmless animal stings (bees, wasps).
Symptoms of allergy manifest at the interface between the external world and internal environment: on the skin and in mucus membranes of the respiratory tract, the digestive tract, and the eyes. The inflammation that results causes the various allergy symptoms that many of us are familiar with from personal experience or through someone we know.
It should be noted that some of the above substances may cause trouble to many otherwise healthy people. If this is the case and the substance is synthetic or strongly modified from its natural form (medications, commerical wheat, genetically modified soy, etc.) then it may indeed be the substance rather than personal sensitivity that should be viewed as the true cause, and avoidance may well be the most appropriate solution in such cases.
Indeed, there are many substances encountered in modern life to which we are not physiologically adapted. These are a frequent cause of intolerance symptoms such as mental fogginess, tiredness, poor digestion, skin rashes, and diarrhea.
Intolerance should be distinguished from allergy by its lesser specificity and intensity of symptoms, and the term may also refer to certain hereditary conditions in which the body is unable to handle specific food components or environmental conditions for reasons that have nothing to do with the immune system. From the therapeutic point of view intolerance (except of the hereditary type) is approached similarly to allergy, although frequently with more emphasis on avoidance.
In addition, some forms of asthma are allergic in nature, seasonal allergies are frequently referred to as hay fever, and a skin allergy usually manifests itself as hives.
Whatever the exact terminology applied, the goal of homeopathic allergy treatment is the strengthening of the organism at its spiritual core, leading to increased resilience of the organism. A resilient person is able to withstand a wide variety of environments by responding appropriately to each situation without suffering chronic ill effects
The homeopathic diagnostic approach
The homeopathic treatment of allergies begins with the physical symptoms but doesn't end there. Important clues to the homeopathic pattern and prescription can be found in:
• life circumstances around the time of onset of the allergy symptoms;
• situations which cause an exacerbation of the allergy symptoms;
• situations which lead to a relief from allergy symptoms;
• feelings aroused by the allergy symptoms, or the person's unique experience of the condition;
• how the allergy symptoms disrupt normal living, or what the person is thereby prevented from doing.
Again, it is important to understand that the specific allergy symptoms are not in themselves a disease but merely represent the underlying spiritual imbalance that is the root of all disease. Whether a person will develop allergies, skin problems, joint problems, or organ problems is largely dependent on hereditary factors as well as on the degree of suppression of symptoms from past medical treatment.
In the case of severe allergies and asthma it is important never to reduce or discontinue the use of medications until the allergic tendency has clearly and permanently been eliminated, and even then always in consultation with the treating physician. Likewise it is important to maintain access to emergency facilities in case of a dangerous exacerbation throughout treatment, and to continue carrying antihistamines, inhalers, an EpiPen adrenaline injector, etc. whenever away from home for use in case of a severe reaction.
The homeopathic approach to food allergies may surprise some people: food allergies will completely disappear with proper treatment. This seems to be in contrast to the usual medical approach of eliminating the offending food or using digestive aids and then viewing the patient as cured.
A true food allergy differs from food sensitivity or intolerance. When a patient develops hives or anaphylactic shock after exposure to a certain substance, that is a true allergy. It involves the immune system and can be life threatening. An example of this would be the peanut allergy that is now seen quite often in children.
Some children have a true allergy to milk or eggs and react with an itchy rash (hives); swelling, either local or generalized; or changes in breathing, pulse and consciousness (anaphylactic shock). In this situation, conventional medicine such as antihistamines and adrenaline injections can save the person's life and should be the mainstay of acute treatment. Life-long avoidance of the offending food makes sense if the risk is high.
In the meantime, homeopathic treatment can help strengthen the immune system. After homeopathic treatment, if there is an accidental exposure, the chances of a severe reaction are reduced. In addition, acute homeopathic remedies, such as Apis mellifica for hives, can be added to the conventional treatment.
Food sensitivity or intolerance is a more common problem. These are characterized by nasal congestion, gas, heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea-even distant symptoms such as a migraine or leg pains. The immune system is not involved and the risk to the patient from exposure is not great. However, the symptoms can be quite debilitating.
Homeopathy views food sensitivities (and allergies, too) as an expression of a disturbance in the patients energetic system. This system keeps all the tissues and organs as well as the emotions and intellectual apparatus functioning at optimum level. Under stress, the energetic system will cause certain symptoms, such as food intolerances or allergies, to appear. These symptoms are not a disease to be cured in themselves, but a reflection of an underlying, deeper malfunction.
Although the superficial symptoms of food intolerances can be treated with acute remedies, such as Nux vomica (heartburn, burning stomach pains, better after eating) or Carbo vegetabilis (stomach gas and distension), it is important to treat the entire person with more deep-acting constitutional remedies in order to prevent the recurrence of the problem. The added advantage of this latter approach is that symptoms that appear along with food intolerances, such as chronic headache, insomnia and fatigue, will also be addressed.
In the short term, avoiding the offending food and using digestive enzymes may be helpful. It will alleviate nasal congestion, bloating or other symptoms for a period of time. However, in the absence of a more deep-acting treatment, new food sensitivities tend to develop.
Although homeopaths encourage proper diet and lifestyle, freedom to be able to eat just about anything is the goal of homeopathic treatment. A child that can go to a birthday party next door and eat cake and ice cream without significant risk to her health is considered a healthier child.
To achieve this level of health, homeopathic patients are treated with constitutional remedies. These remedies have a profound effect on the constitution of the whole person, not only one part of their system, as occurs in acute prescribing. They take much more into account and require the experience of a trained homeopathic practitioner to prescribe them.
Constitutional treatment is similar to piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle: each puzzle piece represents a symptom or characteristic of the patient. Symptoms can be mental, emotional or physical. The patients personality, desires and aversions, past medical history and family history must also be considered. Some puzzle pieces have been smudged by previous treatments, surgery or drugs. Some pieces are missing. A skilled homeopath can recognize the final picture and match it to the correct constitutional remedy.
The fundamental principle of homeopathy is like cures like; in other words, a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure those same symptoms in a sick person. As there are over 2,500 remedies in the homeopathic pharmacopoeia, it is not always an easy job to find this remedy. The remedy strength and frequency of administration are also important factors in a successful outcome