Human beings are sensory creatures. We’re all sensitive to emotions or to stimuli around us. But what happens when it’s a physical sensitivity? What happens when you’re reacting to something all around you? That’s the case with a growing number of people in the UK. Allergies are on the increase and living with an allergy can make things that other people take for granted, near impossible or even life threatening. Allergy awareness still has a long way to go in the UK, but pressure is now on restaurants, schools and workplaces to be ‘allergy aware’. As homeopaths, it’s very likely we’ll encounter patients with allergies, so our awareness, likewise needs to increase.
People can be allergic to anything: most commonly it’s foods, metals, pollen and grasses. Many patients have multiple allergies and there is a correlation between allergies and asthma. This time of year is particularly troublesome. The time when up to 30% of UK adults have to endure several
months of misery. A time when invitations to picnics in the park have to be declined. A time when lounging in the garden is off-bounds and a time when some would rather be locked indoors. It’s here – and there’s no escaping – summer catarrh time (aka ‘hay fever season’).
According to the NHS, there is ‘no cure for hay fever and you cannot prevent it’. Not exactly the message hay fever sufferers want to hear. The NHS do offer some advice for easing the symptoms: stay indoors, close windows, don’t dry clothes outdoors and ensure you shower after
being outdoors to remove pollen from your clothes. But these offer no real relief to the already intensely itching eyes, the streaming nose and the persistent sneezing. Eye drops and antihistamines are available over-the-counter but these too, are ineffective and of little relief, essentially sentencing the individual to a season of suffering. The condition now accounts for 16.7 million visits to doctors surgeries, annually (Allergy UK, 2020).
Hay fever is known by several names: the summer cold, seasonal allergy, hay asthma, summer catarrh and, by it’s proper name: allergic rhinitis. Allergies are nothing new: there are records of allergic symptoms occurring in ancient civilisations however, our understanding of allergies, in particular allergic rhinitis, has only developed in the last 150 years.
It was Mancunian homeopath, Charles Harrison Blackley (1820-1900), who progressed the understanding of allergic reactions and whose self-experimentation method is still the leading method of allergic diagnosis
today. A seasonal sufferer himself, Blackley was determined to discover the cause of his allergy. The outcome of his systematic investigation was the discovery that there is a connection between pollen and hay fever and that pollen was the cause of his symptoms. But knowing the cause does
not alleviate the symptoms for sufferers: pollen is not something that’s easily avoided – we cannot hibernate through the spring and summer seasons. So how can Blackley’s work help us today?
Blackley recognised that hay fever was not a straightforward condition to address. He wrote a letter to Charles Darwin in 1873 explaining:
‘the problem of cure has still to be solved and really resolves itself principally into a question of prophylaxis. I fear it will prove to be the most formidable and difficult part of the task I originally set myself’.
James Tyler Kent agreed with this position. In 1897, when describing Sabadilla in his Materia Medica, Kent explains how the symptoms of hay fever can only be palliated. However, Kent explains that if the patient is treated constitutionally between seasons, then the hay fever
symptoms get weaker each year. Kent noted that hay fever ‘must be treated with anti-psorics’ and that only through ‘constitutional upbuilding can it be mitigated’. Finally, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, or should we say, flowers at the end of the garden path.
In June 2018, the Daily Mail newspaper ran an article questioning why the NHS had stopped funding homeopathy despite proof that it worked, citing the case of a middle aged woman with chronic hay fever. The article describes how she had found no relief from daily use of antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, to being virtually symptom free for several years, having only to take one pill a few times a year. Taking the homeopathic remedy in this way is very much the prophylactic that Blackley described. But what remedy did she take, and will it work for everyone? The woman in the article was given Lac Delphinum and whilst it is not listed in Murphy’s Repertory as an indicated hay fever remedy, it matched her symptoms and has been very effective in her case. But not everyone’s experience of hay fever is the same. For some, it starts with a
sneeze, for others the first sign is the watery eyes. Some people may experience itching eyes, whilst for others the itching is bothersome in the throat. This vast variation of symptoms is precisely accounted for in homeopathy – which is why it is so effective. With over 80 remedies
indicated for hay fever, homeopathy has got it covered and relief from hay fever is possible. Not only is there immediate relief, the annual attacks can be weakened year after year with constitutional prescribing to the point where the patient is virtually symptom free. With over 80 remedies available, differentiation is based on the patient’s unique symptoms. Some of the strongest indicated remedies include:
This wonder remedy is made from the red onion and strongly indicated for use in cases of hay fever. The mucous membranes are affected with ‘acrid nasal discharges’. There is a ‘profuse watery discharge when sneezing’. The eyes itch and burn, are sensitive to light, and with much watering. The patient feels better in open air and better in a cold room. They are also better for motion. Warm rooms make their symptoms worse, they are worse in the evenings and feel worse when they are resting.
This is a remedy for hay fever that features an intolerable itch of the eyelids and much lachrymation. The ambrosia patient’s nose and head feels stuffed-up. There is sneezing and even nosebleeds. The entire respiratory tract is congested. There is a tendency to have loose stools.
Lachrymation in arsenicum patients is hot and corrosive, causing the eyelids and cheeks to be sore. There is intense photophobia. There will also be a burning sensation in the throat. There will be burning and itching in the nose which feels bunged up and causes sleeplessness. Despite the burning sensation, the patient is cold and thirsty. The arsenicum patient is worse at midnight and worse in cold rooms.
There is a pale red inflammation of the eyelids which itches intensely. The eyelids are heavy. There is a dryness of the mouth and abortive sneezing. There is mucous in the upper part of the throat, along with itching. There is watery discharge from the eyes and the nose. The patient is better for cold applications and worse for sitting down.
Indicated for cold and flu symptoms, the patient who needs gelsemium has
drooping eyelids which are heavy. They have a dull headache and thin, watery discharge from their nose. The symptoms will come on slowly and the patient will be aching and lethargic. Gelsemium patients are thirst-less, better in the open air and better in the afternoon. They are worse in the spring and worse in damp weather.
Made from the Cevadilla seed, this remedy helps the patient whose eyelids are burning and red. The Sabadilla patient has spasmodic sneezing and is very sensitive to odours, especially of flowers. There is itching and tickling in the nose which eventually spreads to the whole body. One nostril will be runny whilst the other will be stuffed up.
The homeopathic materia medicas provide exact precision for selecting an indicated remedy. In Murphy’s ‘Meta Repertory’ (2018), we find the following sub-rubrics which further
pinpoint specific remedies:
Nose, hay fever:
: annual, prophylactic
: asthmatic, breathing, with
: August, in
: autumn, in
: chronic, coryza
: dryness, of mucus membranes of nose, mouth and throat with
: grass, newly mown
: spring, in
Once the acute symptoms have been treated and the season has passed, the patient should be treated constitutionally, as noted by Kent. Constitutional remedies that include susceptibility to allergies include Calcarea Carbonicum, Lycopodium, Natrum Muriaticum, Pulsatilla, Silica and
Sulphur. Of the nosodes: Carcinosin, Medorrhinum, Psorinum and Tuberculinum are all usceptible to allergies.
A case of a family member who once suffered the most awful attacks of hay fever every year, is now relieved thanks to homeopathy. Lachrymation was so profuse that he would have to wipe his eyes constantly. It made simple, everyday tasks like driving and work near impossible. His symptoms were always worse late in the evening when he was in bed. He had tried every over-the counter medication available but nothing helped and every year symptoms were getting worse. After receiving a course of Allium Cepa the patient found his symptoms reduced by 95%. He was amazed. He was treated constitutionally with Calcarea Carbonicum over the winter period. Next April, when the first sneeze appeared, he was initially full of dread but relieved to find that the initial sneeze progressed no further. His symptoms were less severe than they had ever been. He took an Allium Cepa enjoying being outdoors for the first time.
Another method of approaching allergies with homeopathy is by prescribing isopathically. This method has been recently tested at the Homeopathic Allergy Clinic in Glasgow with promising
results. Blackley himself, tested over 80 different types of pollen and these, as well as a wealth of other common allergens are available from homeopathic pharmacies today. Combinations are available of ‘Mixed Grasses’ or ‘Mixed Pollens and Grasses’ as well as specific grasses: ‘Timothy
Grass’, ‘Couch Grass’ or ‘Annual Meadow Grass’. By identifying the exact allergen, which is performed using the skin prick test devised by Blackley, using homeopathic isopathy can result in a degree of desensitisation, thereby lessening the body’s adverse immune response. Some of these
remedies have been proved and their remedy pictures are available.
This method is not limited to allergic rhinitis but has been used for reactions to cats, dogs, mold, dust, food and metals. With ‘one in two people’ now suffering from allergies (The Telegraph, April 2020) it is clearly a condition that the homeopath will encounter in their practice.
Homeopathy is effective because it has a range of precision tools available to address this complex condition, based on the fundamental principles of homeopathy. It is not suggesting that isopathic prescribing is a cure to allergies, but it can help to make the world less hostile to sensitive patients
where a specific allergen has been identified. As Blackley indicated, the matter of treating allergies is complex. There are a whole range of factors that need to be taken into account to identify the correct remedy before prescribing such as: constitutions, layers, miasms, the patient’s lifestyle,
health, medical and family history and general well-being. Isopathic prescribing should only be a part of the treatment and should follow the symptom picture displayed by the patient at all times.
My youngest son was helped using a range of methods whilst following his symptom picture. Three weeks after he was born he developed a severe skin condition and diarrhoea. He was initially treated with Sulphur for the red, oozing, intensely itching and hot skin, worse for bathing, which helped his skin to some extent and improved the diarrhoea. However, the cause was not addressed: symptoms returned and there were frequent flare-ups causing intolerable itching. It was noticed that the flare-ups were worse when he ate certain foods. He was given constitutional remedy Lycopodium as his skin was incredibly dry, he had eczema from birth, was worse for
farinaceous foods, beans, peas etc. was constipated and was rather dictatorial for a toddler, – strongly pointing towards Lycopodium. It was identified that he was allergic to nickel which he was absorbing through foods. Interestingly, many of the foods that Lycopodium are averse to, or
are worse for, are in fact foods high in nickel.
Foods that Lycopodium are averse to/worse for, which are also high in nickel:
Averse to: Beans and peas; brown bread; rye bread; cabbage; farinaceous foods; onions;
Worse for: Beans and peas; cabbage; chocolate; onions; carrots; fruit; oysters; sardines (if tinned), shellfish; turnips; beer; (some) salads; vegetables.
It makes me wonder whether the digestive issues of Lycopodium are in some way linked to nickel, which is present in all foods, in varying amounts. Intake of vitamin C helps to block to uptake of nickel, but as our Lycopodium friends tend not to like fruit and vegetables, they may not
have the levels of vitamin C necessary to block the uptake of nickel. Lycopodium and Niccolum Metallicum do share many keynotes and are indicated as comparative in Clarke’s Materia Medica (1901). This treatment, in conjunction with adaptation of his diet and lifestyle, resulted in improved tolerance to foods high in nickel. When it appeared that the treatment had exhausted its action and was no longer making improvement, he was treated with Tuberculinum, which cleared up the
remaining eczema on his skin. This combination of constitutional, miasmatic and isopathic remedies has treated his condition where conventional medicine had no option other than a lifetime of steroid cream and antihistamines. Where he was once limited to a very small range of tolerable foods, he now has a thriving appetite and is enjoying a range of foods like everyone else.
Living with an allergy can be so debilitating, impacting every aspect of your lifestyle. Conventional medicine offers little help but homeopathy has been shown to be extremely effective in supporting people with allergies to lead a normal life and enjoy some of the basic things that others take for granted. It would be very exciting to see more of the potentised allergens proved to provide a remedy picture in the future.
Clarke, J. H. Dictionary of Materia Medica (Volume II), ‘Niccolum’. Health Science Press, Devon, UK, 1977. pp580-584
Kent, J. T. Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica ‘Sabadilla’ B. Jain Publishers, India, 2005. pp895-896
Kent, J. T. Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy ‘Lecture XIX: Chronic Diseases – Psora’ Merchant Books, 2008. pp153-160
Murphy, R. Nature’s Materia Medica Lotus Health Education, USA, 2006. pp89-92, 120, 226-235, 773-775, 835-852, 1692-1695
Murphy, R. Meta Repertory ‘Nose’. Lotus Health Education, USA, 2018. pp1685-1686
Vermeulen, F. Prisma. ‘Lycopodium’. Emryss, The Netherlands, 2004. pp845-852
Allergy UK, Statistics https://www.allergyuk.org/information-and-advice/statistics, 2020 (date accessed 15/05/2020)
Daily Telegraph, One in Two People Now Suffer from Allergies
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7521477/One-in-two-people-now-suffer-withallergies.html, April 5th, 2020. (date accessed 23/05/2020)
Neil Beattie, Allergies https://www.britishhomeopathic.org/charity/how-we-canhelp/articles/conditions/a/allergy-the-bane-of-modern-living/ British Homeopathic Association, (date accessed 23/05/2020)
NHS, Hay fever https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/, December 2017 (date accessed 15/05/2020)
University of Cambridge, Darwin Correspondence Project
https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/charles-harrison-blackley, 2020. (date accessed 15/05/2020).