When working well, our immune system protects us from the bacteria, viruses and toxins that enter our bodies. With hay fever though, something goes horribly amiss and it starts to over-react to harmless substances such as pollens, grasses, and animal dander. This allergic response results in a cluster of symptoms that make life miserable such as sneezing, stuffy or running nose, itching, headaches, asthma, watery eyes, post nasal drip and fogginess.
While hay fever may seem to be about surface symptoms only, it is really a deep-seated complaint. Commonly prescribed sprays and tablets that suppress hay fever symptoms may bring temporary relief but theyn never get to the root of the problem. They are also associated with side effects and are the least helpful option for long-term improvement.
In this article we will show you some simple self-help measures that go a long way to reducing the frequency and intensity of hay fever symptoms, plus explore the homeopathic and conventional treatment options from the perspective of effectiveness and safety. Finally, a list of remedies commonly used by homeopaths to treat hayfever, along with when they should be chosen, will help you decide which one may help you.
Simple Steps for Managing Hay FeverThere are several self help measures that cost very little which you can do yourself to help with hay fever. They are:
- Drink plenty of water. When you’re well hydrated the mucous membranes of your nose remain moist to expel allergens more easily.
- Consider using a neti pot. These small pots can be filled with a warm sea salt solution and used to flush your nasal passages and expel irritants.
- Coat your nostrils. Lightly smear a non-absorbent ointment, such as paw-paw ointment, onto the inner surface of your nostrils to provide a protective barrier that traps allergens.
- Know your triggers. Most hay fever sufferers are affected by the wind but some are worse indoors while others itch and sneeze when outside. Avoid your triggers when pollen counts are high.
- Use Food as your Medicine.
Onions and garlic can be used for their homeopathic effect – the symptoms they cause, they can also treat. Both contain natural compounds that reduce the inflammation of hay fever. Add them liberally to your meals or, if you are up to it, eat them by themselves to reduce nasal irritation and streaming eyes.
Local raw honey can be used as a crude form of homoeopathy to desensitise yourself to local pollens from which the honey was produced. Start by taking a small amount each day before the start of hay fever season, gradually increasing to a teaspoon or more. Continue right through the season for best results.
Spices such as horseradish, mustard, chillies and fenugreek also help through a crude homoeopathic effect – they can relieve the very hay fever-like symptoms they produce. Add them liberally to meals or take them alone to thin mucus and expel irritants.
Safe and Risky Ways to Treat Hay FeverIf we want the best result for the least risk when treating our health problems, we must think carefully about the treatment we choose.
Conventional medicine depends on the allopathic effect1 for most of its treatments. It relieves symptoms by palliating or suppressing them for short periods of time. The drawback is that side effects are common and continual suppression leads to worsening health.
Homeopathy2 seeks to stimulate a self-healing response from the person’s own vitality. The goal of treatment is to strengthen rather than weaken this vitality so that full healing is more likely. Homeopathy does this through potentised3remedies that closely match the symptoms of the person’s disease and are free of toxic side-effects.
To get a better idea, let’s compare the two approaches in what they offer for hay fever.
The Conventional Approach – Allopathic TreatmentConventional medicine treats hay fever with antihistamines, steroids, or desensitisation treatments. For stubborn cases that fail to improve, laser surgery may be used to destroy the mucus-forming nasal tissue. Let’s look at each option in more detail.
AntihistaminesAnyone can be affected by the side-effects of antihistamines but children and the elderly are more vulnerable. Antihistamines can worsen conditions such as glaucoma, enlarged prostate gland, difficulty in passing urine, or bowel blockage, and their safety during pregnancy hasn’t been established. They also hold increased risks for those with liver or kidney disease.
Some of the most common side-effects include: headache; drowsiness; dizziness; blurred vision; confusion; dry mouth; constipation; and difficulty passing urine. And once the antihistamine effect wears off, hay fever symptoms are usually return.
SteroidsSteroids (corticosteroids) for hay fever are available as sprays, creams and tablets. Steroids create many more problems than antihistamines. They lead to unpleasant and even dangerous side-effects such as high blood pressure, bleeding from the bowels or stomach, reduced healing, poor muscle growth, weight gain, and electrolyte imbalances. Long term use increases the likelihood of diabetes, glaucoma, and eye damage.
And if that’s not enough, additional side effects include mood swings, personality changes, agitation, nervousness, tiredness, lack of energy, and depression. There are certainly safer ways of managing hay fever than resorting to steroids!
Desensitisation TreatmentsHomeopathy is everywhere – even in approaches sometimes used by conventional medicine. Modern allergy treatments that expose people to small amounts of the substance to which they are allergic, unknowingly use the homeopathic principle of ‘like treats like’. Homeopaths have known of this approach for almost two centuries but are also aware that if even smaller amounts are used, and in potency, the results are much faster and better.
Homeopaths also understand that while a homeopathic remedy prepared from an allergen (the substance that triggers an allergic response) can bring temporary relief or surface improvement, a deeper-acting remedy that addresses the person’s whole state of ill-health will lead to the hay fever being eradicated completely and better health overall.
Laser SurgeryLaser surgery is used to vaporise the mucus membranes of the nose to inhibit the symptoms of hay fever. Care has to be taken to prevent burning of the nasal tissue. Success is variable and re-vaporisation is often needed as symptoms will often return over time.
Homeopathy and Hay Fever ResearchNumerous studies indicate homeopathy should be the treatment of choice for allergies. They show that homeopathic treatment alleviates the symptoms of hay fever and other hypersensitivity disorders without dangerous side-effects and improve quality of life. A sampling of these studies have been placed in the Research section of the website.
Treating Hay Fever with HomeopathyTreating yourself with homoeopathy during an acute phase of hay fever is easy as long as you know which remedy that matches your symptoms. Relief is usually rapid and all remedies are safe for use with babies through to the elderly when given according to instructions.
Do be aware that self-treatment does have its limits. While the remedies and potencies in home use kits help to provide symptomatic relief they are unlikely to get deep enough to correct a predisposition to chronic hay fever. A course of treatment by a qualified homeopath is much better suited to this. The bonus is that other health problems should also improve, along with your hay fever.
To relieve acute hay fever symptoms yourself, look through the remedies listed below to see which one matches your symptoms – then just take it. Instructions on how to dose, and how often, can be found here. If there is no improvement by 3-4 doses just reassess your symptoms and choose a different remedy that matches your symptoms more closely.
Should you find it difficult to sort through your symptoms, ABC Homeopathy has an online remedy finder to make it easier. Or, consider using our Hayfever Complex that combines a number of the more frequently needed remedies for you.
Alternately, an appointment can be made with a homeopath who will assess your symptoms in full and make a constitutional prescription to help you get on top of the problem once and for all.
The following are some of the common remedies homeopaths use in the treatment of hay fever.
Arsenicum album (Ars.)This is one of the best remedies for hay fever. Burning or itching in the nose, eyes or throat being a strong indication. The discharges from both eyes and nose will be burning (but check to make sure that Allium cepa or Euphrasia are not better indicated – Euphrasia has the opposite symptoms). An improvement of the symptoms in the open air, although sensitive to light, is usually an indication for this remedy.
Euphrasia (Euphr.)A classic remedy for hay fever where, again, there is lots of sneezing with streaming eyes and nose. If the water from the eyes burns the cheeks and the discharge from the nose is not too bad, this remedy is needed. (Allium cepa has the opposite symptoms). The remedy is indicated if the symptoms improve in the open air – obviously away from pollen. Sensitivity to light may be apparent in both Euphrasia and Allium cepa.
Natrum muriaticum (Nat-m.)Initially, there is a streaming, bland discharge from both the eyes and nose with lots of sneezing. Later, there is nasal discharge that is thick and clear like the white of an egg with loss of taste and smell. This is not one of the main remedies for hay fever but it can bring great relief to the type who gets easily burned, feel generally miserable, uncomfortable, blotchy and irritated in the sun.
Nux vomica (Nux-v.)This is one of the best remedies for when there is lots of sneezing, streaming from the eyes and nose, and an irritable, nasty mood. (If they are sweet tempered, it is unlikely to help.) The symptoms are worse in dry air and relieved when the atmosphere is damp.
Pulsatilla pratensis (Puls.)The main indications for this remedy are a weepy, needy, state of mind, together with discharges that are thick, bland (not acrid) and green or yellow. Pulsatilla frequently has one side of the nose blocked or congested.
Sulphur (Sulph.)Watery, burning nasal discharge, or a blocked nose, when outside. Frequent sneezing. Blocking of nose on alternate sides. Burning pain in eyes. Symptoms worsened by warmth and becoming warm in bed. Better for being in open air. May be lazy, opinionated, and desire sweets, alcohol, and spicy food.
Other helpful remedies but less commonly indicated remedies are:
Ambrosia artemisaefolia (Ambro.)Intolerable itching and watering from eyes. Burning of eyes. Sneezing and watery nasal discharge. Nose and head feel stuffy. Nose bleeds.Arum triphyllum (Arum-t .)Irritation or itching in the nose leading to boring, picking, rubbing. May pick at lips and face. Throat, mouth, tongue, and palate may burn, making it difficult to eat or drink despite having a thirst. People who need Arum-t may experience concurrent hoarseness and peeling or chapping of the lips.
Histaminum ( Hist.)Consider this remedy when either no other remedy seems accurate or if other remedies have been tried and haven’t worked.
Kali bichromicum ( Kali-bi.)Consider this remedy when thick, stringy, green or yellowish mucus from the nose or throat is present. There may also be a post-nasal or pain at the root of the nose relieved by hard pressure.
Sabadilla officinarum (Sabad.)Hay fever with frequent, spasmodic sneezing that exhausts the person. Sneezing from tickling inside the nose, and sneezing that causes the eyes to water. Profuse, watery nasal discharge and red and burning eyelid margins. Symptoms worse in the open air, better in a warm room. Dry mouth but little thirst.
Solidago ( Solid.)Burning, stinging eyes. Paroxysms of sneezing with mucus discharge from nose.One of the main remedies for people allergic to house dust mite.
Wyethia helenoides (Wye)Tremendous itching of the upper palate of the mouth causing the person to make “clucking” noises in effort to provide some relief. Itching of the nose and throat, along with a constant desire to swallow saliva to relieve the dryness may also be present.
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