Hay fever, allergies, rhinitis. Whatever you call it, seasonal allergies can make you miserable. The sneezing; the itchy, watery eyes; the congestion-it can leave you positively exhausted! And, depending on where you live, symptoms can begin in March and last all the way through November.
The problem is that over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines and decongestants offer only temporary relief at best. At worst, they can trigger worrisome side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and headache. For true relief, it's important to work with the body's own healing capacity.
Homeopathy is a safe, effective system of natural healing that is based on the principal that "like cures like." This means that if a substance can cause symptoms of a disease in a healthy person, then miniscule amounts of that substance can cure a sick person suffering from similar symptoms. When it comes to allergic rhinitis, "homeopathic treatment boosts a person's immune system and eliminates their propensity for hay fever and allergies," says homeopath Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom (NA).
Gahles often helps patients suffering from seasonal allergies either in her New York-based office or via TeleHouseCalls, a phone-based and online consultation program that is part of Health and Harmony Wellness Education. "Spring brings a steady stream of patients into my office complaining of ‘hay fever,'" she says. "While it may take several seasons to achieve, I have seen many patients whose lifelong hay fever tendencies have been greatly reduced or eliminated (with homeopathy)." Her favorite homeopathic remedies for seasonal allergies include:
- Allium cepa is a homeopathic medicine prepared from red onion. It may be the one most used for springtime allergies. Indications include watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing. Nasal discharge may burn, causing a raw redness under the nose and above the upper lip. Hoarseness and tickling of the throat may be present with a hacking cough.
- Euphrasia has an affinity for the mucous membranes of the eyes, and hay fever sufferers who need this remedy have prominent eye symptoms. Their tears and eye discharges are burning, but any nasal discharge is bland (which is the opposite of Allium cepa).
- Sabadilla is prescribed for people with hay fever, especially if they have violent sneezing episodes with a runny, stuffy, itchy, and/or tingly nose. Those needing Sabadilla often have severe headaches with cold sweat on the forehead, bursting pain above the eyes, and watering, tearing, red, or burning eyes.
- Wyethia is called for when the roof of the mouth and throat (soft palate) itch intensely. A constant need to clear the throat is also common. Gahles points out that Wyethia, which is a prophylactic for hay fever-especially in those with a predisposition for congestion that moves into the chest-is indicated more often for allergies that occur in autumn.
Homeopathic remedies come in a variety of forms including pellets, tablets, liquid, ointments, and suppositories. Pellets are the most popular form and are taken sublingually (under the tongue) because the large number of capillaries in the mouth allow for faster absorption into the blood- stream. Since these remedies are highly diluted, they are extremely safe.
No. 1 Herbal Antihistamine
Many natural medicine practitioners recommend stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), or nettle leaf, for allergy symptoms. Research points to the anti-inflammatory properties of nettle, and studies show that it produces an antiallergy effect. One study found that nettle leaf acts against the histamine-1 receptor and inhibits the inflammation-causing enzymes COX-1 and COX-2.
Nettle's benefits are likely due to its bioflavonoid and polysaccharide content. In order to retain these constituents, nettle leaf must be processed carefully, so look for a high-quality encapsulated product that has been freeze-dried or specially processed to retain the active compounds. This special processing costs more, so don't be seduced by cheap imitations.
Use nettle like you would an antihistamine drug for acute attacks. Many people take up to 3,000 mg per day of nettle leaf capsules to relieve hay fever reactions. Symptoms often begin to improve within 15 minutes, and the effect typically lasts for about four hours.
Boiron Sabadil is a popular natural allergy relief formula that has six homeopathic remedies, including sabadilla.
Eclectic Institute RAW Fresh Freeze-Dried NETTLE contains fresh stinging nettle that has been freeze-dried for optimum potency.
Dr. King's Natural Medicine Allergy & Hay Fever Reliever contains Allium cepa and other remedies.