IstockphotoSneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyesnagging allergy symptoms like these can put a damper on anyones enjoyment of springs tender beauty. And the treatments your traditional doctor may offer arent much less annoying than the symptoms: weekly desensitization injections, drugs, and nasal sprays laced with steroids.
I know this firsthand. Back before my days as a natural medicine writer, I was saddled with allergies that sent me from doctor to doctor in search of relief. After skin testing finally suggested I was sensitive to certain spring-flowering trees, I endured weekly allergy shots, took drugs that made me dopey, and still I suffered through the entire season.
Matters worsened when I moved from Manhattan to a house in the country. As much as I loved my new home, I was miserable for those lovely spring weeks when I should have been celebrating the beauty that surrounded me.
Homeopathy to the rescue
Then, thanks to an assignment to write about homeopathy, I experienced a dramatic cure that ended my allergies on the spot. Truly. Call it a placebo effect, call it mind over matter, call it whatever you want. The fact is that after one two-hour visit to a homeopath, I was cured of my spring allergy symptoms. Now, years later, Im still symptom-free.
When I got the assignment to write about this 200-year-old medical practice that defies credulity, I decided to pit homeopathy against my stubborn allergy symptoms. I found Joyce Frye, DO, an osteopath trained in homeopathy. At the time I saw her, Dr. Frye was practicing in Philadelphia; she has since joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine integrative medicine staff.
Homeopathy didnt make much sense to me. In fact, it sounded completely wacky. Homeopathic remedies are made from plant, animal, and mineral sources, diluted to such an extent that not even a molecule of the original substance may still remain. The theory is that by ingesting minute amounts of a substance that would normally cause symptoms (such as an allergic reaction) in a healthy person, you can trigger some kind of healing response, instead.
I didnt expect homeopathy to work on my allergies, but since it seemed safe enough to try, I gave it a shot in the interest of research.
Next Page: Fear of spiders + breast cancer = allergy cure? [ pagebreak ]My visit to Dr. Frye was typical of a visit to a classical homeopath. She interviewed me at length (it felt like therapy), excavated my medical and psychological history, and noted my symptoms, both physical and emotional. Then, she figured out which of the hundreds of homeopathic remedies best matched my “symptom profile.”
My consultation lasted about two hours. After learning that Im positively phobic about spiders and that my mother had breast cancer, Dr. Frye matched my symptoms to a rare remedy used to treat arachnophobia. (The connection between spiders and breast cancer? Because, Dr. Frye told me, cancer cells are often configured in a spider-like formation.)
Just one little white pill of Carcinosinum Burnett, which is diluted from actual cancer cells, did the trick. Soon, I was free of clogged sinuses, headaches, and other symptomsand I still am, years later. I cant tell you why or how it workedbut it did. Really. To learn more about homeopathy, or to find a qualified practitioner, visit Homeopathic.org.
Seven more tips from a naturopath
Paul S. Anderson, ND, a member of the core faculty at Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash., is a naturopathic physician who tells me that seven natural strategiesin addition to homeopathycan help you defeat spring allergies:
- Wash your hands and face after being outside to remove pollen.
- Consider getting pollen-specific air filters, especially for the bedroom.
- Use saline nasal sprays, which help remove pollen from the nasal passages. A good one to try is Breathe Again; you can find it at drug stores.
- Or, get a neti pot, a little Aladdins lamp–shaped device that holds salt water, which you inhale through your nose. Its similar in principal to using a saline nasal rinse, but it reaches deeper to more completely clear pollen from nasal passages.
- Cook with ginger or take a daily ginger supplement to help reduce inflammation. A yummy way to take ginger: add a spoonful or two of New Chapters Ginger Honey Tonic (available at most health food stores) to club soda. Or, nibble on a couple of cubes of crystallized ginger.
- Take 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C three times a day with each meal during the allergy season (reduce the amount if it gives you the runs, Anderson suggests), along with 400 IU of vitamin E. Vitamin C helps decrease the circulating inflammatory free radicals which increase during allergy season, and vitamin E supports the Vitamin C functions, says Anderson.
- Take 500 to 1,000 mg of the bioflavonoid, Quercetin, three times a day with meals during the allergy season to slow the bodys release of histamine, which Anderson says is the cause of many allergy symptoms.