Because homeopathy is so different from conventional medicine, it's important to understand its principles. The first law says "like cures like" meaning the substance used to treat the sick produces those same disease symptoms when given to a healthy person. For example, Allium cepa, or red onion, evokes red, watery eyes in someone who is well. Allium is ideal for someone with hay fever.
In classical homeopathy, the law of the single remedy says medicines be given one at a time based on current symptoms. Because the patient and disease are each seen as ever-changing, the remedy is altered as the symptom picture changes. Individual treatment requires careful documentation of physical symptoms, emotional and mental balance, food cravings and aversions, sleeping habits and other signs. These symptoms are then matched to one of over 2000 remedies at an appropriate dose.
Homeopathy to the Rescue
The best way to beat a recurring allergy is by using constitutional or long-term homeopathic treatment--best done with an experienced homeopathic practitioner. If that's not possible, you can turn to acute remedies, homeopathic medicines given in lower potencies. These remedies are given more frequently and are based on the symptoms of a specific condition rather than a person's overall health. Anyone can use acute remedies with a little bit of knowledge and a small stock of homeopathic medicines available from a health food store.
Unlike over-the-counter allergy drugs, acute remedies must fit your symptoms exactly. So pay attention to the color of your nasal discharge, the redness in your eyes, how tired you feel. If symptoms change, you should reassess your case and remedy.
While there's no scientific explanation of homeopathy, several studies during the last 10 years validate its success. Children suffering from frequent upper respiratory tract infections were the subjects of Dr. ESM de Lange de Klerk's study at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. The youngsters receiving homeopathic medicines were slightly better off than those administered fake pills, with fewer adenoidectomies, less antibiotics and more symptom-free days (British Medical Journal, 1994, vol 309).
Any positive results seen with homeopathic care is often explained away by critics as being a placebo-effect, a phenomenon where symptoms improve because a patient thinks he getting real medicine even though he's not. David Reilly at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital in Scotland set out to disprove the placebo theory. When he gave homeopathic preparations of mixed grass pollens to hay fever patients, symptoms greatly improved compared to the placebo group (The Lancet, 1986, vol ii(8512)).
If your match is very good, homeopathy can be as or more effective than conventional treatments, says Randall Bradley, ND a board certified homeopath from Omaha, Nebraska. "You need to think differently when using homeopathy and other natural treatments," says Bradley. "Conventional medicines try to eradicate symptoms. Natural medicine honors them because symptoms are the body's attempt to fight disease. Homeopathic remedies promote this healing process without side effects. That's why it's so important to match remedy symptoms to disease symptoms. The closer the match, the better a remedy works."
If you don't know what remedy to use for your allergies, try Allium cepa first, suggests Bradley, suitable for runny eyes and lots of clear, acrid nasal discharge. Euphrasia is good for watery, irritated eyes and a nose dripping bland secretions. For sneezing fits accompanied by red eyes, Bradley recommends Sabadilla. The more striking and unusual the symptoms, he says, the better acute homeopathy works.