A homoeopathic approach to hay fever

Homoeopathy may be used to treat hay fever, explains Dr Iain McLellan.

The idea of being able to use small doses of substances to produce a reactive effect within the body to cure conditions might appear nonsensical, especially when after numerous dilutions it would mean that not a single molecule of the substance would still remain within the preparation.

However, interest in homoeopathy is on the increase. In Scotland about a third of all GPs have had some teaching in homoeopathy, and although most of them might not practise it on any regular basis they do have a grounding knowledge.

Underlying principles

Homoeopathy involves taking a substance that will induce in a normal healthy patient the symptoms that the physician is trying to cure.

However, nowadays it has become very common practice for homoeopathy practitioners to look at the overall 'constitution' of the patient - being able to match this to similar constitutional traits within certain remedies.

This theory has, I feel, unnecessarily clouded the issue. Some homoeopaths will totally disagree with me.

Effective treatment

The hay fever season will start soon. Many patients affected will be well controlled by taking the latest antihistamines. However, homoeopathy is an alternative effective way of treating these patients.

Start by taking a history of how and when the patient experiences the hay fever: when it starts and stops, which months the patient is most affected by it, and if they know what might be the cause of their hay fever, for example pollens, grass, or seeds.

If the allergy is very specific arrange for the patient to have regular potencies (homoeopathic preparations). It is suggested that the patient starts taking these at the end of March and continues until August. The patient should take one 30C potency, which means a 30 x 100 dilution, on a weekly basis.

Quick consultations

Hay fever consultations will not take more than 10 minutes.

Remedies may be prescribed on a standard prescription form or can be bought if the patient pays for prescriptions.

I have practised homoeopathy in conjunction with conventional medicine for the past 25 years.

There are many conditions I would not consider treating homoeopathically, and we live in an age of guidelines and evidence-based medicine.

However, there are many things which as GPs we cannot treat successfully.

Homoeopathy is simply another arm of my therapeutic arsenal.

WHEN TO USE HOMOEOPATHY

The groups of patients who could possibly benefit from homoeopathy include:

- Patients who have poor control or side-effects from antihistamines.

- Children (under the age of 12) for whom the only available antihistamines are soporific.

- Patients who do not wish to take daily eye drops, nasal use antihistamines as a nasal spray for three to four months or whose compliance with such treatment has been poor.

- Patients who have specific identifiable allergies, for example, to grasses, or rapeseed.

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