For many people Hayfever is a minor inconvenience, for others it causes untold misery as they snuffle, sneeze and itch their way through the Spring, Summer and Autumn, swallowing antihistamine tablets, putting drops into their eyes and noses, using boxes and boxes of tissues as they try to stem the flow. There is a strong possibility that you are a sufferer as this condition affects about one person in four of the population of Europe and is probably the most common allergic condition in the developed world.
The aim of the therapy is twofold - reduction of the severity of your allergy by reducing your sensitivity to pollen and help with the relief of symptoms until the desensitisation has had a chance to work.
Therapy is carried out over a period of two seasons. Patients usually experience a great deal of improvement the first season and may expect to be symptom free the second. Ideally, the therapy should begin at the end of January or the beginning of February each year. Most people however don’t begin to think about hayfever until they experience the first symptoms. It is not too late to start even when the pollen count is high.
Hayfever is the name for a collection of symptoms which are caused by breathing in plant pollens from the atmosphere and not surprisingly gets worse when flowers open, the air is dry, and more pollen is present. It may disappear completely in the Winter, or may linger as a result of other inhaled air pollutants. The hayfever season can start as early as February when some trees release pollen, spring flowers follow a few weeks later and then the grasses start to mature as Summer approaches. Cutting grass releases an acidic vapour which can contribute to the problem, and for many sufferers, rape - the fields of yellow that we see increasingly in the countryside these days – is the worst pollen of all. When pollen is inhaled, the body is protected by its immune system which forms antibodies – special proteins in the blood stream which attach themselves to the pollen grains and render them harmless. Some people, however, become oversensitised and antibody production becomes so high that the mucous membrane – the soft tissue that lines the nose, mouth, throat and eyes and lungs becomes inflamed and irritated. The symptoms produced are running nose and eyes, sneezing, itching nose, eyes and palate and wheezing of the chest.
Orthodox medical treatment usually consists of giving antihistamine to counteract the action of the histamine and other chemicals that the body releases which cause the inflammation, or sodium cromoglycate a drug which is designed to prevent the release of these chemicals. In the past vaccines have been used to attempt to desensitise the body to the effects of the various pollens with rather variable results and often extremely serious side-effects. The use of these vaccines, which were given by injection, is now mainly discontinued.
The major stress-relieving therapies, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, reflexology, massage, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, osteopathy, chiropractic and others can all provide an element of relief in hayfever. Homoeopathy of course treats the whole person over a period of time but is also very effective as a first aid.
Developed from the basic principles and techniques of classical homoeopathy, and certainly one of the most effective alternative therapies for the treatment of allergic conditions, is the desensitisation system used by Members of the British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy. The techniques have been developed at the Institute over the last 20 or more years using desensitising remedies that are taken by mouth, thus avoiding the potential side effects of desensitisation by injection. The remedies can be used safely not only by adults but also for children and infants. The process for treating hayfever is simple, with just one remedy for plant pollens and one for grass pollens. For those whose symptoms start early in the year there is an additional remedy for tree pollens.
A study at the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital achieved an 87% success rate in dealing with hayfever in this way. The remedies may be used successfully during the hayfever season and give much relief, but typically, it is found to be most satisfactory if the desensitisation programme starts in late winter before the pollens are released, when much improvement is found the first season. The process may be then repeated the following year to ensure that the best results are obtained. It is often found that in hayfever there are complicating allergies, such as traffic fumes, chemical vapours in the atmosphere and food intolerances and the therapy may be even more successful if these are dealt with in addition to the pollen allergies. We also encourage sufferers to deal with stresses in their lives that can play a part in the condition