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Homeopathic treatment of allergies.

Homeopath and author Dana Ullman, MPH, and Michael Frass, MD, a professor of medicine at Medical University of Vienna (Austria), wrote a 2010 review of homeopathic research that targeted respiratory allergies. The authors explain the difference between three types of homeopathic allergy treatment: classic, isopathic, and constitutional. Classic homeopathic practice prescribes a remedy that most closely matches an individual's acute symptoms. For example, allergy sufferers with profuse, burning, runny nasal discharge, reddened eyes, nonburning tearing, and violent sneezing would take Allium cepa (onion), while someone whose nasal discharge has the consistency of egg whites along with a hammering frontal headache and salt craving would take Natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride).

Isopathic homeopathy, like conventional allergy desensitization treatments, uses small doses of actual allergens to treat allergy sufferers. Those with a dust mite allergy, for example, would take a homeopathic dilution containing the energetic signature of the dust mite. Homeopathic doses are much smaller than those used in conventional allergy treatment - so small, in fact, that critics have claimed that any results must be due to placebo effect.

The third homeopathic option is the constitutional remedy, which requires the help of a classically trained homeopath. The homeopath takes a thorough history of the individual's physical and psychological acute and chronic patterns and symptoms to choose a matching constitutional remedy. Classical homeopaths believe that a correctly chosen constitutional remedy will move the body toward healing both chronic ailments and acute complaints, such as allergic reactions. Unlike the other two types of homeopathy, constitutional homeopathy's effect on respiratory allergies has not been evaluated in clinical trials. Constitutional homeopathic treatment tends to be more subtle and take longer than acute or isopathic homeopathy.

Ullman and Frass discuss several studies, reviews, and meta-analyses that evaluate homeopathic treatment of allergies. A 1986 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled Lancet study, led by D.T. Reilly, tested the ability of homeopathic doses of mixed grass pollens (30C potency) to alleviate hay fever symptoms. All 144 hay fever patients were given a placebo during their first week. Then, about half were given the homeopathic preparation while the rest continued to take the placebo. By the end of the five-week study, "The mean change in [visual analogue scale] symptom score from baseline to the end of the trial in homeopathy subjects was significant compared to those in the placebo group (p = 0.0004)." In addition, 16 of 47 in the homeopathy group compared with 9 of 45 in the placebo group had discontinued antihistamine drug use. "The mean number of antihistamine tablets taken by placebo subjects at the end of the trial was double that of the homeopathy group (p = 0.03)," according to Ullman and Frass.

Unlike the preceding isopathic study, a 2002 retrospective Israeli study looked at individualized homeopathic treatment for respiratory allergies. Again, homeopathic use led to a reduced use of conventional allergy medications (antihistamines, steroids, and decongestants). The researchers analyzed patient data from an alternative health clinic affiliated with a health maintenance organization. They looked at drug usage three months before homeopathic treatment and three months after and found that" ... 27 of 31 patients who used conventional allergy medications ... reduced usage of these drugs after homeopathic treatment; two patients experienced an increase in drug usage, and two showed no change. Patients used an average of 3.1 medications before homeopathic treatment and 1.6 after (p = 0.001)."

Ullman and Frass urge practitioners who are not trained in classical homeopathy to consider isopathic homeopathic treatment as an option for their patients with respiratory allergies. They suggest using conventional allergy testing to uncover a patient's primary allergen and have a homeopathic pharmacy prepare a homeopathic medicine with the allergen at 30C potency. The patient can take the remedy, as needed, every month. "Select homeopathic pharmacies can [also] provide homeopathic combinations of mixed pollen, mixed grasses, and mixed molds," Ullman and Frass explain. Some patients with hay fever also obtain symptom relief with the homeopathic Galphimia glauca (4X or 6X potency).

Ullman D, Frass M. A review of homeopathic research in the treatment of respiratory allergies. Alt Med Rev. 2010:15(1). Available at CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Accessed November 30, 2011.
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Title Annotation:Shorts
Author:Klotter, Jule
Publication:Townsend Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2012
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