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Isopathic Treatment of Rhinitis

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 62 - March 2001

Rhinitis is a miserable condition, the significance of which is often underestimated by non-sufferers. Having continuous sneezing, or a permanently blocked or itchy nose, is at least a nuisance and, at worst, a source of discomfort and distraction to the sufferer. It is usually caused by some form of allergy, most commonly to house dust and the house dust mite. Seasonal rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is an allergic response to various pollens and spores and has similar symptoms to the perennial form, but occurring only during the appropriate pollen or spore season.

Conventional treatment of rhinitis consists of antihistamines, decongestants or corticosteroid nasal sprays. All these treatments can alleviate symptoms but have a variety of side effects. All of these treatments need to be taken continuously in order to work and, to many patients, this is an unattractive prospect. Few people like taking medicines all the time – there seems to be an intuitive anxiety about dependence or long-term harm, which is often borne out, eventually, by further study of side effects and complications.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, offers a treatment for these kinds of allergic phenomena, which consists of short courses of medication, each course being effective for a number of days, weeks or even months and needing to be repeated only when required, i.e. when the symptoms recur.

A typical story is that of Alun, a sixteen-year-old lad with troublesome symptoms that were so bothersome that his studies were being adversely affected. He had a chronic tendency to nasal obstruction, which was worse after any viral infection and which led to horrible headaches at the front of the head above the eyes. The blocked nose was particularly marked in the mornings, with bouts of sneezing but little discharge.

Apart from this symptom, Alun was fairly well. He had always been a bit on the thin side, despite eating like the proverbial horse. He had a pale, thin face and a tendency to slow-to-heal acne. The spots took ages to come to a head and then resolved with slight scarring. Despite his excellent appetite, Alun had a tendency to constipation and caused consternation in the family by occupying the bathroom for ages when opening his bowels. Finally, Alun had a definite 'sock problem'. His smelly, sweaty feet were legendary in his family and with his classmates and he was noted for leaving damp footprints across the kitchen floor if he did not wear his slippers.

In his character, Alun's chief characteristic was obstinacy – his mother described his determination as a little boy to carry out any plan that he had come up with. He had a tendency to be shy with strangers but interacted well once he got to know people. He was also a bit of a worrier and could get terribly anxious about his examinations. However, once he got going, he did very well, more as a result of hard work than of brilliance.

I felt that Alun was probably of a Silica constitution, in view of his character and physical traits. Silica people often suffer from frontal sinusitis as a result of viral infections or allergy, with the typical headache above and between the eyes. Furthermore, Silica can be used for these symptoms even if the patient is not fundamentally a Silica. Interestingly, Alun had an almost magical response to a single dose of Silica 30c with an almost immediate clearing of his head and nasal passages, which lasted for about 48 hours.

Sadly, however, this response was not repeated despite repetition of the dose and changes of potency. This situation is known as 'a well indicated remedy failing to hold' the situation and is usually the prompt for the homeopath to try an alternative approach.

In Alun's case, I decided to use isopathy. Isopathy is the use of the actual allergy-causing agent, diluted homeopathically, and given in such a way as to desensitize the patient. The principle involved is similar to that of the allergy injections that used to be given by conventional doctors to counteract hay fever. These were withdrawn because of the risk of anaphylactic shock and death as a result of the injections. There is no risk of anaphylaxis when using homeopathic potencies of 30c or above as there are no actual molecules of the substance left to trigger the anaphylaxis. However, there is sometimes a temporary worsening of the original allergic symptoms before improvement sets in – a so-called 'aggravation'. This is quite different from anaphylaxis and not life threatening.

The actual procedure for Alun was to take one House Dust Mite 30c tablet twice daily for three days (a total of six tablets). After this short course, Alun's rhinitis and headaches improved tremendously, and the improvement lasted for over two weeks. He then repeated the course with the improvement lasting this time over a month. He has remained well for over a year now, needing occasional repeat courses every few months. This is certainly less onerous than having to take antihistamines and/or nasal sprays continuously and he and his family are very happy with the result.

The same principle of treatment can be employed for treatment of other allergies such as hay fever due to tree pollen or grass pollen, or due to fungal spores (Alternaria), which cause a hayfever-like picture in the autumn. The individual tree pollens are available, if you know which tree is the culprit (silver birch is particularly common). So are some of the grasses (e.g. Timothy grass). While I was training in homeopathy, I heard of a case of a man who was very keen on woodwork but who had had to give up because every time he went to his workshop he developed terrible sneezing and itching eyes. He was cured of his allergy by having a remedy specially made up for him from the dust swept up from the workshop. Presumably, he had become sensitive to one of the woods that he had used, and the homeopathic desensitization addressed the problem perfectly.

Finally, in these days of 'evidence-based medicine', isopathy is one of the few homeopathic methods that have been subjected to exhaustive medical research techniques. Dr David Reilly and his team at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital have published a series of trials in reputable journals, like the British Medical Journal and The Lancet, showing that isopathy is superior to placebo in randomized controlled trials of asthma and rhinitis treatment, which must make it worth considering if you are an allergy sufferer.

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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