by Todd A. Hoover, MD, DHt
Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to airborne particles (allergens) that primarily affect the nose and eyes. There are two types of allergic rhinitis: seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and perennial allergic rhinitis, which occurs year-round. Outdoor allergens such as pollen cause hay fever and indoor allergens such as dust or animal dander cause perennial allergic rhinitis.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, irritation of the eyes, sore throat, post-nasal drip, cough, headache, fatigue and dark circles under the eyes. At least 35.9 million people in the United States have seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever)1, accounting for approximately 14.1 million visits to physician offices each year.2 In 1996, the overall costs of allergic rhinitis in the United States totaled $6 billion.3
Homeopathic treatment of allergic rhinitis has been well documented in scientific research. A study by Taylor et al, published in the British Medical Journal in 2000 showed a statistically significant improvement in objectively measured nasal air flow for patients treated with homeopathy compared to placebo.4 Taylor and colleagues have completed a total of 4 studies looking at the effectiveness of homeopathy for allergic rhinitis treatment. A meta-analysis review of these and other studies by Jonas et al. for the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that these studies were high-quality, double-blind, placebo controlled trials significantly better than placebo on both subjective (reported) and objective (measurable) outcomes.5
Studies testing individual homeopathic remedies for allergic rhinitis include Wiesenauer's 8 randomized controlled trials of Galphimia for pollinosis which were reported to show significantly more effectiveness of Galphimia than placebo when reviewed in a meta-analysis by Linde in 2001.6,7 Similarly, Nobel published a placebo controlled randomized trial of Zicam in 2000 that showed a statistically significant better result for the homeopathic treatment when compared to placebo.8
The effect of homeopathic treatment has been demonstrated through repeated controlled trials. While homeopathic remedies were used in all of these trials, in some cases "isopathic" types of homeopathy (medicines made from the allergens) were used.
Allergic rhinitis involves over-responsiveness of the immune system, and is therefore not limited to a local problem with the nose, but a system issue. Homeopathic treatment of allergies is best carried out by an experienced clinician. As with any other medical condition, homeopathic medicine is not used to treat diseases but to treat patients; any successful, long term, treatment will likely require a complete medical history, evaluation and determination of the particular "constitutional" medicine, suited for the patient, and provided by a clinician specialized in homeopathic treatment.
This Article was written for placement on the American Institute of Homeopathy Website. The AIH is the oldest extant United States Medical Society. Established in 1844, the AIH is comprised of Physicians and Dentists and other allied health care providers that incorporate homeopathic medicine as a modality in their practice. Dr. Hoover is the current president of the AIH from 2009-2012. Further information is available online at the AIH website: www.homeopathyusa.org.
- Natahn, R.A., Meltzer, E.O., Selner, J.C., Storms, W. "Prevalence of Allergic Rhinitis in the United States." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (1997) 99:S808-14.
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey; 2002 Summary, table 13.
- Ray, N.F., Baraniuk, J.N., Thamer, M., et al: Healthcare expenditures for sinusitis in 1996: contributions or asthma, rhinitis and other airway disorders. J. of Allergy Clin. Immunology, 103 (3 Pt 1): 408-514, 1999.
- Taylor, M. A., Reilly, D., et al: Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial series. BMJ, 321: 471-476, 2000.
- Jonas, W.B. et al: A Critical Overview of Homeopathy, Annals of Internal Medicine, 138:5, 393-400, 2003.
- Wiesenauer M, Lüdtke R: A meta-analysis of the homeopathic treatment of pollinosis with Galphimia glauca, Forsch Komplementärmed, 3:230-236, 1996.
- Linde, K. et al, Systematic reviews of complementary therapies - an annotated bibliography. Part 3: Homeopathy, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1:4, 2001.
- Sion Nobel: Daily Application Of The Homeopathic Remedy Zicam Allergy Relief Significantly Improves The Quality Of Life And Impairment In Patients With Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis: The Internet Journal of Family Practice. 1:1, 2000.