Healing approaches

Spring fever: Tackling hay fever the homeopathic way

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath

As we move into spring, it is time for many of us to start thinking about how to protect ourselves against allergies, such as hay fever. On a year-by-year basis, we are seeing a consistent increase in allergic responses brought about by reactions to airborne irritants and/or certain foods.

Allergens can consist of virtually anything that provokes a hypersensitive reaction. They range from pollens and pollutants, such as exhaust fumes, to foods, mobile phones and even, in certain cases, the sun. Such reactions can be mild to life threatening, and everything in between.

The three most common substances that people react to are pollen, dairy and wheat. Although there is no proven connection, interestingly all three are originally grass products. It may be that some hay fever sufferers become sensitised to proteins that are common to grains, grasses, and possibly milk.

Dairy products encourage mucus production and, in certain situations, should be avoided. Similarly, many modern strains of processed wheat are high in gluten content, which can irritate the digestive tract and likewise stimulate mucus production.

Depending on how severe it is, the reaction to such substances will determine whether you are suffering an allergic response or simply experiencing an intolerance. But when a homeopath treats hay fever, there are two aspects they are trying to achieve:

  1. To treat the acute hay fever symptoms that are presenting immediately: Here the aim is to select a remedy that is most similar to the condition itself as homeopathic medicine produces the same symptoms as those experienced by the sick person and, in doing so, provokes the body into throwing those symptoms off. In other words, like is cured by like.
  2. To provide long-term constitutional treatment in order to remove the body’s tendency to over-react to substances that it should be able to deal with: Hay fever is a more complicated condition than it first appears. As a result, it can take someone two or three seasons to get rid of completely, with each season demonstrating less severe reactions and symptoms than the last.

Here is why: An over-reactive, or allergic, response is often a sign of a weakened and stressed immune and nervous system. To achieve healing in this instance, a homeopath needs to discover why the ‘broken down’ system is reacting in this way. Careful management of lifestyle and diet will support and improve weakened organs, thereby reducing over-reactive responses.

Most people think of the immune system as simply ‘strong’ or ‘weak’. But, in fact, it consists of many sections, and each section must work well with every other one. Organising how these immune responses work together is the job of a group of white blood cells called ‘lymphocytes’. These lymphocytes organise the fine workings of the sections within the immune system.

For people with allergies, one particular type of lymphocyte seems to play an important role – the T cell. These regulatory T cells limit inflammation by turning off unwanted immune responses that are the hallmark of an allergy. So rather than fearing the allergen, which may have been in the environment for many years, it makes more sense to strengthen the immune system to deal with it.

When the body suffers a ‘stress’ of some kind, it is normal to release histamine, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This ‘stress’ could come from the external environment or take the shape of a stressful thought or worry.

Histamine causes your capillary walls to become more permeable so that more antibodies and nutrients can reach the body to try and heal it. The result is local ‘inflammation’ and the involuntary smooth muscles (which are hollow and work unconsciously, such as the stomach, oesophagus and bronchus) contract to protect the body from invading pathogens or poisons. The result here might be either a cough or a build-up of sputum.

But in the case of an allergic reaction, the response is a lot more dramatic. The immune system goes into overdrive, causing other more severe reactions, such as extreme rhinitis, streaming eyes, sneezing and even asthmatic-type breathing issues, such as wheezing. This situation is essentially histamine gone wild and the usual medical treatment is to give the sufferer an anti-histamine tablet.

The problem is that such drugs tend to be overused, can cause nasty side effects and suppress the body’s ability to express itself. As a result, they are a nuisance to homeopaths as they mask an individual’s true allergic symptoms.

Root causes

Homeopaths are looking not only for the stresses around life circumstances that may have led to the attacks, but also the allergen concerned, and inherited traits. If a child presents with hay fever, there is often a family history of allergies and so the child could have been born with an inherited weakness.

Stress is also frequently behind the onset of many hay fever-based or allergic responses. This ‘stress’ may come in the form of fear, worry over exams or family matters, grief, anger, or even a recent illness, course of antibiotics, coming off the contraceptive pill or having a vaccine.

If there is nothing obvious, it can be helpful to explore an individual’s history to find out what has caused their constitution to behave in this way. A variety of forgotten situations could be the root cause, including negative or suppressed childhood ailments or traumas. The patient could also have an underlying infection, such as candida albicans, or a weakened digestive system, which allows pathogens to pass through and results in an inflammatory response. 

No matter how long ago these hidden situations took place, they will need to be addressed sooner or later as the body has a tissue memory. In other words, it finds ways to express these memories, and hay fever is one way of doing this.

This situation means that hay fever can take several years to tackle, with the symptoms becoming less severe each season as the remedies work through the historical causes mentioned. As part of the process, the body will reveal what needs to be treated through its symptom picture, and the homeopath matches these symptoms with the required ‘similum’ remedy.

But it is not always enough just to provide the appropriate remedy for that year’s symptoms, even if it does have the desired effect. The underlying ‘maintaining’ causes based on history and heredity also have a part to play, and it is they that make both seasonal and chronic hay-fever symptoms so complex to treat. This is why nutritional supplements are rarely sufficient on their own and why orthodox treatments simply offer relief at best and suppression at worst.

If you recognise the following symptoms during an acute hay fever episode, try taking the suggested remedy, in up to 10 doses. If they are not effective, change the remedy.

  • Allium 30c: Burning discharge from the nose and bland discharges from the eyes. Symptoms are worse indoors rather than outdoors. Light hurts the eyes, which are hot and itchy. The larynx also feels as if there are hooks sticking in it, which is made worse by warm food or drink.
  • Arsenicum albicans 30c: Your temperature is higher than normal and you feel utterly worn out but better in the warmth. Sniffing warm water up the nose gives relief from sneezing, but light hurts the eyes. There is wheezing and tightness in the lungs, a burning throat, restlessness and you are worrying a lot.
  • Arsenicum iod 30c: Thick, honey-coloured discharge from the nose, following three or four days of sneezing, sore nostrils and a burning sensation inside the nose. Warmth makes the symptoms worse. You also have a burning throat, an irritating cough, dry, scaly skin and feel worried and anxious.
  • Dulcamara 30c: Constant sneezing, stuffy or streaming nose, eyes swollen and watery. These symptoms are made worse by being outdoors or in a damp atmosphere. You may feel chilled after physical exertion.
  • Euphrasia 30c:Thick, burning discharge from the eyes, which are very swollen. There is a bland discharge from the nose, and you cough up phlegm. Symptoms are worse indoors.
  • Gelsemium 30c: Non-stop sneezing. Your eyes feel heavy and/or droopy, puffy and watery. You feel apathetic and listless and have no energy for anything. You may also feel dizzy and shaky.
  • Nux vomica 30c: Your body feels as if it is smarting, and you are very sensitive to light. Your nose is stuffy and tickly, although you sneeze less outside. You also have obstructed breathing and while your nose is blocked at night, it is runny during day. Other symptoms include itchiness inside your ears and eustatian tubes. You feel irritable and angry, want to drink coffee or alcohol, and have a headache that feels like a knife has been driven through you above the eyes.
  • Psorinum 30c: You are very sensitive to the cold and feel like you want to lie down. Your nose is streaming, but the discharge is bland or feels burning. You experience breathlessness, which is relieved by raising your arms away from the body. You also feel restless and hot at night, but in mood terms are generally low and melancholic.
  • Pulsatilla 30c: There is a bland yellow/green discharge from your nose and eyes, which gets better in the open air. You have no thirst, but feel weepy and need lots of support.
  • Sabadilla 30c: Symptoms include violent sneezing, watery eyes, red and swollen eyelids and a headache that feels as if your head is shrinking. Your thinking is slow and dull and you feel generally chilly, but your sore throat is soothed by warm drinks.
  • Silica 30c: Your nose is stuffed up, especially on waking in the morning, and your sinuses feel tender. You also feel generally chilly.

Foods that help

Eat at least nine servings of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day, choosing those which are high in folates, vitamin A and fibre. Folates from food are needed for cell repair and growth, immune and brain function. Brightly coloured fresh foods are high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting qualities – parsley and green tea are particularly high in these.

Dark green leafy vegetables and legumes, such as lentils and beans, as well as strawberries and grapes are other great sources. The Western diet often results in chronic inflammatory disorders as it typically contains about 1,000mg/day of flavonoids, whereas a traditional Asian diet contains four times that amount, much of it in the shape of herbs and spices.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of health care.

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Healing approaches

A beginners’ guide to crystal healing

Crystal Healer Offering Selection Of Tumbled Healing Stones

By Debbie Walmsley, crystal healer and reiki practitioner

Humans have worn and used crystals since time immemorial. In fact, crystals have been on the Earth since the beginning of time, long before we came to share it. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds have all been used as body decoration for thousands of years and have traditionally been highly valued due to their beauty and rarity.

But ancient cultures also believed crystals had a natural healing power that could be used to promote emotional, physical and spiritual balance. While we may never learn how they accessed such knowledge, we do know that crystals were considered an important part of their civilisation. For example:

  • Ancient Romans used crystal talismans and amulets to enhance health, attract desirable objects to themselves, and provide protection in battle;
  • Ancient Egyptians lay quartz on the forehead of their dead when they buried them, believing it helped to guide the departed safely into the afterlife. Pharaohs carried cylinders filled with quartz to balance the Ba and Ka energies of the body. Royal women laid crushed lapis lazuli stones on their eyes to promote enlightenment and awareness;
  • Ancient Greeks often rubbed crushed hematite on soldier’s bodies prior to entering battle as they believed it made them invincible. Interestingly, the word ‘crystal’ is thought to derive from the Greek word ‘krustullos,’ which means ‘ice’, and until the 1500s, many people believed stones, such as clear quartz, were everlasting ice that had been sent from the Heavens;
  • Chinese medicine practitioners commonly use healing crystals in their treatments, which include crystal-tipped needles in acupuncture and Pranic healing sessions. These traditions hail from nearly 5,000 years of practice;
  • Aryuvedic medicine practitioners in India consider crystals valuable for healing emotional and metaphysical imbalances. The use of various healing crystals is documented in the pages of the Hindu Vedas, which also refers to each stone’s specific healing properties. For example, sapphires are thought to bring astuteness, clarity and mental balance, while jasper is believed to bring harmony, sexual vitality, and balance the base chakra;
  • Ancient Japanese cultures commonly undertook scrying, which is similar to looking into a crystal ball as some psychics still do today. Crystal quartz spheres were considered to represent the heart of a dragon and signified their power and wisdom.

Today though, we also rely on crystals in lots of ways without even realising it. Much of our modern technology would not be able to operate without them. For instance:

  • Quartz crystals are used in computers to record time as well as in our fridges’ cooling systems. When an electric current is passed through a quartz crystal, it vibrates at 60 hertz (60 times per second), and quartz clocks uses these vibrations to measure time;
  • Liquid Crystal Displays are found in flat screen TV’s, digital clocks and electronic picture frames;
  • Silica crystals are used to absorb odours in everything from cat litter boxes to the insides of fridges;
  • Magnetite is used to find the North and South Poles;
  • Rubies are used in lasers;
  • Fluorite is used in fluoride toothpaste;
  • Hematite is used to make nails for construction purposes;
  • Chalcopyrite is used to create copper wires.

Young woman receiving crystal healing

How do crystals work?

So what exactly are crystals anyway and how do they work in a healing context? A crystal is an organised grouping of atoms, or molecules, each with different properties and shapes. For example, sugar crystals are oblong and slanted at each end, while salt crystals are cubic.

Each crystal’s unique structure affects how it resonates, the kind of energy it attracts, and the way it clears negativity by either repelling or absorbing it. These unique properties mean the crystal vibrates at specific frequencies, which give them their ability to aid in healing.

While most people are familiar with the different functions of their physical body, the same is not necessarily true of their body’s subtle energy systems. Seen from an energetic perspective, we are all made up of layers of vibrating energy, each of which has their own specific vibration and purpose.

The physical body though consists of energy that vibrates very slowly, which is why it appears to be solid. Compare this with ice, which is a solid structure made from water that is vibrating very slowly. This means that it likewise appears solid. But when its atoms vibrate more quickly, the ice becomes liquid again. Faster still and it turns to steam.

Quantum physics indicates that atoms consist purely of energy waves with their own invisible force field. These energy waves can be measured and their effects seen, but they are made up of electricity. Science is now embracing the idea that we, and the universe, are created out of this energy.

So crystal healing operates by working with the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Crystals are amazing energy conductors and, when used in healing, enable the body’s energy to move around in order to find its natural flow. When our energy is balanced, we experience wellbeing, which supports us in evolving and developing emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Crystals treat the whole person, as well as their integrated energy system, in a non-invasive way. The body’s meridians are the pathways through which our energy flows, and where these pathways cross, an energy ‘hotspot’, or chakra, is created.

Rainbow Flower of Life

Channelling universal life force energy

The chakras channel universal life force energy – which is known under a variety of names depending on the tradition, such as chi, prana, ki, or spirit – in and out of our physical and spiritual bodies. They are considered both transmitters and receivers of energy.

When these pathways are clear and open, we are physically and emotionally well and feel good. But when our meridians and/or chakras become blocked, we are likely to feel fatigue, sickness, pain or mental unbalance.

Chakras move in and out of balance naturally each and every day. Depending on what is happening around us, they respond to the highs and the lows of everyday life. Stress, minor illnesses, emotions and even your thoughts affect the balance of your chakras. If they stay out of balance for too long, your body will experiences dis-ease, which is a state of not benefiting from ease or wellbeing.

During a crystal healing session carefully chosen crystals are placed either on your chakras and/or around the physical body. These crystals absorb, focus, direct, detoxify, shift and diffuse energy as they interact with vibrations within the body’s energy field, helping to bring the mind, body, spirit and environment back into harmony and restoring the body’s natural rhythm and inner balance.

Healing using crystals can occur at various levels:

  • Physical: The deep relaxation generated is an effective antidote to stress, anxiety or depression, and is helpful in maintaining general wellbeing. It can help to relieve the physical symptoms of stress-related illnesses, provide pain relief by relaxing muscle tension and may assist with immune disorders. It has also been shown to be helpful for insomnia, chronic fatigue, raised blood pressure and sleep problems;
  • Emotional: It can help to stabilise moods and enhance self-esteem;
  • Mental: It may assist in providing clarity and enhancing focus and can be used to transform unwanted behaviours, thought patterns and addictions;
  • Spiritual: It can help to enable an acceptance of, and create harmony with, all aspects of being, leading to a more peaceful and centred life.

Wearing crystals may enable you to experience their healing and spiritual properties, while placing them in your home or office can help to clear negative energies or leave a room feeling more calm and relaxed. Crystals may also be used for meditation to help focus and clear the mind.

Some – although not all, so do exercise care – can even be used to create an elixir to drink. They work from the inside out, or can applied directly to the skin.

A key thing to remember though is that crystals work on a continual basis. Each balances specific elements, whether they relate to mind, body or spirit, so if you feel drawn to a particular stone, it is probably for a reason. Just pick it up, hold it or play with it and notice how you feel.

Put another way, crystal healing aids wellbeing, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. And wellbeing naturally comes about when our energy flows freely and is in balance.

Debbie Walmsley

Debbie Walmsley is a reiki practitioner, crystal healer, master hypnotherapist and Three Principles facilitator. She is also a member of the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists and the Complimentary Medical Association. Debbie has been a natural healer all her life, having first discovered the power of healing in her teenage years. She has studied various forms of energy healing, which included spending a month in Peru with a shaman.

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