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Allergic Rhinitis and Isopathic Remedies

Read more about Isopathic Remedies.

Overview

A special form of homeopathy known as isopathy is often used for allergic rhinitis. Isopathy makes use of the precise substance that causes your symptoms, diluting the allergen to make a homeopathic remedy. For example, if you are allergic to cats, you could make a homeopathic remedy out of cat dander; if to ragweed, diluted ragweed pollen would be an appropriate isopathic remedy. This is different from standard homeopathic remedies, which are based on unrelated substances that happen to produce a similar symptom picture.

Several well-designed double-blind, placebo-controlled studies testing the efficacy of isopathic remedies for various allergy symptoms have been reported, most of them conducted by one highly respected research group.

Effect of Isopathic Remedies on Allergic Rhinitis

Isopathy is a special branch of homeopathy that makes use of the precise substance that causes your symptoms, diluting the allergen to make a homeopathic remedy. This may sound the same as the approach behind allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), and enzyme potentiated desensitization (EPD), but that is not the case. Homeopathic remedies do not work in such a direct or obvious way.

Research Evidence on Isopathic Remedies

Several well-designed double-blind, placebo-controlled studies testing the efficacy of isopathic remedies for various allergy symptoms have been reported, most of them conducted by one highly respected research group.

Two such studies by this group tested the effects of a combination isopathic preparation consisting of mixed grass pollens at a 30c potency on almost 200 people with active hay fever.1,2 Overall, the results were quite positive. Homeopathic treatment, as compared to placebo, produced a clear and measurable reduction in hay fever symptoms over a 2-week period of treatment. In addition, improvement of the treated participants continued even after they stopped taking the medicine.

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial by the same research group used isopathic remedies made from allergens specific to each participant.3 All 50 participants suffered from perennial allergic rhinitis. Again, the results were positive. Furthermore, benefits were seen regarding allergic asthma in a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using an isopathic remedy made from allergens specific to the participants.4

More than a decade before the studies described above, another group of scientists had also studied isopathic remedies for hay fever–like symptoms, and they too found positive results.5 In 2005, similar benefits were seen in a study conducted by yet another research group.14 This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial used isopathic remedies made from common Southwest allergens, including tree, grass and weed species. Once again, the results showed reductions in allergy symptoms in the treatment group as compared to the placebo group.

However, there have been negative outcomes as well. Two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies performed by a single research group evaluated the effects of an isopathic remedy made from birch pollen on people with allergies to that plant, but no benefits were seen.6,7 In addition, a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 242 people with asthma caused by dust-mite allergy failed to find any benefit with an isopathic remedy made from the mites.8

How to Use Isopathic Remedies

In contrast to classical homeopathy, isopathy makes use of the precise substance that causes your symptoms, diluting the allergen to make a homeopathic remedy.

In the US, over-the-counter homeopathic remedies are available in pharmacies and healthfood stores. Unlike herbs and supplements, manufacturers of homeopathic products are allowed to make strong healing claims on the labels, in part because one of the founders of the organization that became the Food and Drug Administration, Senator Royal Copeland, was a homeopathic physician. He made sure that homeopathic medicines were given a specially protected status.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

Constitutional (or classical) homeopathy is a holistic art that looks at the symptom picture of a person, including psychological, emotional, physical, and hereditary information, and tries to choose an appropriate remedy. Recently, however, a simplified form of homeopathy has developed, disease-oriented (or symptomatic) homeopathy, in which remedies are given based solely on specific diseases. Both types of homeopathy have been studied scientifically, although disease-oriented homeopathy has received more attention for the simple reason that it is easier to study.

Homeopaths, sometimes called homeopathic physicians, practice homeopathy. Homeopathic support is also available from health professionals, such as naturopathic doctors, who use homeopathy as part of their broader medical practice.

Side Effects and Warnings

Homeopathic remedies are, by nature, completely nontoxic.

However, according to the principles of classical (or constitutional) homeopathy, versus disease-oriented (or symptomatic) homeopathy, these remedies can cause problems. On the way toward a cure, temporary exacerbation of symptoms are said to occur frequently. Such “homeopathic aggravations” are supposed to indicate a release of underlying problems, and are therefore seen as ultimately helpful, if temporarily unpleasant. However, there is no meaningful scientific evidence that such aggravations take place at any higher rate than could be accounted for by chance (and patient’s expectation).

References

  1. Reilly DT, Taylor MA. Potent placebo or potency? Br Homeopath J. 1985;74:65–75.
  2. Reilly DT, Taylor MA, McSharry C, et al. Is homoeopathy a placebo response? Controlled trial of homoeopathic potency, with pollen in hayfever as model. Lancet. 1986;2:881–886.
  3. Taylor MA, Reilly D, Llewellyn-Jones RH, et al. Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial series. BMJ. 2000;321:471–476.
  4. Reilly D, Taylor MA, Beattie NGM, et al. Is evidence for homoeopathy reproducible?. Lancet. 1994;344:1601– 1606.
  5. Hardy J. A double blind, placebo controlled trial of house dust potencies in the treatment of house dust allergies. Br Hom Res Group Comm. 1984;11:75–76.
  6. Aabel S, Laerum E, Dolvik S, et al. Is homeopathic 'immunotherapy' effective? A double-blind, placebo- controlled trial with the isopathic remedy Betula 30c for patients with birch pollen allergy. Br Homeopath J. 2000;89:161–168.
  7. Aabel S. No beneficial effect of isopathic prophylactic treatment for birch pollen allergy during a low-pollen season: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of homeopathic Betula 30c. Br Homeopath J. 2000;89:169– 173.
  8. Lewith GT, Watkins AD, Hyland ME, et al. Use of ultramolecular potencies of allergen to treat asthmatic peopleallergic to house dust mite: double blinded randomized controlled clinical trial. BMJ. 2002;324:520–523.
  9. Kim LS, Riedlinger JE, Baldwin CM, et al. Treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis using homeopathic preparation of common allergens in the Southwest region of the US: a randomized, controlled clinical trial (April). Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Mar 1 [Epub ahead of print]

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