Of all the natural transformations we witness around us, I am enamored by spring the most. Spring is the embodiment of transformation, not just transition from cold to warm weather. We witness renewal in spirit and rebirth in life of all life forms.
This transition, though welcomed by one and all can be a bit challenging for some of us. The rejuvenation of plant life means release of spores and pollens, which translates to spring-time allergies!
This was the case of Allison, a 27 year old who has battled hay fever since she was in elementary school and it has only worsened with each passing year. Allison had seen a gamut of allergy specialists, ENTs and even underwent allergen immunotherapy treatments. They all afforded temporary relief or stopped working after some time.
Suppression in lieu of Transformation:
The conventional approach to treat Allison’s symptoms would be to treat her symptomatically for allergic rhinitis, nasal congestion, watery and itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing by prescribing anithistaminics, nasal decongestants, nasal steroid sprays or oral steroids and decongestants. All of which merely suppress the body’s immune-response and thereby afford temporary relief of symptoms. Allergy shots seemed quite promising initially but she started developing systemic reactions in the form of unbearable hives and difficulty breathing when lying down. This meant she had to take more anti-histamines prior to taking her allergy shots and she (her immune system) was quite overwhelmed by this point. None of these treatment options promised her a permanent cure.
Allergies are more prevalent today than they were just a few decades ago. There are various theories to explain this trend. Too sterile environment, too early and frequent use of anti-inflammatories and antibiotics, more GMO foods in the food chain, increase in pollution, climate change that has upticked pollen production and release in plants, etc.. But I like the idea that the development of allergic symptoms is an indication of a disruption of our healthy borders– first a loss of border that allows allergens too far in, and then a pushing out of our border, too far out. Antihistamines and steroids reduce the inflammatory symptoms, but they do not heal our protective borders. So, it is useful to look at two extremes of border imbalance.
When an allergen crosses/ oversteps the protective barriers of our skin, the lining of our nose, mouth, lungs or intestines, this is the first step of allergic response- something foreign has penetrated us too far in. We are exposed to foreign particles all the time through inhalation, ingestion, absorption and exposure. But when something comes into the body and cannot be transformed, it is recognized as foreign and the body feels assaulted. The first gesture of allergy then, is that something comes into us, but too far. Why do things come in too far? Sometimes it is simply related to the overwhelming amount of substance (smoke from a forest fire, pollen from a flowering tree, grass or weed), and it’s true that we have an incredible number of things coming towards us all the time which we should protect against (pollutants in the air, additives in food, chemicals in things we work with). But there are also an equally incredible number of things competing for our attention which we are supposed to pay attention to all the time (noises, traffic, schedules, email). And that modern combination seems to confuse our healthy experience of boundary.
True Cellular Transformation:
So a first step in addressing allergies (seasonal, environmental, sensory) is to strengthen our experience of self and outside, our boundary. This can be done through using medicines that contain Silica (quartz), as well as preparations of certain citrus fruits (most especially lemon and quince). And by trying to reduce the number of things we are exposing ourselves to, which can include things like nasal saline rinses or allergy-elimination diets.
The second step of allergy is the reaction against what is foreign, and this process is what we usually experience as allergy symptoms. The immune system meets, then tries to break down and eliminate what does not belong in the body. But as mentioned earlier, we do not allow our immune system to do this by itself and we quickly reach out for that Reactine thereby routinely suppressing inflammatory processes in the body and add to this a rich cocktail of antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories, anti-pyretics which simply hamper the body’s own ability to meet and transform what it encounters as outside substance. In some ways our immune system needs the practice, to be better able to determine what is inside and what is outside.
As with all cases, I took a detailed history delving deeper into her mother’s state of mind when she was pregnant with Allison (provides insight on embryonic stress and response patterns), her family medical history (provides information on her genetic predisposition), her past medical history (helps determine her immune system responses) and her psychological/ trait assessment (since no two individuals are alike, their remedy should not be a standard one size fits all solution either!). And low and behold we found boundary issues- with siblings, workplace, with her partner. She was a strong and self sufficient woman, very sure of her opinions, but would shy away from conflicts. Always chose to internalize her true feelings to maintain a façade of peace- a status quo of sorts which kept everyone around her in a delicate balance of power struggle happy, irrespective of her own emotional outcome. During times of stress her constipation would worsen. She would not have a bowel movement for up to 5 days and definitely not a single one during her periods. She responded well to her constitutional remedy Silicea which resolved her constipation (which she had since she was a bottle-fed infant!) but we discovered there was a need of another boost- a gentle drainage, so to speak of the congested sinus tissues and upper airway. Enter Ribes nigrum and Viburnum lantana.
These plant extracts are gemmotherapeutic extracts prepared from embryonic tissues of plants. Basically, plant buds and shoots before they bloom. Another product of spring and rejuvenation! A Gemmotherapy tincture like Ribes Nigrum helps with the inflammation process by reducing swollen tissue. Viburnum Lantana helps with respiratory drainage. These under the umbrella of her constitutional remedy Silicea (given in 200C, 1M, 10M and 50M over a period of 14 months till date) helped relieve not just her allergy symptoms by more than 75% in one allergy season, but also helped her manage her stress better and be at ease with her surroundings- on the physical as well as emotional plane.
So if you know someone who could use a good dose of Self-transformation in more than one ways, send them this article, and give me a shot (rather than take an allergy shot!)
Aziz Merchant, BHMS, MDHOM