Sneezing Her Way Into Our Office
Carol came to our office for the first
time two and a half years ago complaining of an eleven-year history
of seasonal allergies:
My eyes run. They itch like crazy. My nose drips like a faucet
and just doesn't stop. I'm kind of introverted. It started out
as hay fever, but now it's also a fall allergy, and it's been
getting progressively worse over the years.
The symptoms are worse if I go outside and rake leaves or sweep.
My eyes itch more if it's been dry outside. Rubbing my eyes makes
them worse, but I just can't help it. They're SO itchy! I sneezed
out in your waiting room. My sneezes are loud, and I get one after
My allergies began when I was 35. I was
a social services agency employee, and we were working in an old
barracks. It started with annual sinus infections with thick,
green nasal discharge. That was in Minnesota.
When we inquired how these allergy symptoms
affected her life, Carol explained
that they were quite embarrassing, annoying, and inconvenient. Always
needing to carry
tissues drove her crazy. It was not uncommon for her to be forced
to leave a department store because of her sneezing attacks.
Carol also suffered from neck and back tension and tension headaches.
She experienced a persistent, nagging soreness, which reminded her
of a muscle ache. She also suffered from heavy menstrual cycles,
resulting in anemia – so heavy that she needed to replace
a super-plus tampon hourly. The excessive menstrual flow resulted
from a tubal ligation. Consequently, she had been taking the birth
control pill for years to control the breakthrough bleeding.
Of great concern to Carol, as well, were chronic anxiety and depression:
Nine years ago, I was filled with emptiness.
I was married at the time, with a teenager still at home. I went
through a painful and extended separation and divorce then moved
to Oregon, where I live now. I've been taking antidepressants
for some time now. Without them, I felt worthless, hopeless, and
wanted to isolate myself. It really hurts to lose your life partner.
He just stopped believing in me. We ultimately wanted different
kinds of lives. I'm shy. Not a mover and a shaker like him.
I dated someone for quite a while, but the
relationship was too draining. It didn't give me the time and
space that I needed for myself. When I feel crowded and feel that
more and more is expected of me in a relationship, my reserves
become depleted. I'm very sensitive. Noises or too much activity
are overwhelming. When I work at the agency, I have to give myself
space in between appointments to decompress.
Carol commented that the antidepressants
caused her to have very vivid dreams. One particularly devastating
dream was of her husband no longer needing her.
This was a case in which we did not find the simillimum, the homeopathic
medicine that best matched Carol's symptoms, for some time. But
she was helped with homeopathy from the beginning, and hers is a
particularly good teaching case, because we prescribed three of
the main hay fever remedies prior to choosing the one that has helped
her most significantly for the past year and a half.
We initially prescribed Allium cepa (onion) 200C, which is an excellent
medicine for hay fever with the classic symptom of nose running
like a faucet in addition to itchy eyes and recurrent sneezing.
It is a member of the Liliaceae family, and there were elements
of Carol's feeling excluded repeatedly in her life, which is typical
of those needing medicines from this family.
At her next visit, five weeks after taking the medicine, Carol reported
having felt better within an hour of taking the Allium cepa. Since
that time, she had sneezed only occasionally. She was "thrilled,"
but there was not much of a change in her other complaints.
We saw Carol again two months later. She had experienced a brief
flare-up of her allergies, causing her to miss a couple of days
of work. She had begun to taper off of her antidepressants and was
bothered by some anxiety as a result. Carol had consulted her gynecologist,
on our recommendation, regarding switching from the oral contraceptive
to bio-identical hormones and found her physician to be quite supportive
of the suggestion.
Her periods were about the same. Beginning a yoga class had produced
some relief in Carol's back tension. Knowing that all of these symptoms
should be significantly alleviated with the right homeopathic medicine,
we changed the prescription to Natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride),
then, a month later, to Sabadilla, a Mexican plant made from cevadilla
seed, also a member of the Liliaceae family. In our experience,
Sabadilla is the best homeopathic medicine for annual hay fever
with severe, recurrent, paroxysmal sneezing. A single dose a year,
generally in March or April, is often all that is needed for a number
of our patients.
Finding the Simillimum
Ten months after Carol began homeopathic care with us, we were still
not quite satisfied with the prescriptions and did a retake of her
case, in which we started again from the beginning as if we met
her for the first time. Although Carol's description of her hay
fever symptoms was much the same as previously, she emphasized her
feeling of being unconnected to those around her. Unconnected meant,
to Carol, a lack of a relationship and a day-to-day companion, a
lack of contact with friends, and a feeling of an empty house:
It is as if life is going through the motions.
I do not fee involved, engaged, thriving. There is a feeling of
too much internal room. A vacant, empty feeling. Surely, the answer
is in that tree out there. The tree, that is life. Summer, spring
speak to me. I feel connected when I see something from nature…
when I'm experiencing the earth. Or something that flow naturally
from the earth. Vibrant, growing, living, aware.
Unconnected is like stagnant, shrinking,
defeated. It doesn't go anywhere. The connectedness is more like
a long vine that reaches out… all the multiple leaves that
come off of it. Reaching up, to the side. Following the ground,
the air. It keeps growing and changing. It reflects light. You
can see space between it. That's the vine.
We asked Carol to relate the feeling that
was the opposite of what she was so beautifully describing. She
described very vividly a feeling of being choked, not having enough
air or nutrients, feeling stifled, shriveled up with no life –
just as she had felt with her depression.
During this retake appointment, Carol was able to speak more spontaneously,
and she expressed her plant nature more. Also clearly articulated
was the prominent theme of connectedness and disconnectedness, which
echoed nicely her earlier description of her relationship history.
We chose the remedy Euphrasia (eyebright) from the Scrophylariaceae
family. According to Rajan Sankaran's methodology, the main vital
sensation of this family is one of bonds and connection. These bonds
are not so strong as the patient would like, therefore they hold
on tightly. Then, when the connection breaks, fear follows. This
fit Carol quite well. Euphrasia belongs to the typhoid miasm, indicating
a period of intense, short effort (as in the episodes of hay fever)
followed by rest and collapse.
A Life-Changing Response
Two months later, Carol reported feeling healthy, happy, and ready
for a relationship. Her allergy symptoms had been minimal, and any
anxiety was short-lived. For the first time in our relationship,
Carol giggled as she spoke:
I feel really, really good. Happy with myself.
Free. Okay with my God. More humor. I laugh a lot. There's just
this connection to what I need. I work out in the garden, even
in the rain. I feel happy inside. It's like my misery is gone.
No depressed feelings at all. A little bit of anxiety, but it's
manageable. I want to live.
It feels like a lot of internal pieces have come together. I've
been able to let go of a lot of things. Parts that just wanted
to get out. Much less rigidity. Thank you. I'm very happy. Cosmic
relief. I have no complaints. Even my periods are lighter. Menstrual
We waited and did not prescribe another dose
of the remedy since she was progressing well. Four months later,
the report was still enthusiastic and beaming:
I'm doing great. I love my life. I feel
really good. I feel free to grow. I know if I stick to my core
I won't go astray. I like two men, but I'm still shy around them.
My work is good. It's growing.
We repeated the Euphrasia 200C for the first
time in four and a half months. Carol phoned two months later, in
the midst of hay fever season, requesting another dose. We saw her
again seven weeks later:
There is a little sneezing. I've been dating
the same man for several months now. He's wonderful. I'm smitten.
I did have a pelvic ultrasound, and I have two small fibroids.
I'd like to lose a little weight.
We pointed Carol in the direction of a gym,
a trainer, and Pilates classes and gave another dose of Euphrasia
200C. Now, four months later, Carol's allergy symptoms are minimal,
if any. She is also happily married, feeling quite connected to
her new husband.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP,
LCSW, and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP are licensed naturopathic physicians
board certified in homeopathy. In practice for 25 years, they practice
at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA,
and treat patients by telephone and video consultations as well
as in person. They are co-authors of eight books, including the
best-selling Ritalin-Free Kids,
Rage-Free Kids, Prozac Free, A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome
and Autism, Whole Woman Homeopathy, Homeopathic Self-Care, The Patient's
Guide to Homeopathic Medicine,
and Mystics, Masters, Saints, and
Sages: Stories of Enlightenment.
They have taught also internationally. They live on Whidbey Island,
WA and Pucon, Chile and can be reached at 425-774-5599 or at www.healthyhomeopathy.com.