Case Study

Case Study: Spring Allergies

As the ground thaws and pollen starts to fly, many people suffer from allergy and/or hay fever symptoms. If this sounds familiar to you, read through this case study to help develop your remedy-choosing skills.

The Case:

The first thing you need to do is determine the symptoms that you are experiencing or observing. Make sure that these are new symptoms. (If you are always dealing with draining sinuses, that wouldn’t be listed as a new symptom unless it is markedly worse.) Here’s our sample case:

The patient has been worried about the upcoming spring season. He knows that as soon as the trees start to green that his nose will start to run. He can just picture it, the burning and itching in his nose, the sneezing, the weeks of suffering without relief. Just the thought of this makes him agitated and he finds whatever he can to keep himself distracted while he awaits the dreaded allergies to set in.

Before you look up your remedies in your reference book of choice, remember that you want to have tunnel vision — you want to focus in on your most annoying symptoms, such as sinus drainage, sinus headache, or watery eyes. Just because a remedy might say it has shallow breathing, you do not NEED to have that symptom in order for it to work for the symptoms that already match.

Remember that a keynote is a symptom that is especially telling — if that symptom is present, it more readily points to that remedy. Keynotes are marked with **.

Allium cepa:

Allium cepa is made from the red onion. If you want an easy way to remember common symptoms needing this remedy, just think of how you react while you cut up a particularly potent onion. Your eyes and *nose will run profusely*. The discharge may *burn on your skin* and possibly cause sneezing. Allium cepa may also help when the discharge drains down the throat and causes coughing.

Allium cepa can be particularly helpful if symptoms come on from dampness, maybe a cold spring wind that brings rain or if you get your feet wet and don’t dry them thoroughly. This remedy is specific for spring colds.

A possible emotional reaction to being in this state of “profuse drainage” is anxiety about your health. You may even be in complete despair and believe that you will never recover from this state of illness.

Arsenicum album:

Arsenicum is a top remedy for anything related to toxicity. But even if your symptoms have nothing to do with toxic etiologies (causes), you can still use it successfully! The tears of someone needing Arsenicum can burn in the eyes and may possibly create sores under the eyes or eyelids. Your nose may feel plugged but continues to run and run and run. The discharge, just like with the eyes, will likely *itch and burn your nose*, causing sneezing that doesn’t bring relief.

You may want to consider Arsenicum if you believe your symptoms are from being exposed to a sort of toxin. Maybe your neighbors are fertilizing their lawns or starting to spray pesticides. Or maybe you’ve eaten something outdated that has given you a gut-ache (Arsenicum is a great option for ailments from food poisoning).

Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I need Arsenicum often for its support of a negative mental state: anxiety. The anxiety this remedy will help typically *causes restlessness*, whether that’s an inability to stay in one spot or a leg that won’t stop bouncing while you sit. The anxiety may also be due to fear of getting sick, even before you have any symptoms.

Which did you pick?

I like to first look at the physical symptoms. If there is a clear match that’s the one I go with! If it’s close, I move to the etiology (the cause) and if it’s still difficult I look at the emotional/mental symptoms as well. Remember to have tunnel vision and discard any symptoms that don’t relate to your case.

These two remedies are very close in their symptom picture for allergies. The case presented above could possibly require either remedy, except the patient isn’t even sick yet! This is a good indicator that Arsenicum is needed. The anxiety has overpowered every other symptom so far. And since the worry is due to fear of getting sick as opposed to the fear of not getting well, Arsenicum is a clear choice.

Since there are no physical symptoms yet, I would start with Arsenicum 6C, maybe a couple of times a day. This will calm fears as well as act as a prophylactic against the allergy symptoms. If symptoms do set it, increase the potency to a 30C. If that doesn’t help, take another look at the case to see if symptoms have changed to a need for Allium.