Physiology of Allergy

Allergy is one of the most common chronic health conditions worldwide. Allergies can develop at any age; with the genetic predisposition. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. During an episode of allergy, the immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in abnormal quantities. These antibodies trigger the release of histamine and other chemical substances in the body that give rise to allergic reactions. Few of the common allergic conditions are hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, allergic eye (allergic conjunctivitis), allergic eczema, hives (urticaria) and allergic shock also called as anaphylactic shock.


Airborne allergens such as animal dander, mold, pollen, dust mites
Certain food, especially seafood and nuts
Insect stings, such as from wasp and bee
Medications, particularly penicillin-based antibiotics
Genetic predisposition


An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some people, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma. In serious cases, it can lead to anaphylactic shock, that can be life-threatening.

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • A runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest congestion
  • Redness of the eye
  • Watery and itchy eye
  • Rashes on face
  • Itching, redness, and dryness of skin
  • Swelling of throat
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing


An allergist or an immunologist can help with a diagnosis.
A detailed history and physical examination can diagnose the type of allergic reaction.
Blood tests (specific IgE levels) can help with the diagnosis of allergies.

Treatment in Allopathy

Lifestyle modifications by using air filters and avoiding trigger factors are important. Some of the other remedies are-

  • Nasal corticosteroids/ nose sprays- they reduce swelling. Swelling causes a stuffy, runny and itchy nose. These are the most effective medicines for nasal allergies.
  • Antihistamines block the release of histamine- They can calm sneezing, itching, runny nose and hives.
  • Mast cell inhibitors prevent the body from releasing histamine.
  • Decongestants reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose.
  • Corticosteroid creams or ointments relieve itchiness and stop the spread of rashes.
  • Oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions.
  • Immunotherapy can be offered as a treatment of choice for patients with severe allergic reactions

Allergy and Ayurveda

Ayurveda regards allergy as a disorder of Kapha dosha and Pitta dosha. The root cause may lie in weak digestion that leads to a build-up of toxins within the digestive system. This build-up of Ama (toxinstravels to the respiratory system and gets collected as mucous creating breathing problems in case of Kapha dosha predominance. In case of dominant Pitta dosha, the toxins get into the skin and blood causing skin allergies.

As the 75 percent of immunity resides in the gut, a weak digestive system leads to a weak immune system. The immune system develops particular sensitivity to certain allergens like dust, mite, pet’s hair, pollen etc. As soon as the person comes in contact with the allergens, the build-up toxins in the respiratory system cause breathing problems such as wheezing, coughing and sneezing.

Yoga and Pranayama

Surya Namaskar is particularly helpful in increasing the metabolic rate and blood circulation to the digestive system. Pawanmuktasana, Setu Bandhasana, Vrikshasana, Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana, Ardha chandrasana and Salamba Sarvangasana are some of the yoga asanas that can be tried for rhinitis allergy. But all the asanas first need to be done under the care of a trained practitioner who knows your full medical history. Pranayama like Anulom-Vilom, Bhastrika, and Kapalbhati are particularly beneficial.

A practice of Neti pot cleaning of each nostril with lukewarm water is also very helpful in curing rhinitis allergies.

Treatment in Ayurveda

The Ayurveda treatment of allergy concentrates on balancing the vitiated dosha, optimizing the digestive system and building immunity against the allergens. The treatment protocol also involves making lifestyle and dietary changes.

Panchakarma or Detox

Panchkarma is prescribed to control serious cases of allergies where Basti (enema), Vamana (emesis) Virechana (purgation) are carried out to get the toxins out of the body. Abhyanga with herbal oils and steam bath are recommended for skin allergies.

Nasya Therapy

Ayurvedic Nasya Therapy helps to clear the sinus and upper respiratory system by delivering a blend of herbs through nostrils. It helps to lubricate dry nasal passages and keeps allergens from irritating the nasal lining. A regular practice of Nasya can go a long way in controlling the recurrence of allergy attacks.

Change in diet

A proper diet is essential for controlling allergies. For kapha based allergy all the cold and heavy food items such as dairy, rice, beans, and fried foods are prohibited. As far as possible have warm cooked food. It is better to eat 3-4 hours before going to bed and drink warm water during the day. The use of pickles and chilies is also restricted.

Herbs and spices

Spices like ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper are included in the diet. Licorice root or mulethi, amla, tulsi and pippali are prescribed to balance kapha dosha and invigorate digestive fire.

Yoga and Pranayama

Surya Namaskar is particularly helpful in increasing the metabolic rate and blood circulation to the digestive system. Pawanmuktasana, Setu Bandhasana, Vrikshasana, Virabhadrasana, Trikonasana, Ardha chandrasana and Salamba Sarvangasana are some of the yoga asanas that can be tried for rhinitis allergy. But all the asanas first need to be done under the care of a trained practitioner who knows your full medical history.

Pranayama like Anulom-Vilom, Bhastrika, and Kapalbhati are particularly beneficial.

A practice of Neti pot cleaning of each nostril with lukewarm water is also very helpful in curing rhinitis allergies.

Allergies and Naturopathy

Naturopathy regards Allergy as the extreme reaction of the immune system to substances that are found in the everyday environment. The goal of naturopathy is to reduce inflammation, minimize hypersensitivity reactions, optimize the immune system response and improve digestion.

It is important to identify the allergens that are triggering allergic reactions. Right identification of allergens helps in an allergic reaction by preventing exposure to allergens. Sometimes simple changes in diet and lifestyle can relieve extreme allergic reactions.

Treatment in Naturopathy

Naturopathy gives importance to the liver and adrenal glands in managing allergies. A liver detox helps in removing harmful toxins from the body which are responsible for triggering an adverse immune reaction. The liver is responsible for the detox of the whole body. If the liver is compromised then the body’s ability to detox gets severely affected. There, rejuvenating the liver is a necessary first step in allergy management. A herb called milk thistle has liver rejuvenating properties.

The adrenal releases stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol plays a vital role in regulating the immune response. Both high and low levels of cortisol adversely affect the immune system. Naturopathy aims to optimize the production of cortisol for the proper immune response to inflammation.

Changes in Diet

The right diet is vital for managing allergies. Pro-inflammatory foods are removed from the diet. The intake of fruits and green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fats rich in omega 3 fatty acids like flax seeds, evening primrose oil, fatty fish is increased. A supplementation of cod liver oil can be taken in certain cases. Vegetable oils rich in omega -6 fatty acids are removed from the diet. So are refined carbohydrates and sugars. Red meat contains a substance called arachidonic acid that causes irritation to the immune system. Removal of red meat from the diet helps to contain allergic inflammation. Spices like turmeric need to be made part of food preparation because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Balancing the gut flora

Naturopathy also focuses on increasing the gut flora to strengthen the immune system. A right combination of prebiotics and probiotics is given to the child to revive the gut flora.

Acupuncture, Acupressure, natural herbs, Yoga, and Pranayama are conjunctively used to treat allergy depending on each individual case.

Allergy in Homeopathy

Allergies are individualistic conditions. What causes allergic reactions in one person may or may not cause a similar reaction in another person. The severity of the reaction and the sensitivity to the trigger also vary from person to person. As such, the treatment offered for allergic reactions also needs to be individualistic.

This is what Homoeopathy offers. Homeopathy works on the ‘like cures like’ principle. The remedies help in boosting the body’s natural immune system due to which the body regains its lost strength and fights off the disease on its own, thus restoring health.

Treatment in Homeopathy

In an acute attack, homeopathic remedies help in gently removing the symptoms of the allergy and restoring normal health. Homeopathy is especially effective in the long run where the remedy will not only help boost your immune system but also make you less sensitive to the allergens.

When you visit a homeopath for the treatment of allergic conditions, she will ask for a detailed history about your condition, family history of similar conditions, conditions that aggravate or relieve your condition, seasonal affections, food preferences, lifestyle, physical activity levels. Based on all the information you have provided she will form a ‘totality of symptoms’ and choose a remedy that best suits this totality.

Acute Allergy

Given below are some of the most commonly used remedies in an acute attack of allergy. These remedies are only indicative and it is advisable to consult a qualified homeopath before taking any of these medicines./span>

  1. Allium Cepa– Allium Cepa is widely used in allergic rhinitis brought on by pollen, dust, fur, and viruses. Acrid nasal discharge and bland lacrimation characterize this remedy. The symptoms typically worsen in warm rooms and towards evening. The condition improves once the affected person is in the open air.
  2. Apis Mellifica-When the allergic condition presents as a red, swollen area with severe burning sensation and extreme hypersensitivity to touch then the remedy indicated is Apis Mellifica.
  3. This remedy works well in allergic reactions to bee stings, and insect bites.
  4. Aethusa Cynapium– Aethusa is a remedy that works well in allergic reaction to milk/lactose, especially in infants. A tiny infant crying hungrily for milk but who vomits out the milk immediately after he has been fed is a typical picture of Aethusa.
  5. Sulfur– Sulphur is a remedy that acts extremely well on allergic reactions manifested on the skin. Frequent attacks of allergy making the skin look extremely unhealthy and dirty is an indication of Sulphur. The patient usually is seen scratching his skin uncontrollably as itching provides great relief. It is well-suited for chronic allergies that keep relapsing.

Allergic conditions respond extremely well and quite quickly to acute homeopathic medicines.

Chronic Allergy

If there is a tendency for recurring allergies to a specific allergen or to random things, the condition is considered chronic. In such cases too homeopathy is extremely effective. A chronic constitutional medicine will be prescribed here, which has been selected after a detailed study of the case. A chronic constitutional medicine is selected after careful consideration of one’s personality type, the duration of suffering, the factors which aggravate or alleviate the disease, genetic predisposition, food habits and several other factors.

Homeopathy is a gentle and effective form of treatment. It is rumored to be slow-acting, but as all rumors are, this one is also not true. The duration of treatment depends on how well one’s body responds to the treatment. Usually, if the disease has been long-standing, it will take a while to go away too.

How to take homeopathic medicines

While taking homeopathic medicines patience is of prime importance. One needs to be highly observant too. Report any alterations in health after taking the medicines, however trivial they may be, to your homeopath. These give a clear picture to your homeopath about the medicinal action and the disease prognosis.

Homeopathic medicines do not go well with coffee. Avoid taking coffee during the course of your treatment. Strong smelling food substances like onions and garlic are also best avoided.

Do not eat or drink anything for half an hour after you have taken medicines.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to not self-medicate. The remedies given above are only indicative. Always consult a qualified homeopath before taking any medicines.

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