Alternative medicine

Wondering about alternative medicine…
My allergies have been pretty bad this summer and the big 180mg Telfast pills are getting less effective. What’s a sniffly girl to do? Pseudoephedrine makes me feel wacky so that’s out. In desperation, I caved to a co-worker’s recommendation and today got some Brauer Homeopathic Hayfever Relief. Now I feel kind of silly though, and I keep hearing Pa Snook’s voice in my head telling me that it’s snake oil. Do any of you guys use homeopathy? I’m supposed to spray this stuff under my tongue when I get up in the morning and then every four hours til bedtime. (Why under the tongue? Why is that special? There’s a mystery here.) No results yet, but it least it doesn’t taste too bad.

On a similar note, my boss just got back from a visit to his new osteopath. He got diagnosed with all kinds of food allergies. I’m like, “How in the world do they test for that in a one-hour visit?” He started explaining the process, which involves the patient holding the suspect food to his chest with his left hand while holding his right arm out and resisting pressure from the doctor. I’m not making this up. If you have an allergy to the particular food, you won’t be able to resist and your arm will fall. “What, you have to hold the food to your bare chest?” I asked. Nope. Just through your clothes. And the food itself can still be packaged! He actually dragged me into the kitchen and demonstrated with a liter of milk. I stood there like a dope holding the bottle to my chest and resisting with my arm. But lo and behold when he did it, his arm fell as “proof” of his allergy. I am super skeptical here. I could maybe see it if you were holding the food to your nose or something, or if you held it to your skin and it left a mark, but there’s no way I can believe that a food allergy is so strong as to affect your bicep muscle merely while being held in the opposite hand through layers of packaging.

Now I’m wondering if the bottle of homeopathic spray on my desk undermines my righteous skepticism over the osteopath…


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  1. I think you put it under your tongue because there are more blood vessels under the tongue and meds etc are absorbed into the bloodstream faster from that area.

  2. I guess that makes sense, since you take your temperature there and all. I still feel weird doing it though. 🙂

  3. Hm. Well, that stuff should work like allergy shots do: you trick your body into thinking it’s under attack by allergens all the time, so you start to produce antibodies to fight it. Which in the long run (6-12 months) is supposed to weaken the “bad” response to produce histamines. Maybe, but in the short term does it anything to suppress the symptoms that drive you nuts?

    Telfast is the same drug as Allegra here in the US; I had bad side effects with it personally. What about Loratadine (the US brand Claritin)?

    Here’s the Skeptic’s Dictionary entry on Homeopathy if you’re interested.

  4. Thanks for the link, Casey. I’ve never heard of Loratadine. We have “Clarityne” and “Clarinase” here though, and I’ve tried both. Clarinase seems to be the stronger one, as it contains pseudoephedrine and you have to ask the pharmacist for it. It worked for me but it made me feel weird. Plus it’s pretty expensive.

    I’m not sure what effect the homeopathic stuff has had so far, as I’m still under the waning influence of the last Telfast I took. I did notice that I didn’t blow my nose all afternoon though (and I had to several times in the morning). May have just been psychological though. I’ll keep you guys posted.

  5. I just wanted to say that Clarityn (generically loratadine) did nothing much for me but Zirtek (also Zyrtec etc, what is it with these weird drug names? do they need a different spelling for each country? it’s generically cetirizine anyway) works wonders.

  6. I agree with you about Zyrtec, Kirsty. It’s the only med that seems to help me. For some reason, my allergies just wouldn’t respond at all to treatment with Allegra. The only affect I noticed with Allegra was a weird, spacey feeling. But, I’m also taking the “D” versions of those drugs, so, that is likely the biggest cause.

  7. agreed – zyrtec all the way. works for any kind of congestion, actually, and i didn’t notice any side effects…

    re: homeopathy, remember a few years ago when i went to the mean homeopathic doctor that wore the cosby sweaters? and after like, a 2-hour session where i described my health history from childhood to present, he gave me a tiny white pill that i wasn’t allowed to touch with my fingers, told me to let it dissolve underneath my tongue and come back in 2 weeks to review? i’m nearly positive it was a sugar pill, but according to him it was the proper “remedy” for numerous symptoms of mine, including (according to him, this is what he gathered from my “history” as problems that needed solving) – frequent headaches, menstrual cramps (don’t we all get those?) muscular aches and pains, and occasional itchy rashes on my arms and hands. i told myself that if it was just to have a placebo effect, then i would let it – so i was open-minded and tried to be positive about the whole thing. and guess how well the mystery pill worked?

    anyway, ask mom about the homeopathic throat spray she raves about. i got some “nasal swabs” once that are supposed to delay the onset of common cold symptoms. didn’t notice anything. although some people really swear by it, i think it’s just a craze fixing to flood the market – like st. john’s wort or zinc supplements did.

    buncha honky if you ask me. 🙂

  8. I just thought I’d add something: My best friend gives these homeopathic teething tablets to her daughter, and she swears by them. They did seem to calm the baby down a few minutes after she took them. That’s the only homeopathic remedy that I’ve seen work first-hand.

    I tried a few of the sublingual (under-the-tongue) remedies before, and I didn’t notice any difference with my symptoms. I think the biggest ones I still deal with on a weekly basis are insomnia and headaches. Ends up my non-stop headaches were actually migraines (which my last REAL doctor diagnosed, after years of suffering with awful headache pain). With my doctor’s help, I’ve even identified what my particular set of triggers are. And I really don’t think anymore that a tincture of valerian root held under my tongue was going to do any amount of help. Made me gag most of the time. Just give me my quick-dissolving Zomig and a nap, and I’ll see you in the morning.

    So, aim, I agree with you: it’s mostly a buncha honky!

  9. And didn’t it eventually come out that St. John’s Wort actually causes cateracts? I think I’d rather be depressed!

  10. I’ve used Zyrtec but they didn’t change my life or anything. Maybe I should give them a proper trial. Or maybe I should actually, like, write down what I take and how I feel so I can actually remember afterwards instead of just switching products every time I go to the drugstore. *sigh*

    The funny thing is, I’m not even sure what I’m allergic too. I was never this way growing up. It really only started in the last four years (of big city living, of course). I am completely congested for the first hour or so after waking up, no matter what time of year. It really sucks when I wake up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom and then spend an hour trying to get back to sleep with my nose running. I also get it (to a lesser degree) when I go to bed at night. During the day I sometimes have intense periods where my eyes water and my nose runs and I sneeze. I’ve just been assuming it’s hayfever, but my attacks don’t always seem to line up with other folks that have it. Maybe it’s mold or something. I guess I should get tested.

    Oh, I almost forgot. I also have a completely petty reason for disliking Zyrtec. I got a phone call a couple weeks ago from a guy running a survey about hayfever. “Cool,” I thought, “actually something that pertains to me.” So I started answering his damn questions. It went on for half an hour! Gradually it became obvious that the survey was sponsored by Zyrtec, who were interested less in my symptoms and more in whether I remembered their stupid “She goes like a Zyrtec” TV commercials. Grrrr.

  11. I have a very similar allergy experience. I never had allergies until I was 25? 26? They really started bothering me was when I was on the ship, so I knew that it wasn’t an outdoor allergy. The MD on the boat thought that I was allergic to dust mites since I was most affected first thing in the morning (the mites like mattresses). Since then, I’ve rediagnosed myself to be allergic to mold (they act up in old cars on rainy days, etc) and there was certainly a lot of mold on the ship.) I’ve heard that it’s common for people to develop allergies in their 20’s, especially if they were very healthy as kids.

  12. Clarinase seems to be the stronger one, as it contains pseudoephedrine and you have to ask the pharmacist for it. It worked for me but it made me feel weird.
    Me too! I couldn’t tell if my feeling weird episode was related though, so I’ve never taken them again. I use telfast and I’m getting irritated by the amount of money I’m pumping into their company.
    I tried rhinocourt, which is a nasal spray for a couple of years, and it was pretty good after a while, but really expensive and it didn’t give instant relief.
    Let me know how the herbal allergy meds go. My not MIL takes them, and I think she thinks they are pretty good. But I’ll see how you go before considering them! I take the herbal anxiety one(nervatona) sometimes, and it is really good.

  13. anybody had trouble nervatona ?,i think it calms you down without any side effects.anyone tried catripall for depression?how did it affect you.

  14. We weren’t really talking about antidepressants, Graham, so much as herbal remedies for allergies. I suggest you try a website (or doctor) specializing in the area you need.

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