Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Spring is in the air, so is the pollen

Driving to work today i saw some beautiful trees in flower, and already I have seen a few people suffering from hay fever.
So here is a little piece on hay fever, I hope it helps!

Hayfever is one of the commonest allergies affecting a massive 12 million people in the UK. The name is somewhat misleading; it is not caused by hay, but by pollens from wind-pollinated grasses, trees, and weeds, and spores from fungi.
Many people experience symptoms similar to hay fever all year round.
Doctors call this perennial rhinitis. Although symptoms affecting the eyes are unusual, sufferers have persistent attacks of sneezing and permanent runny nose. This allergy is frequently mistaken for the permanent 'cold' and children especially may be wrongly prescribed repeated courses of antibiotics. Frequent causes are mould and house dust mite, animal hair.
Allergic reactions such as hay fever happen when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance. This triggers the production of an antibody called immunoglobulin E or IgE. IgE causes the release of some highly irritating substances, including histamine, which produce redness, heat and swelling (inflammation).
The most common symptoms are sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, a runny or blocked-up nose, watery and bloodshot eyes, rash, itchiness, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Health complications from repeated hay fever attacks, year after year, may be an even more serious problem. Chronic sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinus cavities is one of these complications.

Hay fever and cross reactivity:
Those with pollen allergies are susceptible to cross-reactive foods. This occurs when the over active immune system cannot distinguish the difference between pollen proteins and food proteins. When the immune system recognizes a “cross-reactive” protein, symptoms manifest.

Here are a few examples of cross reactivity:
Alder Pollen - almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, parsley, peaches, and pears.
Grass Pollen - melons, oranges, swiss chard, tomatoes, watermelons and wheat.
Lily: Asparagus, Chives, Garlic, Leek, Onion.

Conventional treatment for hay fever:

Conventional treatment is mainly symptomatic:
Antihistamines ease most of the symptoms, but are not so good at relieving nasal congestion and may cause drowsiness.
Decongestant nose sprays are not usually advised for more than a few days. They have an immediate effect to clear a blocked nose. . However, if you use a decongestant nose spray for more than 5-7 days, a 'rebound' more severe congestion of your nose may develop.

Hay fever and allergies have increased by four times in the last 20 years.

Self help for Hay fever:
As a rule pollen levels are highest in the morning and early evening, but weather conditions make an enormous difference to pollen levels - hot dry weather or wind increase levels, whereas rain washes pollen out of the air. When pollen is high, keep windows in both cars and buildings shut, and avoid being outdoors, particularly in grassy spaces. When you do go outside, wear sunglasses, and wash your hair afterwards.

Alternative medicine is often very effective in treating hay fever and other allergies:

Acupuncture: beside rapid symptom relief, acupuncture can bring long term improvement.

Homeopathic remedies for allergic rhinitis include: Allium cepa, Euphrasia, Pulsatilla, Nux vomica.

Herbal supplements for allergic rhinitis include chamomile, Echinacea, Goldenseal, cleavers, elderberry , and eyebright .

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Acupuncture: what the doctors think

Too often alternative (or complementary) medicines are opposed to conventional medicine; it is often assumed that doctors are generally against it. Not so; many doctors either practice some form of complementary medicine alongside their conventional practice, or recommend it to some of their patients.
Here are a few quotes from sometimes well known doctors or professors; most of these are from the British Medical Journal.
"In the current scientific context it is well established that a situation of initiative is health enhancing, while in adverse situations it is pathogenic to be in a state of submission when typically fighting or fleeing are impossible. Resorting to alternative medicine is to put oneself in a state of initiative. It is usually associated with the belief that the chosen modality of alternative medicine is valuable (belief that may be shared by the practitioner). It is therefore easy to explain how the combination of state of initiative and placebo effect can have positive effects undetectable via randomised controlled trials". 
Dr Michel Oden

"Why do people seek alternative treatment? We have to acknowledge that modern medicine has failed to heal many diseases. Healing means cure and not just alleviation of symptoms. Cure means getting rid of an ailment or ailments leaving an intact body. Intact body means intact anatomy and function. Not all treatments are healers but all curatives are healers. We have to admit that modern treatments are not curatives in all cases.
The demand that a new and fresh approach to health and healing, unbound to Western Orthodox Medicine's specific approach to disease and treatment, be removed from scientific classification and research ignores the fact that there are areas of massive failure in Medicine (prevention, obesity, depression come to mind), and that three quarters of the Australian population turns to use these modalities even when they are costly and Medicine is massively subsidised.
We owe it to ourselves and our patients to understand why this happens, and what Complementary Medicine has to offer that we doctors are not providing. Our own Medicine has little more than a veneer of evidence-based respectability. We would do well to remember that we are all on a common path of science, and the goal of health care is not to be evidence-based, but to help those who seek our care using the broadest and best information available to us". 
Mark Donohoe medical practitioner

Independent quality mark for the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC)


From last month, patients and the public will be able to choose an acupuncturist belonging to a register vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care. The BAcC's members have been accredited under a new scheme set up by the Department of Health and administered by an independent body which is accountable to Parliament.
Acupuncturists on the BAcC's register will be able to display the Accredited Voluntary Register quality mark, a sign that they belong to a register which meets the Professional Standards Authority's robust standards.
Nick Pahl, CEO for the BAcC said:
"The quality mark will give extra peace of mind for anyone looking for an acupuncturist, letting them know that anyone who holds the mark is committed to high standards. The BAcC is pleased to offer the quality mark to acupuncturists that meet the far reaching standards of our register, as approved by the Professional Standards Authority."
Harry Cayton, Chief Executive of the Professional Standards Authority said:
"We are very pleased to accredit BAcC's register of acupuncturists. Bringing their members into a broad framework of assurance is good for patient, service users and the public and is the best way to promote quality. The scheme offers enhanced consumer protection to anyone looking for health and social care services, and gives BAcC registered acupuncturists the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment."
Accreditation means that the BAcC's register meets the Professional Standards Authority's high standards in governance, standard-setting, education and training, management, complaints and information.

Further information on the accredited voluntary register scheme is available at