Check out the latest Google Trends and you’ll see that searches for all things “allergy” are peaking this month, just like they do every year about this time, marking the start of what The San Francisco Chronicle recently dubbed “sneazin’ season.” But despite all this searching, it would appear that we’re not getting any closer to finding a fix for a problem that continues to plague millions of people.
Or are we?
Ever since the term was first introduced in 1906, the list of allergies has continued to be refined to include everything from hay fever to egg, fish, dairy, nut and soy allergies. And yet as good as we are at describing this disease, developing consistently effective treatments has proved elusive.
Although drug-based remedies are by far the most popular, what works for one doesn’t always work for another. And sometimes what works for one eventually stops working. Even when there does appear to be some benefit, the side effects are often worse than the ailment itself.
“I pretty much missed out on most of my 20s,” says a longtime San Francisco resident, “because I was whacked out on [allergy drugs] that made me very sleepy.”
Failure to find lasting relief in drugs has led to an explosion of alternative approaches such as body detox programs and acupuncture. But even here we’re seeing mixed results, some of which are being attributed to the placebo effect – the idea that people get better simply because they think a particular pill or procedure will make them better.
Although the jury is still out on whether these approaches are any more effective than drugs, there is increasing consensus among members of both the conventional and non conventional medical communities that the thought of the allergy sufferer plays a significant part in the success of the treatment. This might explain why certain methods work for some and not for others, and sometimes only for a limited period of time.
One woman here in the San Francisco Bay Area found that the best thing to cure her cat allergy wasn’t a drug or even acupuncture, but prayer. As she describes it, this prayer – inspired by her introduction to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy – wasn’t a matter of pleading to God to fix a bothersome situation but, instead, the realization that God hadn’t created cats to be bothersome. With this simple shift in thought – a spiritualization of thought, really, a kind of mental treatment rather than a drug-based one – her allergy symptoms completely disappeared. And while sitting next to a cat no less.
This was years ago and the problem has never returned. Today, she lives with a cat.
Prevailing opinion suggests that while we can’t expect most allergies to be cured – especially those involving inhalants like pet fur – there are some that can be outgrown. Based on this woman’s experience, however, it would appear that not only is cure possible in all situations, but that perhaps the growth that’s required isn’t the least bit physical but wholly and decidedly spiritual.