Spring has sprung and all the blossoms are out. This is the first year in 4 years my son has not been on Chinese herbs for his seasonal allergies. Four years ago, my son's allergies caused his eyes such intense irritation, he rubbed them while crying hysterically until he exhausted himself into sleep. When he awoke, his eyes were blackened, one was swollen shut. Yet they still itched and he resumed crying and scratching. When he wasn't scratching and rubbing his eyes, he was scratching his skin until it bled. He had never had horrible eczema, but during tree pollen season, it worsened. I held him and rocked him while holding his hands away from his battered face. I tried not to let him see my own distress, holding back my tears and my desire to scream.
The following day we saw an Avicenna practitioner who gave my son a week worth of sachets of Chinese herbs to be taken three times a day. Although they smelled horrible, there was only a tiny amount he needed to take and after a bit of trial and error on how to convince him to take them, he willingly took the herbs. My son's symptom improved immediately. When his eyes did itch, a cool cloth was all that was needed to relief them.
After a week, and more herbs for the month, we were able to drive in the country with the windows down-- something we never dared do before as it would definitely cause his eyes to itch. After three weeks, my son actually started to like his herbs and made certain that he took them even when I forgot. He loved the idea that these herbs were made specially for him and that they made him better. He loved his follow-up consultations at the clinic and felt welcome and a part of something unique. At the advice of the practitioner, we reduced his intake of sugar and dairy foods. Later, I also reduced the amount of wheat. This proved a bit difficult during his birthday where I made him a wheat free and sugar free cake. Quite a challenge, but it still came out delicious. Yet it broke my heart when he said, "When I'm healthy again, can I eat sweets?". It took lots of long conversations to explain that he is healthy, he just is sensitive to tree pollen. At the end of August, he was weaned off the herbs and no longer needed them. We were told to start again before allergy season in the Spring. For the next two years, he went on herbs in the summer but his symptoms were less and less. Last year, he was only on herbs for a month.
This year, my son celebrated his 8th birthday at the beginning of May this year. It was the first time he had a "normal" cake. Although he still eats very healthy foods with little dairy, sugar or wheat, we don't feel bound by it and he can have treats at times without risking an increase in symptoms. This is also the first year we have seent he blossoms and not had any allergy symptoms.
It's quite ironic that his allergies are resolved as I am about to complete my first year of my MSc in Chinese herbal medicine. Yet there is nothing as inpsiring as first hand experience.