Secret Shopper: How to answer customer questions about homeopathic remediesSecret Shopper: How to answer customer questions about homeopathic remedies
Each month, Natural Foods Merchandiser's secret shopper heads incognito into a natural products store with a question. The employee's answer—and our expert's evaluation of the response—is reported here. Our aim: to help you improve your store's customer service.
March 29, 2014
How does homeopathic allergy medicine work?
Store: Rather than masking allergy symptoms, homeopathic remedies essentially train the body to fight off allergens by itself. You take a very small amount of a certain plant, and that preps your body to handle exposures to allergens in the future.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: Should I take it before feeling symptoms to build up my body’s immune response?
Store: No, because you don’t want to be taking this—or any—medication for no reason. You wait until symptoms arise. The hope is that, after taking the medicine, those symptoms will not only be gone but will not show up again.
How did this retailer do?
Our expert educator: Peter Borregard, certified homeopath practitioner at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy in Berkeley, Calif.
The retailer’s response to the first question wasn’t bad, depending on the type of treatment she was recommending. Many homeopathic allergy formulas are not just plants. Rather, they are combination remedies, which are mixtures of individual plant, mineral and animal remedies that have been shown to relieve acute symptoms of allergies, such as itchy eyes or sneezing.
The homeopathic preparations that the retailer was referring to are more about introducing very dilute versions of an allergen into the system to promote tolerance (like the region-specific solutions from Allergena). They won’t treat symptoms per se, but will act like allergy shots in reducing intolerance for the long-term.
As for her response to the second question, if someone knows she is hitting the allergy season or will be exposed to allergens, I’d suggest she start the remedy two or three days ahead of the likely exposure. I would recommend using either type of homeopathic remedy prophylactically, but using the Allergena ahead of time is especially helpful. I’d also suggest some form of constitutional treatment [that addresses overall health rather than a specific need] if recurring allergies—or other symptoms—are in the picture.
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