Allergy blog post
Spring is a beautiful season full of flowers, fresh air and sunshine. However, for many people suffering from allergies it can be a real pain, making it difficult to enjoy. Fortunately, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, can offer natural relief from seasonal allergies.
Acupuncture works by targeting specific points on the body to reduce inflammation and improve the immune system’s response. This, in turn, helps ease allergy symptoms. It can also provide deep relaxation, which further helps to reduce inflammation and stress levels.
In addition to acupuncture, herbal medicines can also be used to treat allergies. Herbal formulas are customized to the individual and can provide natural relief from symptoms like sinus pressure, congestion and sneezing, without the side effects. We have used them for years in the clinic with great results.
For a “new” person to the clinic, whose primary concern is allergy’s our typical procedure is 3-4 acupuncture sessions. In that time we are working to ‘tune’ up the body’s natural relationship to allergens. For some people pollen is no problem at all and for others it is. Why is that? The differences are in their immune systems or in TCM – Wei Qi.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of the immune system is not described in the same way as in Western medicine. However, TCM does have a similar concept known as “Wei Qi” or “Defensive Qi”, which is often referred to as the body’s “first line of defense” against external pathogens (allergens).
According to TCM theory, Wei Qi is a type of Qi (vital energy) that circulates on the surface of the body and acts as a protective barrier against external pathogens, like too much pollen. It is said to be closely related to the lung organ, which is responsible for breathing in fresh air and circulating it throughout the body. TCM has many ways to improve Wei Qi function.
When the body is exposed to external pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, or allergens, the Wei Qi is said to become activated and work to expel the pathogen from the body. This process is similar to the immune system response in Western medicine, in which the body recognizes and responds to foreign invaders in order to protect itself. If that response is too robust people suffer.
Once we feel the body’s own abilities are running at their potential and if there is still a problem we go on from there to other aspects of TCM.
Numerous studies have shown that acupuncture can provide significant relief for those suffering from spring allergies. *see end of article for citations.
In addition to acupuncture, TCM also includes other natural remedies for allergies, such as herbal medicine, dietary therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Herbal medicine can help to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
For people who come to us with a life time of allergies, especially spring allergies. Often they will use herbal formulas to balance their Wei Qi and lessen or eliminate spring allergies. The herbs generally have no side effects, aside from lessening/eliminating allergies.
Compared to over the counter (OTC) or prescription allergy medications can be effective (and sometimes necessary) in treating allergy symptoms, they can also have some negative side effects, which may include: drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth, nose, or throat, headache, Nausea and stomach upset, blurred vision, dizziness and difficulty sleeping. Consult your family doctor for this level of medication.
Dietary therapy can also help but no food is a proven cure. But fruits and vegetables are good for your whole body. They’re full of nutrients that can keep you healthy. They may also protect you from seasonal allergies.
Try these items:
1. Onions, peppers, berries, and parsley all have quercetin. Elson Haas, MD, who practices integrative medicine, says quercetin is a natural plant chemical. According to Haas, this chemical may reduce “histamine reactions.” Histamines are part of the allergic response.
2. Kiwi is a fuzzy fruit rich in vitamin C. It can also cut down on histamines. You can get Vitamin C from lots of foods, including oranges and other citrus fruit.
3. Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain. According to Lawrence Rosen, MD, bromelain can reduce irritation in allergic diseases such as asthma.
4. Tuna, salmon, and mackerel have Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 can help reduce inflammation. Go for two servings of fish every week. A study from Japan found that women who ate more fish had lower levels of hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis.
5. Kefir is a yogurt drink that contains probiotics. These are good-for-you bacteria that live in your gut. Rosen says they may help prevent and even treat seasonal allergies. You can get probiotics in fermented foods. Look for yogurts that say “live active cultures” on the label. Sauerkraut and kimchi are also good sources.
6. Local Honey. The research is mixed on whether local honey helps you head off allergies. “If you take small doses of the honey early in the season,” Rosen says, “you may develop a tolerance toward pollen in your area.” One study found that people who ate birch pollen honey had fewer symptoms of birch pollen allergy than those who ate regular honey. It’s not a sure thing, but see if it works for you.
Lifestyle modifications for allergy season include washing your face and hands more often. To get the pollen off your face/hands. Wash your bedding, vacuum more often. Clean the furnace filters, put in better quality filters and run the filter setting on your furnace to pull pollen/allergens out of the house. Keep the windows closed during pollen season.
If you are suffering from allergies this spring, try acupuncture and other TCM techniques. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment that can provide natural relief from allergy symptoms without the use of drugs or other invasive procedures. With the help of a skilled acupuncturist, you can enjoy the beauty of spring without the discomfort of allergies.
Kelowna Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies
Acupuncture helping allergy studies:
1.Brinkhaus, B., Ortiz, M., Witt, C. M., Roll, S., Linde, K., Pfab, F., … & Willich, S. N. (2013). Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(4), 225-234. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00002
2.Kim, J. I., Choi, J. Y., Lee, D. H., Lee, S., & Ernst, E. (2011). Acupuncture for treating allergic inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 128(4), 744-753. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.06.036
3.Ng, D. K., Chow, P. Y., Ming, S. P., Hong, S. H., Lau, S., Tse, D. M., … & Yuen, K. Y. (2004). A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis. Pediatrics, 114(5), 1242-1247. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-0842
4.Xue, C. C., English, R., Zhang, J. J., Da Costa, C., Li, C. G., & Story, D. F. (2007). Effect of acupuncture in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 35(03), 407-416. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X07004976