What everyone who suffers from allergies should know about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine 

Safe, Effective Natural and Drug Free treatment for Allergy Relief!

If the snow melting and spring emerging makes you cringe then you are likely one of the millions of people that suffer from Allergies.  Before you run to the pharmacy for a decongestant, consider acupuncture and herbs for the treatment of allergy symptoms that can include runny nose, itchy watery eyes and congestion.

Western medicine tends to rely on relieving the symptoms of allergy sufferers with the use of medications. While this approach may provide temporary relief, there are often unpleasant or even intolerable side effects. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine believe that the best way to control allergies is to address their causes by treating the whole person and balancing the immune system.

What are allergies? 

In the spring, budding trees, flowers, weeds and grasses release pollen, which is spread through the air by wind. This natural occurrence can trigger an allergic reaction, known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Tree pollens are at their height in early spring, while grass and weed pollens arrive in late spring and summer. Aside from these seasonal offenders, other common allergens such as dust, dust mites, mold and animal dander trigger symptoms year-round. Exposure to the allergen results in symptoms such as itchy eyes and throat, sinus congestion and sneezing, asthma, and even diarrhea. What occurs physiologically is a massive release of IgE antibodies, which attach to white blood cells known as mast cells. These cells are mostly located in the lungs and upper respiratory tract, the lining of the stomach, and the skin. When these cells are stimulated, they release a number of chemicals, including histamine, which produce the allergic reactions. This is a misplaced immunity, and a learned response by the immune system.

Of course, not everyone has this reaction. Geographic location plays a role, as it dictates the type of foliage present. There can also be a family history that predisposes sensitivity to certain allergens. An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from allergies, and spend millions of dollars on medications and allergy shots.

Western Medicine Treatment of Allergies

It is important to understand that symptoms are signs of a malfunctioning immune system. In the case of allergies, things that are normally harmless, such as pollen, present a threat. The allergens are not actually the problem. The problem is the person’s reaction to the allergens. The histamine produced when attempting to fight off allergens is what causes the symptoms. Basic medical therapies, such as antihistamines, rely on inhibiting the allergic response. Antihistamines including Claritan, Zyrtec and Benadryl all can cause drowsiness and once medication is stopped, symptoms resurface quickly if the allergen is still present. Bronchodilators are inhaled medications used to control asthma symptoms and remove mucous from the lungs. If overused, bronchodilators can cause high blood pressure and rapid heart beats. Cortico-steroids (prednisone) and decongestants focus on suppressing the symptoms of allergies.

Western medicine also emphasizes the importance of avoiding the allergen. The use of air filters to decrease exposure is encouraged. When avoidance or elimination is impossible or impractical, the next level of treatment may be desensitization, which involves injecting small amounts of the allergen in gradually increasing doses in order to neutralize the number of antibodies present over time. While Western medicine is effective in treating the allergic response, side effects such as drowsiness, immune system suppression or over-reliance on medications often result.

Allergies and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, is a safe, natural and effective option for treating allergies. The goal of all TCM is to promote the healthy flow of qi  (energy) that travels through the meridians of our bodies. TCM interprets the cause of allergic rhinitis, referred to as “bi yuan,” as an imbalance in the distribution of qi. The blockages, excesses, deficiencies and imbalances that can occur in each of the meridians and organs need to be identified and corrected in order to eliminate allergy symptoms. When we treat someone for allergies, we also look for constitutional or more deeply rooted signs. The idea is to treat the person as a whole.

The practitioners goal is to develop a treatment plan that will alleviate the patient’s acute symptoms while addressing the underlying immune system imbalance at the root of the allergy. Treatments often include lifestyle and dietary recommendations and Chinese herbal formulas. TCM provides an alternative that doesn’t require taking pharmaceuticals. Why not try acupuncture instead of remaining dependent on potentially harmful prescription medications?  If you suffer from allergies, you may want to consider the natural approach offered by Traditional Chinese Medicine.