Acupuncture and Allergies

Acupuncture and Allergies

Spring is here: Seeds are sprouting; bare branches are starting to show buds; the earth is warming. There is a thrill in the air, perhaps even a lightness to your step. Spring brings a renewal and new beginnings. It also brings allergies.

For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, spring can feel like a disheartening blur of symptoms: runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and coughing. Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages and may lead to sinus infections or sinusitis. Rather than temporarily alleviating these symptoms the way allergy medications do, acupuncture addresses the underlying imbalance that’s causing the symptoms in the first place – allowing you to enjoy the outdoors all season long.

Two Theories on Allergies

From a western medical perspective, when grass, weeds, and trees release their pollen, some people react with a heightened immune response. This causes histamine to be released, which leads to inflammation and muscle constriction.

In Chinese Medicine theory, our bodies are surrounded by an outer layer of energy which protects our “exterior” and fights off outside pathogens that cause colds, flu, and allergies ( similar to our immune system).  Pollen, pet dander, dust, and mold act like outside pathogens. People who are susceptible to allergies, along with people who get sick a lot tend to have weak exterior energy.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help allergy sufferers by reducing symptoms and by strengthening energy to head off problems before they start. Here are a few studies showing how acupuncture can help with allergies.

Another study published in Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that 85 percent of hay fewer sufferers who received weekly acupuncture treatments for six weeks showed overall improvements in their hay fever, compared with only 40 percent of the placebo group. (Allergy:European Journal of Epidemiology. November, 2008)

In addition to acupuncture here are some natural ways that can help with allergies

Spice it up:  Spicy dishes can thin mucus secretions and clear nasal passages. Try adding cayenne pepper or ginger to your foods. Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It may provide some relief from allergy symptoms by dilating constricted bronchial tubes.

Eat the right fat: Omega-3 essential fatty acids can counter the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation of the air passages. Good natural sources include flaxseed oil and salmon.

Eat yogurt and increase fiber: Food intolerances seem to be connected with seasonal allergies. A healthy and active colon can decrease food sensitivity, which can, in turn, lighten the burden on your immune system and may reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. For maximum colon health, increase the fiber in your diet and eat yogurt.  In a study conducted at the University of California, patients who were fed 18 to 24 ounces of yogurt a day experienced a decline in their allergic symptoms by 90 percent

An apple a day: Some foods, including apples, contain the flavanoid, quercetin that can cross-react with tree pollen. Quercetin can reduce allergic reactions by having an antihistamine effect. It also helps by decreasing inflammation. Quercetin is found naturally in certain foods, such as apples (with the skin on), berries, red grapes, red onions, and black tea.




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