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Can Acupuncture Help My Allergies?

by David Mortell, R.Ac.

It’s officially summer, the season of long days, fireflies and, yuck, ALLERGIES! When I was a child I suffered from terrible seasonal allergies that started in late July and made me miserable until the first frost of autumn. I think I set the Guinness world record for most sneezes in a day. I finally rid myself of allergies in college when I changed my diet and took allergy herbs.Tree and flower pollen cause millions of people to suffer with itchy eyes, ears and throats; sneezing and sinus congestion; and just plain pure misery. In medical terms it’s called allergic rhinitis. Typically, exposure to an allergen like ragweed or any other pollen elicits a massive immune system response. Antibodies attach to white blood cells living in the lining of the lungs, upper respiratory tract, stomach, and the skin. When these cells are stimulated they release histamines and other chemicals which produce those nasty allergy symptoms.

So, what do you do? While many allergy medications promise symptomatic relief, that relief comes at a price of side effects such as drowsiness, immune suppression, dry mouth and insomnia, to name just a few. What your body really needs to find is a more balanced immune response so you don’t feel so awful in the first place.

According to traditional Chinese medicine allergies are caused by a deficiency in the Wei Qi, or Protective Qi, a concept roughly comparable to the immune system. The Wei Qi is ruled primarily by the lungs and it circulates in the skin protecting us from environmental influences. People with a Wei Qi imbalance may catch colds easily and are usually more susceptible to what the Chinese call “pernicious evils” like wind, dampness, cold and heat. These environmental “evils” enter the acupuncture points and meridians and disrupt the normal healthy flow of Qi and blood in our bodies.

Acupuncturists use points like “Welcome Fragrance” near the nose, and “Meeting Valley” (Hoku) on the hand to relieve sinus congestion, headache, and sneezing. Chinese herbs like gardenia are used to soothe itchy, red eyes. Dietary changes can also help reduce allergy symptoms. For example, reducing or removing dairy foods from your diet may relieve sinus congestion and headaches. The nutritional supplement Quercetin appears to improve allergies, as well.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like further information regarding
allergy relief at david@theverve360.com. Wishing all of you a healthy and happy summer season!