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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Johnson

Treating Seasonal Allergies with Traditional Chinese Medicine

I love the spring for the opportunity to spend more time outside--but with the bright new blooms and sunny days (if you can overlook the precipitation we have received so far!), comes an uptick in seasonal allergies. 

Allergies are the result of your immune system’s response to substances (like dust, mold, or pollen) that are usually harmless. After exposure to an allergen, the immune system releases histamine into your system. The histamine travels through your blood and latches onto cells that have receptors specifically made to catch the histamine. Once caught, the cells swell, which causes inflammation. This inflammation will bring about familiar allergy symptoms such as wheezing, itching, runny nose, and watery or itchy eyes.

Common allergy medications (aka antihistamines) stop the inflammation from occurring. The trick is to take the antihistamine drugs before exposure to the allergen and before histamines are released in the body. Once the inflammation has begun, not only has discomfort set in, but it’s much harder to manage, too.

Allergy medications aren’t always the ideal solution for two reasons. First, we don't always know what we are allergic to and when we will be exposed to it. This makes it very difficult to take medicine preemptively. Secondly, there are all kinds of side effects of allergy medication such as drowsiness, dry mouth or eyes, dizziness or headache, change in blood pressure or heart rate, and more. So, how can we prevent allergic reactions or reduce inflammation once allergies have set in without the negative side effects? You guessed it--Traditional Chinese Medicine!

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)--which includes acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, and electrical stimulation--is incredibly effective for treating inflammation. A recent study by the NIH concluded that acupuncture is safe and effective to treat allergic rhinitis and may have advantages over prescription and over the counter allergy medication. 

In TCM, by taking a holistic approach, we are not limited in the way that we can address a patient's allergic reactions. Here are a few tips you can try on your own and general information regarding treatment:

Proactive Planning

  1. Eat well--I've heard it all before. But consuming food that is nourishing, easy to digest, and hydrating can only help during allergy season. Some foods to consider adding to your springtime diet that support your body in conquering allergies include: wa rming spices (ginger, cinnamon, cumin, small amounts of cayenne pepper), as well as salmon, scallions, eggplant, broccoli, and dandelion greens. Green tea is always a good decision, too. Some grocery items to avoid during allergy season include: dairy products, refined sugars, cold beverages, and fruits that cause dampness (bananas, citrus, melons). Additionally, avoid eat 2-3 hours before you head to bed for the night, and eat until you're about 80% full--this helps your body avoid additional strain.

  2. Get plenty of sleep. In an ideal world, you should be getting eight hours of uninterrupted rest every night.

  3. Manage your stress, meditate and breathe. Try to set aside just five minutes out of your busy day to relax, clear your mind, and take some deep breaths.

Consider Acupuncture

Acupuncture will successfully clear out any accumulated toxins and improve the function of the organs contributing to your allergy symptoms and inflammation. How?

Acupuncture regulates the nervous system

  • Acupuncture can activate the pathway that connects the nervous and immune systems. This is called the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway which is controlled by the vagus nerve and plays a critical role in inflammatory response.

  • Acupuncture also regulates how the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems communicate with each other and a healthy relationship between these nervous systems is crucial to the reaction of the body to allergens.

Acupuncture can act like an antihistamine.

  • As mentioned above, histamines are chemicals released in the body in response to an allergen. One one hand, acupuncture may not work as immediately as an over the counter antihistamine medication, but on the other hand acupuncture rarely has negative side effects and may help prevent future allergy symptoms. 

Ready for Relief?

If you are interested in allergy prevention and relief via any of the modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine that we offer, don't hesitate to reach out today! We welcome your call and look forward to creating an individualized plan for you. Contact Everybody Healing Center today to begin living fully and breathing easily once again!

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