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Treating Allergies with Chinese Medicine

Spring is in the air and so are higher amounts of pollen. Pollen is harmless, but if you have seasonal allergies, your body mistakes the pollen as a threat and tries to attack it. This reaction triggers inflammation and mucus, which are responsible for common allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes/nose, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, etc.

Western medicine typically employs the use of these most common drugs to combat allergy symptoms: antihistamines (Benadryl, Albuterol); Corticosteroids (Prednisone) and; Decongestants (Sudafed). While this combination of drugs can be effective in relieving allergy symptoms, seldom do they address the underlying root cause of the issue.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine are taught to diagnose a patient’s allergies individually by looking for a pattern that identifies the underlying cause. Once a patient’s unique combination of symptoms have been identified, a treatment plan can be specially tailored to them. A typical treatment plan involves regular acupuncture treatments, a daily herbal supplement, diet and lifestyle changes.

The most common underlying causes of seasonal allergy symptoms are weak lung qi and/or weak spleen qi, which can cause certain people to be more sensitive to everyday irritants. Lung qi refers to how well an individual’s nasal passages and respiratory tract are functioning; Spleen qi describes digestive function. For example, a weak spleen qi can lead to an overproduction of mucus, which tends to collect in the lungs. This is only one example, so consulting a trained acupuncturist and herbalist is the best way for your own pattern to be identified.

Acupuncture generally brings immediate relief to most patients and is done by inserting small tiny needles around the nose, sinuses and at certain points on the feet. Through this practice, symptoms such as sneezing, congestion and red/itchy eyes are typically relieved.

An herbalist’s job is to design a herbal supplement that addresses all aspects of the allergy–including the underlying weakness that made you susceptible to the symptoms in the first place.

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