Are you happy that winter is finally over, only to be bombarded with sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes as soon as the spring weather rolls in? You may be relieved to know that acupuncture can help!
large study in Germany of over 5,000 patients, published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, found that 3 months of acupuncture significantly decreased symptoms of allergic rhinitis, compared to a control group.
Many smaller pilot trials have also found significant effects of acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal Medicine for treating seasonal allergies. Increasing attention is being paid to the use of acupuncture to treat allergies in children, with promising results.
Acupuncture, herbs, supplements and dietary changes can help calm the sneezing, dry up yucky phlegm, and soothe those red and burning eyes. But how does it work? Read on for a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) explanation and tips for relieving those allergy symptoms…
TCM describes Spring as having the natural movement of upward and out. This can be observed in nature as trees and plants are pushing up new growth from the ground or out from tree buds. Spring is also directly associated with the element of Wind. Spring winds have the responsibility of carrying nature’s pollens and seeds and spreading them up, out and all around. This beautiful action in nature called pollination takes place, and results in a fertilized plant. For those with allergies, however, it may not be so wonderful.
Allergies are considered a “Wind” condition in TCM (this makes sense as most hay fever or allergic rhinitis conditions occur in Spring). There are several reasons described in TCM as to why some individuals are more sensitive than others. Most commonly, these folks have weaker protection against the allergens - either due to a predisposition at birth or a gradual weakening of defenses over time. Additionally, if repeated invasions of Wind are not treated properly, individuals can develop chronic “Wind” conditions like seasonal nasal congestion, watery phlegm, and sneezing fits.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine (when appropriate) work to strengthen the body's defenses while simultaneously dispersing "Wind" and relieving allergy symptoms.
Here are a few tips (including acupuncture, of course!) for dealing with irritating spring allergies: