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  • Writer's pictureDr. Monica L. Hilton, DACM, LAc

TCM and Seasonal Allergies

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? 🤧 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help!

Seasonal allergies affect millions of people each year triggering bouts of sneezing, a runny nose, sinus congestion, cough, itchy skin, and itchy, watery eyes. Allergies occur when the immune system misidentifies a normally harmless substance or particle, like pollen, as a foreign invader. In the body’s attempt to protect itself against this foreign invader, it launches an immune response triggering inflammation, mucus production, and the typical allergy symptoms.

From a TCM perspective allergies are an indication that your qi is imbalanced or deficient. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the vital force responsible for maintaining the body's healing abilities. It flows through the body via pathways called meridians or channels. When qi flows freely the body is healthy but when its flow is disrupted it can result in illness, pain, or weakness. In the case of seasonal allergies, there can be an imbalance within the lung, spleen, kidney, or liver meridians. TCM can correct these imbalances with the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and TCM nutrition. Treatments can vary based on the associated symptoms, the time of year that flare-ups occur, and the patient’s underlying state of health.

So what can you do to relieve seasonal allergies?

Get acupuncture! Acupuncture can calm the body’s inflammatory response, open the nasal passages, stop itching, ease sinus pressure, alleviate sinus headaches, and relieve itchy, watery eyes. Weekly acupuncture treatments can work to relieve your current allergy symptoms as well as correct the underlying cause of those seasonal flare-ups. It’s recommended that you seek treatment before the start of allergy season to lessen the severity of or eliminate symptoms.

Our practitioner can also prescribe a Chinese herbal formula tailored to your needs that will address your current symptoms as well as regulate your qi to address the root cause of your seasonal flare-ups. You should always seek the advice of a licensed practitioner before taking Chinese herbs.

Watch your diet! Diet plays an important role in treating seasonal allergies. You should limit or avoid foods that create dampness like dairy products, fried foods, sugar, wheat products, sodas, alcohol, and raw, cold foods. These foods promote the accumulation of mucus and trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Instead one should eat warm, cooked foods and steamed vegetables.

You can also add immune-boosting foods like goji berries, apples, tangerines, kale, collards, sweet potatoes, oranges, spinach, raw honey, or Asian pears to your diet. These foods provide the body with vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and quercetin that all support a healthy immune system. From a TCM nutrition point of view, these foods can strengthen the lungs, descend qi to stop cough, resolve mucus, and tonify qi. Our practitioner can guide you on which foods are best for your condition.

Have some tea! Green tea is high in antioxidants and has been found to have several health benefits including the ability to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer. The catechins found in green tea have been shown to inhibit the release of histamine. Histamine is the chemical released in the body during an allergic response that triggers the typical allergy symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. Ginger tea and Chamomile tea are also beneficial during allergy season as they are natural antihistamines that help balance the immune system. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a natural decongestant.

Try acupressure! Acupressure on acupuncture point LI-20 Ying Xiang (Welcome Fragrance) can offer

immediate relief as it opens the nasal passages. LI-20 is located on either side of the nose beside the wings of the nose where the nose and cheek meet. Using the index fingers apply moderate pressure to each side of the nose while taking slow, deep breaths. This point can be used to treat multiple disorders of the nose such as nasal congestion, rhinitis, loss of sense of smell, nasal discharge, and sneezing.

Thanks for stopping by! Give us a call to get some relief this allergy season. 😊

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