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Hay Fever

The long-awaited change from winter to spring is finally here. Spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and revitalizing our energy. However, while some people are eager for the arrival of Spring, not everyone will be sharing in the excitement. For many, spring is a time of the dreaded sniffles. It seems that each year many people are being affected; so many patients have asked us what can Chinese Medicine do to help?

What Is Hay Fever?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen or dust usually occurring during spring and early summer. It causes an inflammation of the nasal membranes producing painful and irritating symptoms such as sneezing, sinus congestion, itchy and watery eyes and headaches.

Spring is characteristically a windy season. Wind-pathogen in Chinese medicine can be interpreted as airborne pathogens such as pollen, bacteria and viruses. The Wei Qi, which is the defensive energy of the body, is the first barrier to protect the body from those pathogens. According to Chinese medical theory, anyone who suffers from allergies has a deficiency of qi, or internal vital energy. This deficiency can be related to several organs, including the Kidney, Liver, Lung and Spleen.

Allergies are an auto-immune disorder, which means that the immune system overacts to otherwise harmless substances. This may be due to a weakened immune system. From a Chinese medicine perspective the immune system is related to the Kidney, Lung, Spleen and Liver energy and if these organs are over worked and stressed then the immune system can’t slow down so it begins to over react. Therefore to improve the immune system and allergies, it is important to strengthen and balance the organs that may be out of balance.

Why Does It Happen?

Winter is a time for hibernation where the body slows down and the blood, lymph and fluids go deeper into the body. Generally people eat more, exercise less and work indoors with little fresh air. When spring arrives it is time for the body to spring clean, the liver awakens and gets the energy moving. If there is a build up of toxins in the body, the liver needs to get rid of the waste and the lung system is a helpful rout to do this. The way our bodies adapt to the new season will depend on how well we have looked after ourselves in the previous season. If we haven’t exercised, eaten in moderation, and haven’t had adequate rest in winter our bodies won’t be able to clean out the toxins. This will over burden the immune system leaving us more susceptible to developing hay fever.

What Can I Do to Get Some Relief?

Conventional medicines such as antihistamines and nasal decongestants can provide some relief however it is usually short lived and does not address the underlying issue; therefore it is not always desirable for the long term.

However Chinese medicine offers an approach that may prevent hay fever attacks from occurring in the first place. It can also help to reduce the duration and severity of hay fever symptoms.

For people who wish to manage their hay fever naturally, Chinese medicine offers a safe and effective preventative approach to reducing symptoms.

How Can Chinese Medicine Help Me?

Treatment involves acupuncture, spooning, cupping, diet and lifestyle advice and taking a herbal formula to boost the immune system and correct imbalances.

Chinese medicine can help to detoxify the liver, calm the kidney ( nervous system) strengthen the spleen to improve digestion and help to get the fluids moving again.

We do this firstly by stimulating the lymphatic system with cupping and spooning. The lymphatic system helps the immune system to destroy pathogens and get rid of toxins. However, unlike blood the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to help with the flow of lymph fluid therefore movement is slow. Lack of exercise or a sedentary job or lifestyle will contribute to a sluggish drainage of toxins through the lymphatic system.

Acupuncture can then be used to restore and balance the functions of the organs that are affected so they can perform their functions well. Herbal medicine will then be prescribed to further assist the cleansing process after the treatment has finished.

During your session, we will also provide dietary and lifestyle advice so you can play an active role in your health to help manage and prevent symptoms.

Are There Certain Foods O Should Not Eat?

While Chinese herbs and treatment can go a long way in helping hay fever sufferers, it is important to improve the diet and lifestyle. An appropriate diet typically means reducing sugar and sweets, including fruit juices, reducing refined carbohydrates, eating less dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, and consuming less fermented foods, such as bread, cheese, vinegar, and alcohol. All these foods affect the function of the digestive system and can lead to more damp accumulation in the body and therefore the sinuses. Improving your lifestyle means getting plenty of rest and avoiding unnecessary stress combined with exercise.

Can I Prevent Hay Fever Symptoms In The Future?

Chinese medicine places a great importance on prevention of illness. The best way to try and prevent hay fever is to preserve Kidney Qi in the winter. This means improving diet and lifestyle, such as: going to bed earlier, not consuming your Qi by being excessively busy and eating the proper foods in moderation.

Article written by Catherine Russo

References

Acupuncture Today website | Blue Poppy, website, article by Bob Flaws