Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies

Man with cold using nasal spray, holding tissue.

With spring in full swing, seasonal allergies follow closely behind. That means a runny nose, red, itchy eyes, sneezing, as well as many other symptoms caused by pollen during the springtime are approaching. Preventing those symptoms before they start is important and vital to surviving allergy season with as few symptoms as possible. Through a combination of techniques, you can get through this allergy season comfortably.

How to be proactive in preventing seasonal allergies?

Being proactive in preventing seasonal allergies is vital to fighting off those pesky symptoms that come along with this time of year. Ways to be proactive include:

  • Reduce exposure – Stay inside on dry, windy days. On these days, pollen will be in the wind and gusts around. It is best to go outside after a rainy day as it helps clear the pollen from the air.
  • Be aware when pollen counts are high – Look at pollen levels on the internet or TV to determine how at risk you are for each day. Try to limit outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen count is the highest or on days with high pollen count so that it decreases the risk of being affected by pollen.
  • Keep your windows closed as much as possible. By keeping the windows closed in your house and your car, it decreases the amount of pollen that is let into your house and car. Therefore, there is a smaller likelihood of you being affected in either of those places.
  • Wash off and get rid of pollen – When you get home, shower and remove clothes to prevent bringing pollen indoors. Rinsing the nasal passages with a saline solution is an inexpensive and fast way to rid the nostrils of allergens and clear any nasal congestion.
  • Know your allergies to figure out what pollen you are most reactive to. This is important because there are three types of pollen: tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen. Just because you are allergic to one type of pollen does not mean that you will be allergic to the other types. Knowing which affects you most can help as it allows you to interpret the pollen levels in a way that will help you.

Allergies Explained in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the overarching idea is that when various symptoms are exhibited, they indicate an imbalance in the body’s energy. This energy is understood as Qi. There are a variety of types of Qi, each one relating to a different aspect of the human body as a whole. In TCM, symptoms of allergies or Allergic Rhinitis (AR) are described as a disruption or imbalance in the body’s Qi. More specifically, AR is classified as a “deficiency of lung-qi and cold, weakness of the spleen and stomach, deficiency of kidney-yang, and latent heat of the lung meridian”. Lung Qi is the most outer layer Qi that protects our body from outside pathogens. When Lung Qi is deficient, the protecting guard becomes weaker. All the systems within the body are connected, so for example, in Chinese Medicine, it is believed that the lungs and nose are closely linked. This is why when the lung-qi is thought to be imbalanced, it can cause nasal congestion. Therefore, through acupuncture, Qi is able to be restored and rebalanced.

How does acupuncture help with seasonal allergies? What is the mode of action?

In clinical and animal studies, acupuncture has been described to have a variety of effects. It has been claimed that the circulation within skin and muscles is increased as well as endorphins are released. Acupuncture has clinically been proven to decrease pain and aid in musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, acupuncture has also been shown to affect the immune system, which is an important aspect of seasonal allergies. The human body recognizes pollen as an invader, so the immune system tries to fight it off, which, in turn, causes the symptoms we know as allergies. Acupuncture is assumed to regulate the activity of natural killer cells, lymphocyte proliferation, chemotaxis, and phagocytosis. Lastly, a reduction of white blood cells in the blood that fight against foreign objects in the body including allergens was observed. Acupuncture appears to act on and regulate the cytokine profile, particularly the expression of IL-10, IL-2, and IFN-γ all of which have been seen to play a role in the immune response to allergens. Overall, acupuncture is thought to act on the immune system in a way that decreases the immune response and inflammation caused by pollen allergies in the springtime.

When to begin getting acupuncture for seasonal allergies?

It can be different for everyone, but typically January to March are popular times to begin receiving acupuncture treatment for seasonal allergies. The sooner, the better because it is best to prevent symptoms before onset.

Please call Pearl River Acupuncture at 845-668-1700 if you would like to seek acupuncture treatment for your seasonal allergy symptoms. Dr. Lee is a licensed acupuncturist and board-certified herbalist who creates individualistic treatment plans for all of her patients, we are always here to help!

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