The thought of warm sunshiny days and clear blue skies makes most of us want to run out to enjoy the great outdoors. However for some, avoiding Mother Nature is seemingly more appealing. More than 60% of North Americans are affected by allergens from pollen, mold, pet dander and dust. Not only do the symptoms cause severe discomfort, it has also been linked to decreased productivity in the workplace.
Studies have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture may provide effective treatment for allergies sufferers as well as long-lasting results.
Many allergy sufferers rely on oral anti-histamines from Western pharmaceuticals for temporary relief of allergy symptoms like sneezing, running nose and cough, over time; these medications lose their effect and come with their own set of side effects, drowsiness being the most common. Studies have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture may provide effective treatment for allergies sufferers as well as long-lasting results. These traditional healing methods not only help to provide relief from allergy symptoms, but also stimulate the body’s own natural capacity to process toxic allergens by strengthening the body’s immune system.
The mechanism of an allergy
Simply stated, an allergy is an overreaction of your body’s immune system. Exposure to a normally harmless substance in the environment can cause allergy-ridden individuals to react as if the substance was harmful. When these substances begin to cause allergic reactions, they are referred to as allergens. Allergens trigger the body to release two chemicals:
- Histamines – ” stimulate mucous production and causes congestion, redness, swelling and inflammation
- Prostaglandins – ” constrict airways causing difficulties in breathing and enlarge blood vessels
Once these two chemicals are released, the related symptoms can last for hours and even days.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, sinus allergies are due to weakness of the Lung and Kidney Defensive Qi. As discussed in a previous article, defensive Qi is the “energy” which protects our body from external disease. With Chinese medicinal herbs and acupuncture, we are able to both strengthen and nourish these organs. Allergy-related immune cells have shown to be less active after Acupuncture treatments, likely dampening their reaction. The treatments also prompt the brain to release endorphins and other chemicals that improve blood circulation which helps to relieve congestion.
Huang Qin (Radix Scutellaria Baicalensis)
Harvested during the autumn months in the Jilin Province of China, this herb is commonly used for its detoxifying properties. With its cooling nature, it helps to clear heat in the upper respiratory tract and therefore eliminate mucous formation which causes nasal congestion as well as opening airways to facilitate easy breathing for asthma patients. Clinical research has also shown the alkaloids extracted from Huang Qin to possess strengthening effects on the immune system by producing anti-histamine effects to prevent the release of enzymes from mast cells. The healing properties of this herb are vast. Its use has also demonstrated much success in lowering blood pressure, promoting lipid metabolism to decrease cholesterol levels as well as helping with irritability and anxiety.
Xin Yi Hua (Flos Magnoliae)
The magnolia flower is referred to as an “exterior-releasing” herb, one which helps the body to release and eliminate disorders lodged within the layers of the body. Often times, Traditional Chinese Medicine treats diseases by bringing the disease to the surface of the body so that it may be released from the pores in the skin. Xin Yi Hua is commonly used to treat conditions such as headaches, chronic sinusitis, nasal congestion, mucous accumulation and red, irritated eyes. This herb enters into the Lung and Stomach meridian channels which both travel onto the face within the nasal area. It is for this reason that Xin Yi Hua is so effective in opening up nasal congestion to treat sinus problems. Research has also found topical application of this flower beneficial in decreasing mucous production in the nasal cavity, as well; it can be applied onto the skin to eliminate dark facial spots.
Cang Er Zi (Fructus Sibirici Xanthii)
During the months of August and September, this fruit is harvested when ripened. With its sweet, yet slightly bitter taste, Cang Er Zi enters into the Lung meridian channels to open up the nasal passages, breakdown mucous and eliminate headaches associated with sinus congestion. Cang Er Zi is also a source of Vitamin C, a vitamin which promotes and enhances immune function to protect against illness. Vitamin C is also necessary for healthy connective tissue, bones, teeth and cartridge.
Though the herbs discussed above are both common and beneficial to those suffering with sinus allergies, they may not be for everyone. Be sure to seek a trained Chinese Medical Doctor and herbalist to find the right herbs for you.
Don’t be stuck inside during the spring and summer months. The combination of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can provide symptomatic relief of allergies for sufferers of all ages. Once symptoms are under control and relieved, it is then possibly to address the underlying balances that keep attacks returning season after season. Strengthening ones immune system will help to build up a weakened respiratory system to prevent further occurrences of sinus allergies while allowing the tissues of the nasal cavity to heal.
Dr. Mable Cheung is amongst a handful of licensed & practicing Acupuncturists and one of the firsts to introduce both Cosmetic & Cellulite Acupuncture. She is also a 3rd generation Chinese Medical Doctor at Cheung’s Trading Company Limited. For more information, feel free to contact her at 519-252-9228 or at http://www.cheungstrading.com