Spring is here! But for those of us who suffer with allergies, while we look forward to the blooming flowers and warmer weather, we also anxiously await the onset of seasonal allergy symptoms. And we all know what’s coming – the runny nose, the itchy/watery eyes and scratchy skin, and the constant sneezing. For some it even includes asthma or more severe symptoms.
While there are many conventional treatments available, many people are incorporating alternative approaches to treat their allergies, including acupuncture and other elements of Asian Medicine.
A small Randomized Controlled Trial published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2002 (Vol. 30, No. 1, 1–11) demonstrated a statistically significant effect on treating Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (SAR). http://www.traditionalacupuncture.com.au/files/acupuncture%20and%20SAR.pdf
The study looked at 26 individuals assigned to one of two groups, an acupuncture group or a “sham” acupuncture group. Results indicated that subjects in the acupuncture group reported significantly reduced levels of both nasal and non-nasal symptoms. While this was a small study, and larger studies are needed, it does provide some support for the use of acupuncture in the remediation of allergy symptoms.
It’s important to note than Asian Medicine works best when it is preventative. One of the primary classics of Asian Medicine has an interesting statement about the need to be preventative in treating illness. It states, “In the old days the [physicians] treated disease by preventing illness before it began . . . Treating an illness after it has begun is like suppressing revolt after it has broken out. If someone digs a well only when thirsty, or forges weapons only after becoming engaged in battle, one cannot help but ask: Aren’t these actions too late?”
Following this theory, allergy sufferers are encouraged to begin treatments BEFORE allergy season begins.
There are many things an individual can do to prepare for allergy season before the first bud appears on the trees. Asian Medicine is a patient-centered therapeutic approach. This means that there is no single treatment for all allergy sufferers. Rather, a treatment must be developed based on your specific signs and symptoms.
However, some typical things that would benefit most people include:
- Reducing or eliminating dairy products from the diet.
- Reducing or eliminating cold foods and beverages during the cooler/colder months of the year.
- Making sure to keep your neck covered, especially during the winter and early spring (a scarf is a good idea).
- Using a nasal rinse, such as a neti pot throughout the year, but especially during the winter and spring.
- Doing milder exercises during the winter such as yoga or tai chi, and getting sufficient sleep.
Individuals interested in learning more about how they can positively impact their health and potentially reduce the effects of allergies are encouraged to contact me.