Autumn in Austin brings with it the onset of many common seasonal allergens, including fall elm, marsh elder, and ragweed. These pesky fall pollens only give way to winter's even more irritating mountain cedar, which can cause symptoms often confused with the common cold. While most patients affected by allergens wait for their sneezing to start before turning to antihistamines for relief, their congestion and fatigue could be alleviated with the help of preventive acupuncture, herbal remedies and dietary adjustments.
Treating Allergies with Traditional Chinese Medicine
An allergic response is often a sign from your body that one or more organs are imbalanced and have an energy deficiency. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine believe the best way to control allergies is to address their underlying causes by treating the whole person. This means strengthening your body's Qi, or vital energy, as well as supporting the organ(s) that are most deficient in energy, instead of simply treating the acute symptoms to provide immediate relief.
Treating with Acupuncture
According to TCM, allergies can coincide with spleen, kidney, or liver deficiency, as well as issues of the lung. The degree to which these organ(s) is deficient in Qi will manifest in symptoms related to that particular organ. For example, a person with a healthy liver has healthy eyes. If your allergy symptoms affect mostly your eyes, resulting in itchy, red, or watery symptoms, you can be certain that your liver is not functioning properly. However, a runny or stuffy nose, frequent cough, or tightness in the chest are related to an impairment of the lung.
The goal of the practitioner to assess the underlying imbalances and utilize specific acupuncture points to tonify these organs. Every patient's treatment plan is unique, but it is important to note that treatment with acupuncture is most successful when these organ deficiencies are addressed on a consistent basis to maintain harmony in the body.
Treating with Herbs
Various herbal remedies can be taken alongside acupuncture treatment to increase effectiveness. Once the TCM practitioner identifies which systems are at the root of the allergic response, they can customize an herbal formula to meet your individual needs. Taken prophylactically, these herbs can help bolster your spleen, kidney, and/or lung function, allowing your immune system to function properly.
Treating with Diet
Diet plays an important role in treating seasonal allergies. Foods that increase dampness, such as dairy, sugar, and cold or raw foods, tend to cause mucus build-up. Excess mucus can cause a stronger allergic response and lead to bronchial ailments like asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Avoid these dampness causing foods and add ginger or cinnamon to your diet as often as possible throughout the season. In general, patients have better and longer lasting results if they make these changes to their diets.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies your contact your acupuncturist now, so your immune system can get a jump start on allergy season!