Of course, not everyone has this reaction. Geographic location plays a role, as it dictates the type of foliage present. There can also be a family history that predisposes sensitivity to certain allergens. An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from allergies and spend millions of dollars on medications and allergy shots.
Western medicine also emphasizes the importance of avoiding the allergen. The use of air filters to decrease exposure is encouraged. When avoidance or elimination is impossible or impractical, the next level of treatment may be desensitization, which involves injecting small amounts of the allergen in gradually increasing doses in order to neutralize the number of antibodies present over time. While allopathic medicine is effective in treating the allergic response, side effects such as drowsiness, immune system suppression or over-reliance on medications often result.
Bi yuan occurs due to invasions of “wind-cold” that eventually turns to “wind-heat” if not treated properly. Allergy symptoms will either present as wind-cold or wind-heat. Wind, like the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, causes congestion. This wind often coexists with a deficiency of the protective qi or “Wei qi.” Wei qi is analogous to our immune system. Those with Wei qi deficiency catch colds easily, and their allergy symptoms may be especially acute in spring or fall, which are windy seasons.
Treatment using TCM can dramatically lessen allergic reactions, or in some cases help the sufferer tolerate what caused the symptoms. It also enables most people to reduce or eliminate their dependence on allergy medication. We like to use a two-phased approach when treating seasonal allergies. First, during the pollen season, the focus will be to treat the acute symptoms by expelling the wind-cold or wind-heat. Second, after the pollen season, or when the symptoms have cleared, our focus is on treating the underlying problem by strengthening the immune system or Wei qi. After an initial series of treatments, further treatments are provided as needed. Some people may need to return once or twice a year for a booster, while others may need to come more often. Your treatment will always be individualized to meet your needs.
When we treat someone for allergies, we also look for constitutional or more deeply-rooted signs. The idea is to treat the person as a whole. According to TCM, people with chronic allergies often show signs of spleen or kidney deficiency as well as lung problems. The goal of the practitioner is to develop a treatment plan that will alleviate the patient’s acute symptoms while addressing the underlying immune system imbalance at the root of the allergy. Treatments often include lifestyle and dietary recommendations. There are also excellent Chinese herbal formulas that help to treat allergy symptoms and strengthen immunity.
Allergies are definitely treatable. TCM provides an alternative that doesn’t require taking western-style medications, which can have unpleasant or even serious side effects. If you suffer from allergies, you may want to consider the natural approach offered by Traditional Chinese Medicine.
For more information on Acupuncture For Allergies, please see our newsletter section.