Springtime Allergies

It is officially spring! Spring is the time of birth, where yang energy is full and abundant. For many people, however, spring and summer are seasons for allergies.

Allergies, or allergic rhinitis, are due to an over-reactivity of the immune system to certain allergens. During spring and summer, allergies are generally induced by wind-born tree, grass or weed pollen, and can cause such symptoms as: sneezing; nasal congestion; runny nose; watery, itchy, or red eyes; headaches; fatigue; and sometimes coughing and wheezing. When allergens and antibodies react in individuals with allergic rhinitis, their nasal mucosa becomes swollen and may obstruct drainage from the sinuses causing sinusitis in many people. Thus, sinus infections are a frequent complication and consequence of allergic rhinitis.

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While spring and summer are the seasons of the year that bring us outdoors, many people are unable to enjoy these warmer months due to uncomfortable symptoms. Chinese medicine can help bring relief of symptoms, correct imbalances of the immune system, prevent the occurrence of infection, and allow healing of tissues of the sinuses. 

From a Chinese point of view, allergic rhinitis is due to a deficiency of the Lung and Kidney's Defensive-Qi systems, combined with retention of chronic "Wind" in the nose. 

Allergic rhinitis often starts in early childhood, with a constitutional weakness, but it may also start later in life, with a progressive decline of Kidney-Qi. Lung and Kidney Qi Deficiency is the root of the problem, therefore, with herbal medicine and acupuncture, we strengthen and nourish these organs. The manifestation of the disease is Wind invading the Lung channel in the nose. This accounts for the acute attacks. With herbs and acupuncture, we clear the Wind, reduce congestion, and open the nasal passages. It is necessary to treat both the root and the manifestation in order to produce lasting results. 

The western treatment of allergic rhinitis relies mostly on the use of antihistamine agents. Unfortunately, antihistamines only treat the manifestations of the disease and not the root. In addition, they cause side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, dryness, and gastrointestinal disturbance. 

Chinese medicine offers allergy sufferers a way to strengthen their bodies and significantly reduce their symptoms, without unpleasant side effects. You do not have to spend another season living with allergies. 

Here are acupuncture points from my class notes and CAM book. I have clinically used these points in the clinic and I feel they are very effective in treating allergies, postnasal drips and colds. 

Wind-Cold Affecting the Lung

Treatment Points 

Main Points:

  • UB 12 - Main point for Wind Disorders
  • GB 20 - Expel Wind
  • GV 23 - Expel Wind from the Nose
  • UB 13 - LU Back Shu
  • LU 7 - Restore the Descending and Dispersing Function of the LU Qi 

Local Points:

  • Use various local points for the sinus issues: LI 20 a/or Yintang and Bitong (extra pt. - good local points for sinus issues

Wind-Heat Affecting the LU

Signs & Symptoms

  • Similar to general Wind-Heat as it presents with the common cold, however, there are more signs of an underlying KD a/or LU Deficiency
  • Patient may have: fever and chills w/fever predominating, slight sweating, runny nose w/yellow discharge, headaches, body aches, cough, itchy red eyes (heat), scratchy throat (wind) 

Treatment Protocol

  • Expel Wind-Heat
  • Restore the Descending and Dispersing Function of the LU Qi 

Treatment Points

Main Points:

  • UB 12 - Main point for Wind Disorders
  • UB 13 - LU Back Shu
  • LI 4 & LI 11 - used together to clear heat and move the LI 

Local Points:

  • LI 20 a/or Yintang - good local points for sinus issues
  • GB 20 & UB 2 - used together for itchy eyes 

Word to the wise: The treatment protocols mentioned above are to be used after a complete tongue and pulse examination. The effectiveness of these treatments may vary based on the differential diagnosis, while other points should be added or not used based on your patient history and complete examination. 

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