How I Use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Allergies in Autumn
People suffering from Allergies and Sinusitis in Autumn here in San Diego dread the dry, hot, winds that come from the desert during our “Santa Ana” conditions. The problem for allergy sufferers is that the dry hot winds bring tons of dust, pollen and pesticide pollutants with as they flow in from the desert and Imperial Valley. Symptoms range from dry itchy eyes and skin, to sniffles, sneezing, and full on nasal congestion. What can be done? I use Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Allergies in Autumn, along with Diet and Ayurveda.
Acupuncture for Allergies in Autumn
The first line of treatment for Allergies and Sinusitis in Chinese Medicine is Acupuncture and Cupping. I use Classical Chinese Acupuncture to relieve Allergy and Sinusitis symptoms, but also to treat the root of the problem, which is weak Wei Qi, weak Lung Qi, and pathological accumulation of Dampness.
Acupuncture Point Selection for Allergies in Autumn
Acute Allergic Response–High Pollen Count, Dust or Dander Allergy
Classical Chinese Acupuncture can help nip and allergic response in the bud when allergen levels spike in Autumn…This kind of acupuncture is most effective when done immediately at the onset of symptoms, so come in right away. I do Acupuncture Points like “Feng Qi” and “He Gu” that are used to get rid of all the symptoms in the head, from deep nasal congestion and headache, to runny nose and itchy eyes. This works, for example if you have an allergic response to dust when cleaning or to visiting someone with a cat or when the pollen count is high.
If there is a lot of sneezing then I choose the Acupuncture point “Welcome Fragrance” which stops sneezing and runny nose. I will also show you how to do acupressure on these points at home.
Weak Defensive Qi
In Chinese Medical theory people who are susceptible to attack by external pathogens such as dust and pollen are said to have “weak Wei” or “Defensive Qi.” This corresponds to the aspect of the immune system and overactive histamine response associated with allergy.For this reason i choose Acupuncture points Zu San Li and San Jin Yao to boost the immune system or Wei Qi. These points also strengthen digestion which helps our body’s run “cleaner.” The toxic sludge that develops with weak digestion or poor diet, called Ama in Ayurvedic Medicine is called Dampness in Chinese Medicine. Its a systemic problem that obstructs the free flow of Qi energy through all the body’s tissues.
Weak Lung Qi
Some people who are allergy prone have “Weak Lung Qi.” Just as in Western Medicine the nose, sinuses, and eustachian tubes are related to the Lungs. We breathe in and out of the nose, and when we get colds which affect our Lungs, often the Sinuses and Eustachian tubes are also effected. Oxygen and Food are the two sources of Qi in the body. When someone has “Weak Lung Qi” they will get catch colds easily, be allergy prone, both respiratory allergies and allergies of the skin like eczema, and they may have a weak sounding voice, not a booming voice. I can determine if you have weak Lung Qi from your voice, your particular signs and symptoms and by reading your pulse. Acupuncture Points I choose to strengthen the Lungs include Fe Shu and Tai Yuan, the regulating and source points of the Lung Qi
Liver Depression Qi Stagnation–Stress
Live many chronic diseases Allergies are worsened by stress. Stress amps up the nervous system via the fight or flight response. When that happens our body overheats, and heat creates irritation and sensitivity. If, on top of that we have weak Defensive or Lung Qi , we are going to be Allergy prone. Disease is often the result of the perfect storm of negative factors, in this case, stress with a particular kind of weakness. Chinese Medicine has an elegant paradyme that describes the cascade of effects of Fight and Flight on our body’s myriad tissues. The “fight” aspect in particular we describe as causing Liver Depression Qi Stagnation. When this is a factor you will notice feeling stressed out. Your voice might sound more like a shout, and your pulse will have a forceful bowstring quality. When this is the case, and especially if you have Sinus Headaches, then I will choose Acupuncture points Tai Chong, San Jin Yao, and especially the combination Zu Sin Li with Wai Guan.
Cumulative Effect of Acupuncture for Allergies and Sinusitis
Over time Acupuncture can helps your body reprogram itself so that it is less and less triggered by allergens. My very first experience with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Allergies and Sinusitis was when i lived in Chicago and had very bad Allergic Rhinitis/Hay Fever. I used to dread August and September, when the ragweed pollen levels were high. I went to see an American acupuncturist, and after a brief series of treatments along with some dietary change and herbal medicine (see below) my symptoms were down by 50%…I then left for India, so could not follow thru, but I have never had Allergies like that since.
Acupuncture over time will strengthen you immune system and lessen allergic sensitivity. Acupuncture helps return “flaring Ministerial fire” to its source so you feel less physically and emotionally reactive and stronger, too. When you see the kind of person who is phased by nothing and has no fear, that is because their ministerial fire/Agni is very strong and rooted. Acupuncture helps this process.
The Role of Diet in the Treatment of Chronic Allergies and Sinusitis
Wheat/Dairy/Gluten Free Diet
If you have had life long allergies or chronic sinus issues, or if they have suddenly developed, it is very valuable to go on a gluten free diet for 6 months. If it helps, stay on it longer. This does NOT mean you are Gluten Intolerant, or even necessarily Gluten sensitive. Its that high gluten grains, like Wheat, are very heavy, cold, and damp producing. Chinese medicine uses the word “sodden.” At a minimum, give up wheat and dairy, as both create the kind of cold damp condition in which the allergic response thrives
The Damp Body Mind Type in Chinese Medicine
The Damp Body Mind Pathology in Chinese Medicine corresponds to the accumulation of Ama in Ayurveda, especially in Kapha types.
Pathological Damp Accumulation Is seen in people who are overweight, who gain weight easily, and who crave sweets constantly. These types may have either a ravenous appetite or a weak one. They are usually more on the cold side, but can also get overheated easily. Damp Accumulation will show itself through fatigue, overproduction of fluids anywhere in the body, from oily skin to diarrhea, and with allergies will typically have profuse amounts of nasal discharge. These people get sick easily and often, and may have a propensity to dandruff or eczema. One of the ways of determining the damp type is that the pulse will feel full and have a slippery quality, such as is felt in pregnant woman, who are by definition in a damp condition.
Diet to Rid the Body of Allergy Causing Dampness
The diet to rid your body of toxic dampness is a diet rich in vegetables, especially cooked green vegetables, and over on the light side, a little bit of everything, but very little dairy, sugar, and less grain…Also important is to use adequate amounts of bitter, pungent, and aromatic herbs and spices. If you have had sinus infections you really cannot drink alcohol at all for a while.
Chinese and Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines for Allergies and Sinusitis
Chinese and Ayurvedic Herbal medicines are a vital part of the treatment of Allergies and Sinusitis. They help
- open the sinuses and bronchial tubes
- decongest your Qi
- cleanse dampness
- fight infection
- warm trapped cold Qi in the head or lungs
- boost the immune system
Chinese Herb Formulas I Use to Treat Allergies and Sinusitis:
For long term allergies with that doughy damp Kaphic body type and Candida type symptoms I often use Health Concerns brand Phellostatin a Chinese Herbal formula that rids the body of toxic damp heat and strengthens the ability to process food and fluids without creating more dampness. If a person like this is overweight and sluggish, I might add the Ayurvedic herb Guggal.
I have several kinds of Chinese Herbal formulas that i use depending on the case. These Chinese herbal formulas treat both the Allergy and Sinusitis symptoms, and also the cause.
A famous formula I use in weaker cold types with runny nose that sweat easily is Cinnamon Twig combination/Gu Zhi Tang.
If there is also stiff neck and nasal congestion I use Ge Gen Tang/Pueraria Combination.
Sun Ten brand Pro Botanixx Tong Bi is near-miraculous for allergy season symptoms causing sneezing, runny nose, congestion, headache and itchy eyes. It is a classic formula for removing the toxic cold dampness from the head that makes you susceptible to external allergens and works better than Anti-histamines.
If there is a lot of sneezing and nasal congestion I may combine that with an herbal formula like Modified Ma Huang Tang, what I call Allergease, which I have custom made, but this formula is unsafe for people with high blood pressure.
Most allergy sufferers benefit from lots of hot ginger tea during allergy season. In the morning feel free to combine with green or black tea, or also with cardamon or mint. It the person has lots of heat symptoms like very red eyes, then a cooling tea like Peppermint tea is better.
Neti Pot Saline Irrigation
Very valuable for the dry, irritated nasal passages due to allergies, rhinitis and sinusitis in any allergy season, whether the Santa Ana fall allergy season of San Diego, or the late summer/autumn hay fever season east of the Rockies, or even due to colds and flu in winter or from dried out nasal passages due to central heating in cold climates is saline irrigation of the sinuses. Also excellent to irrigate sinuses after sinus surgery which prevents mucus from accumulating in the sinus. I prefer the Neti pot, but some of my patients find the over the counter sprays from the pharmacy more convenient, like Arm and Hammer “Simply Saline” Nasal Spray, based on the Neti Pot. Also convenient for traveling.
Regular irrigation of the sinuses with saline has many benefits and is a critical component in the short and long term treatment of allergies and chronic sinus infections because it changes the environment in the nasal passages washing away allergens, particulates, dead skin cells, and mucus so that there is less for your body to react to, and a healthier mucus membrane which is harder for toxic bacteria or fungus to grow in. Saline/Neti pot reduces congestion by thinning mucus; it soothes dry irritated nasal passages caused by dry windy weather, allergies, rhinitis, colds, and flu, it also moistens mucus membranes that have been dried from dry weather, surgery, or drugs.
Warning: When using saline irrigation do NOT blow your nose. Allow the water to drain out your nose and down the back of your nose and dry your nose with a handkerchief or tissue. If you blow your nose you can send unwanted matter into your eustachian tubes. Moreover, when blowing your nose at any other time, please blow one nostril at a time. Blowing both nostrils at once also sends unwanted mucus and other matter into your eustachian tubes and may lead to ear infection. Especially with children, teach them to blow one nostril at a time.
How to Use the Neti Pot Correctly:
Mix your salt with water that is body temp, not too cold nor too hot. Use enough salt so it tastes like the ocean.
Lean forward over the sink, but turn your head 45 degrees to the side.
Insert the neti pot nozzle as far up the nostril as is comfortable, and allow all the contents to drain through one nostril. If your head is turned to the side adequately, the water will drain out the opposite nostril.
Allow the water to finish draining, DO NOT BLOW YOUR NOSE, but dry your nose with a towel and allow the rest of the water to drain down into your throat. Spit if neccessary.
Repeat with opposite nostril.
Anu Thailam Ayurvedic Nasal Oil
In addition to saline and the Ayurvedic Neti Pot, a wonderful traditional Ayurvedic remedy for Allergies, Sinusitis, and Colds is an oil used to lubricate and open the sinuses called Anu Thailam. Read more about here on my separate article Anu Thailam. Please be clear. NEVER USE ANU THAILAM AND SALINE OR THE NETI POT ON THE SAME DAY. IT WILL BURN YOUR MUCUS MEMBRANES.
for more on the treatment of disease with Acupuncture.
copyright eyton shalom, l.ac., san diego ca october 2013 all rights reserved use with permission