How I Use Acupuncture for Allergies in Autumn
People suffering from Allergies and Sinusitis in Autumn here in San Diego dread the dry, hot, winds that blow in from the high desert during our “Santa Ana” conditions.
The problem for allergy sufferers is that the dry hot desert air brings in dust, pollen and pesticide pollutants. This is a nightmare for people with allergies. Allergy symptoms from San Diego Santa Ana’s include
- dry itchy red weepy swollen eyes
- itchy eustachian tubes and skin
- dry irritated itchy nasal passages and back of throat
- sneezing fits
- runny nose,
- nasal congestion
- sinus headaches
What can be done?
I use Acupuncture, Cupping, Moxabustion, and Chinese Herbs for Allergies in Autumn, along with an anti-allergy medical Diet and Ayurveda . I use similar protocols for year round allergies, and allergy to cats and dog.
Acupuncture for Allergies in Autumn
The first line of treatment for Allergies and Sinusitis in Chinese Medicine is Acupuncture
Classical Chinese Acupuncture can help nip an allergic response in the bud when allergen levels spike in Autumn. I also use this for people who get allergies year round or from tree pollen in spring. …These acupuncture points are also good for cat, dog, and dust allergies…..This kind of acupuncture is most effective when done immediately at the onset of symptoms, so come in right away.
Acupuncture to treat Allergy Symptoms:
I use Classical Chinese Acupuncture points like Feng Qi/GB20 at the base of the skull to to relieve Allergy and Sinusitis symptoms no matter the underlying causes. This acupuncture point works by opening the flow of Qi in the head, sinuses, eyes, and face, which increases sinus drainage, sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness in the eyes and nose.
Nip an Acute Allergic Response in the Bud with Acupuncture
To nip allergy symptoms in the bud I do Acupuncture Points like “Feng Qi” and “He Gu” (GB-20 and LI-4) 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.
If there is a lot of sneezing, runny nose, or nasal congestion then I choose the Acupuncture points “Welcome Fragrance” (LI-20) . You can tell by the name of this acupuncture point that it is used to unblock the nose and restore the sense of smell lost by congested nasal passages.
I add acupuncture point Yin Tang, which calms the mind, which is how Chinese medical theory describes acupuncture points that calm the fight or flight nervous system response that can contribute to allergy symptoms…. I will also show you how to do acupressure on these acupuncture points that are on the face and hands at home.
Acupuncture to treat the Causes of Allergies
But I also want to use acupuncture to treat the root of the problem. Allergies and Sinusistis develop in people who are either what we call Excess or Deficient.
Acupuncture for Allergies in Excess Conditions
Excess, or Full, means too much of the right thing in the wrong place, like when there is too much rain and the land is flooded. Overwatering a garden can create conditions for fungus and mold to grow. Its not that we dont need rain, its just too much..
And example of an Excess condition is too much fat from too much food, or too much beer or sweets. This creates a Damp conditon.
Another Excess condition is stagnated and overheated Liver Qi. This occurs from too many stressors at once, or a bodymind type that carries a lot of tension by nature.
In both of the above cases we can use acupuncture for allergies caused by excess conditions by releasing stagnant Liver Qi or stimulatng the Qi mechanism to release dampness from the body.
Acupuncture for Allergies in Deficient Conditons
Deficient, or Empty, conditions are not enough of the right thing in the right place…An example of a deficient condition is the fatigue that results from hunger. Another example of a deficiency condition is the person with fatigue from anemia. Naturally skinny people, the Vata dosha types of Ayurveda, can be naturally deficient.
People who don’t breath well, who do not know how to breathe from the diaphram can develop Lung Qi vacuity. Vacuity, deficiency, and empty are all translations from the Chinese medical term Xu.
These various Chinese medical diagnostic terms are Chinese medicine’s way of describing dysfunction of the immune system, the effects of stress and emotions on the physical Lungs and Lung Qi, and the way stress and genetics combine to produce hyperactive allergic response.
Acupuncture points for Allergies from Weak Defensive Qi/ Wei 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 Qi” or “Defensive Qi.”
Wei Qi is how Chinese Medicine describes the aspect of the immune system that helps us avoid colds and flu…When this part of our overall Qi is weak, we get easily sick. But this Wei Qi also describes our levels of sensitivity to allergens. When the Wei Qi is weak we develop an overactive histamine response.
To strengthen your Wei Qi and balance your immune response, I choose Acupuncture points Zu San Li and San Jin Yao. These points also strengthen digestion which helps our body to run “cleaner.”
Good digestion one of the bases for a healthy immune response. The toxic sludge that develops from weak digestion or poor diet, called Ama in Ayurvedic Medicine is called Dampness in Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture Points for Dampness in Allergies
Dampness is a systemic problem in that it obstructs the free flow of Qi energy through all the body’s tissues, from the interstices of cells to the accumulation of phlgem and mucus in the lungs and sinuses..When Dampness or Ama develop, its like the engine of a car in desperate need of an oil change, when the nice light lubricant has become a thick slime. When Weak Defensive Qi is complicated by dampness, I will add points like YinLingQuan/Sp-9 to drain dampness from the body.
Sp-9 is a point used for both cold-damp and damp-heat, and is used from many manifestations of dampness in the body
Weak Lung Qi
Some people who are allergy prone have “Weak Lung Qi.” These are the people that also often have Asthma, allergic Eczema, or who catch colds or flu easily.
Both Acupuncture theory and Western Medicine associat the nose, sinuses, and eustachian tubes with 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 is extracted by the lungs from the air around us. The oxygen is then infused into the blood stream and pumped by the heart.
Lots of Americans have shallow breathing for many reasons. Its our diaphram, that great big muscle that cuts accross the torso at the solar plexus, that acts as a bellows and forces the lungs to take air in and out. There are many reasons people become shallow breathers. People become shallow breathers when they are frozen by fright as children, but also when their tension levels constrict the movement of the diaphram. This similar to the tight neck and shoulders we get with stress. Anxiety can also inhibit deep breathing.
When someone has “Weak Lung Qi” they will get catch colds easily, be prone to allergies of the lungs and skin, 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
We can observe Dampness easily in the human body by looking at the tongue coating. A thick or slimy coating will betray a damp condition. We can also detect dampness just by looking at a person. Overly fleshy weak muscles with a lot of fat is a sign of a damp condition.
Pulse diagnosis in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine will also show us a damp condition. Pulse diagnosis is Chinese medicine’s X-ray. The damp condition produces a slippery pulse. All obese folk have slippery pulses, we all have a slippery puse just after eating, and all pregnant women develop slippery pulses.
Obsese people’s pulse is slippery because they have too much fat and flesh. Dampness is a condition of “too much of the right thing” The opposite of pathological dampness is pathological dryness.
If you go too long without food and drink your mouth turns dry. That is the beginning of a dry condition. Food and fluids at meal time produce a normal damp condition since food and liquids are themselve dampness from the earth.
Pregnancy obviously produces a damp condition as the fetus and placenta grow. Those are not pathalogical.
But when you eat the wrong food over a long time period, foods that are too heavy or too cold, dampness develops. If on top that, you dont get enough exercise, dampness accumulates even more…This is why everyone has a temporary damp condition when they get up in the morning. Your feet are a quarter size larger in the morning because fluids have accumulated. Your mind is a little foggy at first, untill you have moved around, or had your tea and coffee drug stimulant…
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 for Allergies and Sinus Health