Allergies Seasonal Acupuncture Treatment

Seasonal allergies occur after exposure to substances that are only present during certain times of the year. In some people, the body mistakes these harmless substances for dangerous foreign invaders. The immune system responds by releasing IgE antibodies, which attach to a type of white blood cell called mast cells.

Mast cells are mostly found in the lungs, skin, stomach and upper respiratory tract. When mast cells are stimulated, they release chemicals – including histamine – which produce allergy symptoms. The most common triggers for seasonal allergies include grass, tree and weed pollens. Some symptoms of seasonal allergies include:

  • allergic asthma
  • bloodshot, watery eyes
  • coughing
  • itchy eyes, skin and throat
  • runny or stuffy nose.

A family history of seasonal allergies increases the risk of developing this problem, as well as birth during a high pollen season and being a first born child.

Understanding Acupuncture

Many medications are available to treat seasonal allergies. While they can be very effective, they may also have unpleasant side effects. Acupuncture is a completely natural alternative method to treat allergies without side effects.

Acupuncture stimulates biologically significant points on the body’s surface to prevent and treat:

  • disease
  • illness
  • injury
  • pain.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture uses the insertion of special acupuncture needles to stimulate body points. Westernized acupuncture may substitute other non-invasive techniques, such as lasers, for needles. In any case, no chemical substances are ever introduced into the body.

The Philosophy of Acupuncture

While Western medicine often focuses on combating disease or injury, Chinese medicine traditionally focuses on optimizing the health and balance of the entire person. Chinese acupuncture operates on eight major principles:

  • Channels: In the human body, a system of ducts forms the pathways for flowing life energy (Qi). The ducts are connected in a network of major channels, as well as minor capillaries and collaterals. Fourteen major interconnected channels, called meridians, exist in the body. Each meridian is named for a major organ, though which it carries Qi.
  • Chinese Syndrome: Eight kinds of energy are used to describe the condition of the patient: Biao (exterior), Li (interior), Shi (excess), Xu (deficiency), cold, heat, Yin (masculine) and Yang (feminine).
  • Diagnosis: Chinese practitioners of medicine believe that internal body changes are reflected on the body’s surface. Diagnosis is made by observing the eyes, pulse, skin and tongue.
  • Five Phases of Transformation: The five elements of Chinese medicine are earth, fire, metal, water and wood. Each element corresponds to various organs in the body, and to other elements, in a complex relationship.
  • Points: Acupuncture points can be found at more than 400 locations on the skin. These points each connect to one of the 14 main meridians. Stimulating a point can influence the activity of its corresponding meridian.
  • Qi: Sometimes spelled “chi”, Qi is the animating life energy in all living things. In traditional Chinese medicine, Qi also refers to the functions of the internal organs.
  • Yin and Yang: These two opposite forces, yin representing feminine energy and yang, masculine energy, must remain in balance for optimum health.
  • Zang-Fu Theory: This theory explains the complex interrelationships between the major internal organs.

Acupuncture for Allergies

Acupuncture had been used successfully to treat a huge variety of mild to serious conditions. Acupuncture treatment for allergies begins by looking at the whole person for deeply-rooted imbalances. In basic Chinese acupuncture philosophy, allergies are believed to contain dampness, an excess accumulation of water. Using this theory as a starting point, acupuncturists determine whether heat or cold conditions are contributing to the problem. Once a diagnosis is made, the proper points are stimulated to begin to bring the body into balance.

Some acupuncturists use herbs and or cupping (creating a vacuum with heat and a cup against the skin help circulate Qi) in addition to point stimulation with needles.

Acupuncture’s Effectiveness for Allergy Treatment

A 2004 study published in Allergy magazine found that weekly acupuncture treatments combined with Chinese herbs showed promise as a seasonal allergy treatment. More than 50 people participated in the study. The test group received six weekly 20-minute acupuncture treatments involving stimulation of specific classic points for allergies, as well as additional points corresponding to each patient’s individual symptoms. They also received an herbal blend designed for the treatment of allergies.

The control group received acupuncture treatments, but used points which were far from the meridians. They were treated with smaller needles than the test group and received a non-specific herbal blend.

At the end of the study, the test group showed greater improvement of symptoms and higher energy levels than the control group.

Finding An Acupuncture Practitioner

If you are interested in trying acupuncture for your allergies, here are a few ways to locate a practitioner near you:

  • Check the Yellow Pages.
  • Try internet directories for local acupuncturists.
  • Your regular doctor may be able to refer you to an acupuncturist.

Acupuncture schools often offer treatment at a reduced rate. Students perform the actual treatment, but always under the supervision of a licensed practitioner.

Resources

Alvarez, Dr. M. (2007). Acupuncture pins down allergy relief. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Fox News Web site: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,263787,00.html.

Hangee-Bauer, C. N.D., L.Ac. (2009). Treating allergies with acupuncture and oriental medicine. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Acufinder Web site: http://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture Information/Detail/Treating Allergies with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2009). Hay fever: Risk factors. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hay-fever/DS00174/DSECTION=risk-factors.