By Kelly Ferguson
Are you an allergy sufferer? Do you dread the fall or spring due to your seasonal allergies? If you are, you are not alone. Researchers estimate that nearly 50 million people in the Unites States have allergies making allergies the 6th leading cause of chronic illness.
An ‘allergy’ is hypersensitivity in your immune system to foreign substances. These foreign substances are known as ‘allergens’ and are recognized by your body and create a response in your immune system. Common allergens are animal dander, pollen, dust, nuts and mold. However, there are many different allergens and if you are not sure what you are allergic to it can be helpful to speak with an allergist who can test which allergens your body is having a reaction to.
In Chinese medicine there are four meridians we use to reduce/stop your allergy symptoms. These meridians are Spleen, Stomach, Lung and Large Intestine. The gut plays a large part in your immune system. Your gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract is the main route for external stimuli entering into your body every day. It is important that we work on keeping your GI tract healthy so that it can better handle the external stimuli.
There are various points that can be used to help with allergies, and these points will be chosen based on the individual, their symptoms, pulses and their tongue. A couple common ones are Large Intestine 4 which helps the body to clear toxins and reduce inflammation, and Lung 9 which helps support the Lung meridian and build qi.
Along with using acupuncture to help stop your allergy symptoms, your acupuncturist will also talk to you about your diet and daily lifestyle. For most these are simple changes. An example of this could be: over eating sweets. Sweets are actually very damaging to your Spleen and Stomach meridians which can make your allergies worse. Likewise, getting a shower at the end of the day to remove any allergens that might be attached to your skin, hair or clothing after being outside during the day. Some other tips are getting a new pillow every few months, buying a pillow cover that protects against allergens, and changing your filters in your car and HVAC.
As we near closer to spring time it is important to consider adding in or making some changes in our day-to-day life so that we can help prevent allergies. Be sure to schedule your acupuncture appointment this spring to help with the upcoming allergy season or any other spring symptoms you may be experiencing.