Chinese medicine is incredibly helpful for allergic conditions. Allergies are one of the most common problems we treat at the Blue Ridge Clinic in Asheville, North Carolina. Acupuncture helps reduce the inflammation and the reactivity of the immune system and Chinese herbal medicine helps clear mucous and sinus congestion, while also reducing headaches and other symptoms.
There are different types of allergies, but all involve a hypersensitivity of the immune system to a substance. Seasonal allergies are very common in the US, and most commonly occur in spring and fall when pollen counts rise in the air. Dander, and dust mites are also problematic for people, and allergies to pets are typical.
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for these allergies that occur in the nasal passageways and sinuses. Rhinitis just means inflammation in the nose. Sinusitis on the other hand is an infection of the sinuses and can be more serious. In cases where a person gets multiple attacks of allergic rhinitis, their chances of getting a sinus infection increase. This is one reason why stopping allergies and preventing allergic rhinitis with acupuncture and herbal medicine is so important.
Symptoms can include red eyes, sinus congestion and runny nose, itchy eyes, redness, hives and skin eruptions, eczema, headache and sinus pressure, and even asthma. Finding and removing the causes of allergic rhinitis is very important. Obviously, if the problem is with pollen counts in the air, not much can be done when you are outside, save for wearing a surgical mask in extreme cases. But it is very important to keep the home very clean. Sheets should be washed in hot water every few days. the floors should be kept free of all dust and dander. Window sills and blinds should be wiped regularly.
Using a neti pot is also a very effective way to treat and prevent allergies. A neti pot basically washes the sinus cavities with a saline solution and removes allergens from those passageways. Humidifiers, air purifiers and ion generators have also been found to be very helpful for people with allergic rhinitis, and for those who get sinus infections regularly.
Some allergies are very extreme, possibly life threatening and can cause anaphylaxis, examples are allergies to peanuts or a severe allergy to a bee sting. Other allergies are mild and annoying, such as hay fever.
Food allergies are also very common. The most common allergenic foods are wheat and dairy. By dairy we mean all products made from cow’s milk. Goat’s milk is less allergenic, as some suspect it is more similar in molecular structure to human’s milk, and therefore easier to digest. Try substituting rice milk or coconut milk for dairy, and use feta cheese or goat’s yogurt instead of cow’s milk.
Food allergies are very difficult to diagnose, as the reaction might not show up until 72 hours later. For example, you eat wheat toast on Monday, and then get a headache Thursday…you might not immediately suspect that wheat is the problem. So the best way to find out if you have food allergies, is first to catalog all the signs and symptoms you currently have, and see if any of the them might be related to food allergies. The second thing to do is an elimination diet. During the diet you will eliminate all allergenic foods, and then keep a record of what signs and symptoms change and get better after elimination. After that you can do a food challenge and see which foods are causing your problems. You can find a good introductory article on the allergy avoidance diet here.
To learn more about how Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help your allergies, whether food allergies or rhinitis or sinusitis, simply call for your free consultation: (828) 254-4405.
© James Whittle M.S. L.Ac.