Respiratory Allergies and Acupuncture

By: Lynn Jaffee

What are respiratory allergies?

Allergies are essentially an immune response to airborne particles that normally don’t cause the body any trouble. These particles can be anything from plant pollens to animal dander, dust, mold, or even insects and their feces. For most people inhaling these particles don’t cause a problem. For people with allergies, their bodies react as though they were being invaded by pathogens. The result is runny nose, eye irritation, sneezing, headaches, and in some people, asthma.

How are Respiratory Allergies treated differently in Traditional Chinese Medicine than in modern medicine?

Within the framework of modern medicine, respiratory allergies are treated through a combination of anti-histamines and decongestants. These drugs have changed over the years, and their side effects have decreased, many people don’t want to take these drugs long term. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, respiratory allergies are considered an indicator that an underlying imbalance exists. Treatment is focused on correcting the imbalance, or the source of the problem, not just treating the outward symptoms.

What exactly is out of balance?

Any of the factors may cause an imbalance, including poor diet, stress, weak constitution, or environmental toxins and pollutants. These stressors on the body can affect the functions of the organ systems and weaken the body’s Wei Qi. The concept of Wei Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine is similar to the function of the immune system. Wei Qi encompasses the exterior of the body and works to protect the body from outside pathogens that can cause illnesses like the common cold, flu, and allergies. When Wei Qi is weakened, the body becomes more susceptible to foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, and more importantly to things like pollen, animal dander, mold, dust, etc.

In addition, some people who suffer from respiratory Allergies may exhibit a pattern of Spleen weakness. When the Spleen is weak, the body is unable to adequately transform food and drink into the proper nutrients that the body needs. When the food we eat isn’t properly transformed, dampness and phlegm tend to accumulate, ultimately affecting the function of the lung.

How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Treat Respiratory Allergies?

A practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine will take a complete health history and develop a treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, constitution, and history. The goals of your treatment plan will be to alleviate symptoms and correct the source of the problem, the underlying imbalance. Your practitioner may use a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes. When performed by a Licensed Acupuncturist, acupuncture is safe. It is also a natural, drug-free, and effective way to address respiratory allergies.

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