Alleviate Allergies with an Ancient Asian Remedy
It’s spring, which is a good thing. Or is it? For the more than 20 percent of people in the United States who have seasonal allergies, springtime stirs up mixed emotions. The flowers are beautiful; yet the resulting sneezing, wheezing, sniffling and fatigue are less so. And this year, allergy symptoms arose earlier than usual, as the sunshine caused the foliage to release pollen particles into the air in (gasp!) February.
And when pollens fill the air, the next thing that happens is that many allergy sufferers start emptying their pocketbooks. Managing allergy symptoms throughout the spring and summer can be an energy-consuming and often financially-draining endeavor. Sufferers may try using over-the-counter medications, prescription nasal sprays, injections, and a variety of other strategies targeted at reducing exposure to allergens such as mold, dust and pollens. While these measures are effective for some people, others fail to get substantial relief, and yet others prefer to avoid the side-effects of conventional drugs. For these people, natural or “alternative” treatments hold more appeal. One alternative in particular that is gaining in popularity in the U.S. is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Traditional Chinese medicine includes such practices and treatments as acupuncture, herbs, tai chi, qi gong, and Tui Na (Chinese massage). Recently, acupuncture has become more accepted in the United States as an allergy treatment, and scientists are fervently documenting its benefits. In fact, a recent study published in Allergy showed that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine reduced the symptoms of allergies for 85 percent of subjects compared with 40 percent in the placebo group. Twice as many people in the TCM treatment group had no symptoms or only mild symptoms at the end of the study. Although Chinese herbs and acupuncture are often used together, as they were in this study, patients in China often choose either herbs or acupuncture as a stand-alone treatment.
Chinese herbs by themselves haven’t been studied as extensively as acupuncture, but they have a long history of popular usage in Asia. Their specific benefits have been well-catalogued over thousands of years, and each herb has a heat quality and a specific effect on different parts of the body. For instance, some herbs are used to dry phlegm in the nasal passages, some to relieve coughing, and some to alleviate red and itchy eyes. Practitioners also commonly create tailor-made blends to treat a patient’s specific symptoms. But Chinese herbs can do more than treat symptoms—they can also address underlying causes so that allergy treatments and medications are no longer needed.
“If someone has long-term allergies, they should consider a ‘root and branch’ treatment,” says licensed acupuncturist Allen Sayigh, who is also the Chinese herbal dispensary manager at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Treating the “branch” means to treat the symptoms, and treating the “root” means treating the root cause. “To avoid an attack, you should get treatments some months before allergy season to resolve the condition that caused it in the first place,” says Allen. “If someone’s qi (a Chinese term meaning ‘life energy’) is weak or deficient, instead of treating the symptoms, before allergy season we would build up basic qi. Over time we can reduce the severity of the attacks.”
While some of this may sound foreign (because it is!), the results speak for themselves. Some of Sayigh’s patients have reported “very good allergy seasons where they’re not bothered much at all,” he says.
The most effective way to treat allergies is to use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, but herbs can be used by themselves as well. “If someone said they could only do one of the two to treat their allergies, I would unquestionably recommend herbs,” says Sayigh.
To make an appointment for a tailor-made Chinese herbal remedy to help address your allergies and their underlying causes, please call 206.834.4102.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, Staff Writer
Contributor: Allen Sayigh, LAc
Sources: Healthnotes Newswire