Do you occasionally experience itchy eyes, an irritated throat, sneezing, and a running nose due to foreign particles (allergens) or weather changes? If so, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine might be a solution to ease these symptoms. Plain allergies, seasonal allergies, hay fever, or asthma are fairly common conditions. Allergic rhinitis can have a debilitating effect on quality of life, both physically and socially. Centre of Balance recommends the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and lifestyle changes to combat allergic rhinitis
How Acupuncture Works to Relieve Allergic Rhinitis
As highlighted above, allergic rhinitis is caused by external factors (allergens). However, acupuncture recognises the contribution of pre-existing deficiencies in the body. In particular, a deficiency of Lung Qi increases susceptibility to allergens in the air. This lung Qi corresponds to the defensive Qi, hence the reduction of general immunity. Blockages in the lung channels lead to the consequent obstruction of the nasal passage. The irregular breathing, red eyes, and stuffy nose experienced after an attack of allergenic rhinitis or strong emotions evidence the strain in the lungs.
Acupuncture, TCM, and healthy lifestyle habits can counter the symptoms of allergic rhinitis by strengthening the lung Qi and the immune system, and stabilising emotions. A variety of scientific studies prove the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating allergic rhinitis. In one 2008 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers studied 5237 respondents and concluded that acupuncture leads to persistent benefits when treating patients with allergic rhinitis.
Asthma is a chronic illness that is characterised by inflammation of the lungs and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. This leads to the characteristic symptoms of asthma such as chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Risk factors for asthma attacks include airborne allergens, emotional distress, smoke, cold air, and physical activity. Although conventional medical treatments are relatively effective at alleviating the symptoms and combating the triggers, studies show that a combination of these pharmaceutical products with acupuncture significantly improves asthma.
Results from a 2007 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that 79% of the respondents recorded an outstanding improvement in their well being. Improvements in their immune systems after clinically testing blood samples supported these responses. Additionally, Suzuki et al. (2006) concluded that acupuncture and oriental medicine reduces dyspnea (difficulty breathing), wheezing, blockage of airways, and the frequency of asthma attacks.
Practitioners at Centre of Balance recommend a few lifestyle practices to lessen the severity of allergic rhinitis and asthma. Some of these habits include maintaining a clean environment free from allergens, keeping warm, choosing a healthy and warm diet, regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking. The importance of eating a healthy diet cannot be stressed enough. According to TCM, phlegm originates from the stomach and is stored in the lungs, hence the need to eat well and maintain a healthy weight.
Joos, S., Schott, C., Zou, H., Daniel, V., & Martin, E. (2007). Immunomodulatory effects of acupuncture in the treatment of allergic asthma: A randomized controlled study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 6(6), 519-525.
Ortiz, C.M. Witt, S. Roll, K. Linde, F. Pfab, B. Niggemann, J. Hummelsberger, A. Treszl, J. Ring, T. Zuberbier, K. Wegscheider, and S.N. Willich (2013). The Effects of Acupuncture on Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(4), I.
Suzuki, M., Namura, K., Egawa, M., & Yano, T. (2006). Effect of acupuncture treatment in patients with bronchial asthma. Zen Nihon Shinkyu Gakkai Zasshi (Journal of the Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), 56, 616-27.