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Acupuncture & Allergies

Every year, the spring brings us April showers, May flowers...and a Titanic's load of pollen!

Spring is the season when many plants start to bloom and release pollen into the air, which can trigger allergies in some people. The amount of pollen in the air can vary depending on the type of plants in the area and the weather conditions, such as wind and rain.

This year has been exceptionally riddled with pollen, in large part due to the warmer weather in February causing a lot of the trees in the area to bloom early. The warm weather starting in February also means that we're currently experiencing a longer spring allergy season.

Warm weather in early spring can cause trees and plants to start blooming earlier than usual, which can lead to a longer allergy season. This means that people who are allergic to pollen may experience symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes for a longer period of time. In addition, warmer temperatures can also cause plants to produce more pollen, which can lead to higher pollen counts and more severe allergy symptoms for some individuals.

Drastic temperature changes can also have an impact on allergies in a few different ways. (Does anyone remember when it went from 60 to 90 and back down to 60 a few weeks ago?) When the temperature changes rapidly, it can cause plants to release more pollen into the air, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people. In addition, sudden shifts in temperature can also weaken the immune system, making it more susceptible to allergens.

For example, when there is a sudden drop in temperature, it can cause a person's nasal passages to become dry and irritated, which can make it easier for allergens to enter the body and trigger an allergic reaction. On the other hand, sudden warm spells can cause plants to bloom earlier than usual, leading to a longer allergy season.

Overall, people with allergies should be aware of the potential impact of drastic temperature changes on their symptoms and take appropriate measures to manage their allergies during times of fluctuating weather, such as monitoring pollen counts, using allergy medication as needed, and avoiding outdoor activities during times of high pollen counts or extreme temperature changes.

Of course, there are some other ways to address allergy issues. One way is through acupuncture. I'll explain how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can help with allergies, as well as write down some of the things that I do during the spring to help minimize the effects of pollen on my sinus system!

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to treating allergies by addressing the underlying imbalances in the body that lead to allergic reactions. According to TCM theory, allergies are caused by an imbalance in the body's immune system, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including diet, stress, and environmental factors.

TCM treatments for allergies typically involve a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary and lifestyle changes. Acupuncture is believed to help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body, while herbal medicine is used to support the body's natural healing processes and strengthen the immune system.

There are certain acupuncture points used to both tonify (or strengthen) our respiratory system as well as some points to help clear out any allergens that may have gotten in to our sinus and/or respiratory system. For example, points ST 3, LI 20 and BL 2 are great for opening up the sinus system and expelling allergens (or any pathogens in general that seem to be stuck in the sinus system). While you can't needle these points yourself, a quick Google of the above points can allow you to utilize acupressure to help open up your sinus system at home!

Points for stress can also be utilized, as an increase in stress can worsen the severity of allergies. The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to be stressed.

In addition, dietary and lifestyle changes are often recommended to help reduce allergen exposure and support overall health. This may include avoiding certain foods that can aggravate allergies, such as dairy and wheat, and incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into the diet, such as fruits and vegetables. In TCM, we really discourage the consumption of dairy as we believe it leads to the formation of phlegm. If you are already suffering from an accumulation of phlegm from outdoor allergens, why create more?

In addition to acupuncture, here are some of the things that I do at home to help reduce the effect of pollen on my respiratory system:

  1. Take off shoes when entering the house

  2. Keep the pajamas for the bedroom; if you like to change into something comfortable in the evening, make sure that anything that touches your bed does NOT touch anything else, i.e. the couch. This can bring allergens into the bedroom.

  3. Shower in the evening; this will help to rinse off any allergens that may have gotten onto you during the day

  4. Keep an air purifier on in the bedroom. The bedroom is the MOST important room in your house to keep clear of allergens as this is where we spend most of our time.

  5. Use a saline nasal spray morning and night to help flush any allergens that may be hanging out

  6. Use of herbs for strengthening the respiratory system and mitigating overreactions by our immune system, such as stinging nettle, bromelain and quercetin. Please not that when it comes to the use of herbs and/or herbal formulas, it is best to check in with a licensed acupuncturist to make sure these herbs are best for you and your allergy symptoms.

  7. Appreciate the rain when it comes! This helps to flush that pollen away - at least for a little bit!

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