Eastern Medicine and Seasonal Allergies
- Posted on: Apr 19 2018
Spring can be a busy season for acupuncturists who deal with seasonal allergies. Roughly 7.8% of adult population in the U.S. are diagnosed with seasonal allergy according to AAAAI.(American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) In western medicine, the underlying mechanism of allergies involve immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE), part of the body’s immune system, binding to an allergen and then to a receptor on mast cells or basophiles where it triggers the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine. Symptoms of allergy are simply our body’s way of fighting off allergens from invading body system. To control the symptoms, doctors prescribe anti-histamine and different types of steroids and they have proven their effectiveness to a certain extend.
Before explaining eastern medicine’s perspective on seasonal allergy, some concept must be clarified. Through the experience, it was easy to encounter TCM practitioners failed to explain the organ theory to patients and caused un-necessary misunderstandings. When TCM practitioners point out some organ’s energy is weak, it simply means the functionality of the organ is not effective enough. It DOES NOT mean that particular organ is diseased. For example, when TCM doctor mentions deficient liver QI, it means liver’s primary function, which is distribution of energy, is not smooth or weak.
TCM understands allergies from an energy perspective: the problem involves an energy deficiency, which can be related to several organs: the Kidney, Liver, Lung or Stomach. One or more organ’s energy deficiency will manifest in symptoms that are related to organ’s functionality. For example, ancient texts mentioned that health of liver can be judged by health of eyes. Main manifestation of jaundice, which is a liver problem, is yellow eyes. Assuming that liver’s condition manifests in eyes, if your allergy condition affects mostly your eyes, resulting in itchy, red, or watery symptoms, you can be certain that your Liver is not functioning properly. However, a runny or stuffy nose, frequent cough, or tightness in the chest are related to a Lung function disorder.
Acupuncture can aide patients to deal with symptoms of allergies, but why do you have weak functions in organ functions? The question can be answered through ancient classics of eastern medicine.
Ancient folks valued mimicking nature as the right way of life. They observed four seasons complete one cycle and found out each season represents different energy : resting and nourishing in winter, starting in spring, blossom in summer and collecting and conserving in autumn. Seasonal allergy during the spring is considered to be originated during winter. Failure to rest and nourish our energy during winter weakens energy to start and spring up during the spring.
From the prevention point of view, the best way to avoid conventional seasonal allergy symptoms is to conserve energy in the winter. This means making some lifestyle adjustments. Lifestyle changes such as going to bed earlier and limiting outdoor activities during the winter. Dietary change can also have a strong influence. Instead of heavy food with stimulating spices, things that are blend and warm are considered good winter food. Classical Chinese herbs as well as Qigong practice or mediation are very powerful healing tools because they increase and balance your internal energy supply. Making these changes and adding healing support to your daily life can eventually help strengthen your energy and address the root cause of illnesses of seasonal changes.