Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Allergy Relief
Allergies are the worst. Some pollen in the air, a visit to your friend with a cat, you forget to dust—and suddenly you’re sneezing, your eyes are itching, your head is pounding, and everything you’re trying to do suddenly becomes 10x harder.
You don’t have to muscle your way through a world of allergens. Our acupuncturists can help alleviate your symptoms and reduce the severity of your reactions to common allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust.
How Traditional Chinese medicine Views Allergies
Allergies are adverse immune reactions to a normally harmless foreign substance. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year, making it the 6th leading cause of disease.
Allergies can be grouped into three basic categories for ease of explanation:
Most allergies we treat with Chinese Medicine are airborne allergies or seasonal allergies. These types of reactions usually affect the sinuses and can cause congestion, sneezing, headaches, sore throat, and ear congestion.
The body’s immune system treats an allergen as a foreign substance. In response to this, the body will then make very large amounts of immunoglobulin E (IgE). These IgE are antibodies that bind to mast cells (a type of blood cell). This process and the release of histamines causes inflammation. That inflammation leads to all of the symptoms you experience with allergies.
Read on to learn more about Allergies, their causes, and our evidence-based approach to helping you find relief from your allergy symptoms using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. You’ll also find some typical treatment plans for treating allergies.
Natural Remedies for Allergies
You are unique, and you have a unique constitution. We’ll customize your treatment plan to get you feeling better as fast as possible! Allergies can make you miserable, but we have an arsenal of TCM tools including acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, herbal medicine, and nutritional support that can help you feel better.
Acupuncture for Allergies
Acupuncture helps strengthen your immune system and helps regulate your immune response to allergens. This can help alleviate allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, fatigue, headache, and post nasal drip. Some allergy medications have side-effects such as making you feel sleepy or dizzy. With a non-pharmacological approach to allergies, you can avoid those unwanted side-effects, but still get allergy symptom relief.
Can Acupuncture Help with Allergies?
Yes! Acupuncture does a great job in treating seasonal or all year around chronic allergies. Everyone’s allergy problems are unique, and our acupuncturists will help determine the root cause of your allergies. We’ll work with you to treat both the acute presenting symptoms and also strengthen your immune system to better manage the symptoms.
How Does Acupuncture Help Allergies?
Acupuncture strengthens your immune system and alleviates common systems such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and headaches. We will work on strengthening your body’s defense or what we call Wei Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Think of Wei Qi as your first hand protection against environmental pollutants and stressors. Along with strengthening your Wei Qi, we also treat the whole body and address underlying causes that contribute to a weak Wei Qi.
For example, if a patient is prone to water accumulation, what we refer to as Dampness in Chinese Medicine, we would work on alleviating the dampness using acupuncture and herbs and this in turn would have an effect on the Wei Qi.
Acupuncture Points for Allergies
Great acupuncture points for allergies include local points and distal points. Local points are great for alleviating sinus congestion, headaches, and other acute presentations. Distal points are great for addressing the whole body and work in tandem with the local points creating holistic and balanced care.
Chinese Herbal Medicine for Allergies
All our acupuncturists are also board certified herbalists and will work with you to determine what Chinese Herbal Formulas best address your symptoms. Common herbs usually found in allergy herbal prescriptions include Cang Er Zi (xanthium fruit) and Xin Yin Hua (magnolia flower), which are great at unblocking the sinus passages. Other medicinals are included in the prescriptions and target other specific symptoms.
Cupping for Allergies
Cupping is a great modality for allergies. Flash, moving, and stationary cupping are wonderful modalites for allergies. Cupping moves stagnant blood as well as cellular waste up to the surface of the skin to be discarded. By encouraging better circulation, Cupping strengthens the body’s ability to respond to outside stressors in an energy-efficient way and enables better signaling for the body’s immune responses.
Gua Sha for Allergies
Gua Sha creates friction on the body’s superficial surface and relieves tension which allows for the Wei Qi to move smoothly and freely. Strengthening Wei QI is important in Allergies as they are the first responders to the outside world. Gua Sha, like cupping, promotes circulation, which enables better and localized response by your immune system.
Nutrition and Allergies
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our acupuncturists typically put a stronger emphasis on seasonal and airborne allergies than food allergies. We will, however, refer you to a specialist and support you getting a diagnosis if we suspect food allergies are at play. We also have some really helpful elimination diets we can recommend and support you through that informal process of diagnosing an allergen or intolerance.
We can also recommend dietary changes that can help you feel better when it comes to seasonal allergies. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory. By doing this, you can lessen your overall histamine response and hopefully feel better. Ginger, bee pollen, and local raw honey are foods that may alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms.
How Can Nutrition Help Treat Someone with Food Allergies?
The first step is to figure out if something you eat is causing some of your symptoms and inflammation in your system. In order to do this, we will sometimes recommend an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a way to discontinue eating something we think could be causing your symptoms. You typically avoid it for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce that food and monitor symptoms. Sometimes we will also refer you to a specialist to help make this diagnosis.
How Do Food Allergies Affect Nutritional Health?
When someone has a food allergy, they might feel like they have fewer options in terms of what they can eat. It’s really important to work with someone who can give you ideas, recipes, and meal plans to help replace what you’ve lost so that your overall nutritional health doesn’t suffer. It’s important to make sure that even when cutting things out, you are still nourished.
TCM Allergy Treatment Plan
Our acupuncturists will make treatment plans based on your specific health history and diagnosis. Your body and discomfort level will help guide us on how often you need treatment. However, the following will give you some idea of what to expect:
For general seasonal allergies, you can expect to get treatments weekly for 4 weeks then we will reassess. You will likely be treated with acupuncture, cupping, and possibly an herbal prescription. For milder allergies, acupuncture and cupping are often sufficient for treatment. For more serious symptoms we usually recommend herbs and other lifestyle or diet modifications.
After the initial treatment plan, our acupuncturists will reassess with you and develop an ongoing treatment plan, which often calls for coming in once or twice a month, depending on your symptoms. If you decide to take herbs, we’ll maintain your prescription in between treatments. Once your allergies are resolved or are more manageable, you can pause treatment and come back if you have a flare-up. For patients who have allergies during a specific season, we usually recommend starting treatment before the season starts and adjusting treatment accordingly throughout.
Your Acupuncture Treatment Plan
Your journey to better health begins before you step through our doors. You'll be able to easily schedule an appointment online as well as fill out your health history form before you arrive at our office—maximizing conversational and treatment time with your acupuncturist.
At your first appointment, your acupuncturist will discuss your health history, get input from you on what your treatment goals are, and develop a treatment plan. They'll then treat you using whatever services are best suited to your specific symptoms.
Although plans vary depending on the patient, most typically run for four weeks. At the end of your first visit, your acupuncturist will give you a written treatment plan. At subsequent visits, you'll discuss your symptoms and whether they've improved, regressed, or stayed the same. Your acupuncturist will adjust the treatment plan based on your input and their ongoing diagnosis of your condition.
When your main complaint is resolved, you can reduce treatment or work on another symptom. Still thinking it over? Take a look at our Testimonials page to see what other patients are saying.
If allergies have you feeling miserable, then let’s get you feeling better!
You don’t have to always scramble away from a cat or dread going outside in the spring. Acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, nutrition support, and Chinese herbal medicine can help you reduce the severity of your allergies and live your life the way you want.
Ready to experience this for yourself? Head to our Booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. We’re in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross, Aetna, and the VA Community Choice Network.
The Cherry Blossom Team