People who suffer from allergies know that hayfever season has arrived. If your nose has gotten stuffy or runny, and your eyes are feeling itchy and watery, you are likely having an over-reaction to the pollen that is in the air. Allergies are a response by the body’s immune system to antigens found in the environment. The body responds too well, causing all that congestion and itching. There are two main types of allergies, Seasonal and Perennial. Seasonal allergies, also called hayfever, tend to occur in Spring and early Summer, and are a reaction mainly to pollen and grasses. Perennial allergies occur all year and are typically a reaction to animal dander, house dust or dust mites, fungus, smoke or perfume. Both cause much suffering.
The Cause of Allergies
In Chinese Medicine, the reason for both types of allergies is a deficiency of the body’s Wei Qi, also called Defensive Qi. This Qi is like a protective layer at the surface of the body that prevents things from getting into the body, whether it be bacteria, viruses, or allergens. In order to treat allergies with Chinese Medicine we must build up the body’s own protective Qi as well as treat the symptoms that allergy sufferers know so well.
When to Treat Allergies
For Seasonal allergies, the best time to treat the underlying deficiency is at the end of the season of suffering, typically August, September and October. If you are suffering from a stuffy nose and watery eyes right now, see your acupuncturist to get temporary relief of those symptoms, and then even though you may be feeling free of symptoms, continue with treatment in the fall in order to prevent those allergies from returning next year. For Perennial allergies, treatment can take place at anytime.
Herbs to Treat Allergies
In addition to acupuncture, there are a number of Chinese Herbal formulas which allergy sufferers can rely on. Most likely, your practitioner will give you one formula for the symptoms you are experiencing now, and then change that formula to treat the root of the problem once those symptoms subside. If you have been experiencing allergies for many years, it can take more than one treatment season to be allergy free. Your practitioner may advise you to take that Wei Qi building formula for a few seasons in a row in order to be rid of allergies forever.
Sinus Rinsing for Relief from Nasal Congestion
The Neti Pot or a modern Sinus Rinse can also be helpful to clear nasal congestion. Used every day these tools open the nasal passages by clearing out bacteria and allergens, and calming inflamation of nasal tissues. Using the Neti Pot takes practice but once mastered, allergy sufferers swear by it. It involves irrigating the nostrils with a salt water mixture using a small pot with a spout, not unlike a watering can. It has a long history of use in Asia, although modern plastic squirt bottles may be easier to use and can be bought for pennies at drug stores.