Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, headaches, sinus drainage the hallmark signs of seasonal allergies. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available, but do nothing to actually improve one’s overall health or support the immune system in the prevention of allergies, plus they come with a laundry list of negative side effects. Natural remedies such as Acupuncture, however, not only relieve the symptoms of allergies, but they also help enhance and restore balance to the body’s immune system: clearing the underlying condition causing allergies and improving overall health.
The Problem With Antihistamines
The main way most people deal with allergies is with antihistamines. Even though they might turn us into drowsy, dizzy, irritable, dry-mouth’ed zombies, it’s preferable to sneezing our heads off, right? And it’s much better than the itchy, watery eyes, headaches and the itchy roof of the mouth, right? However, there are some pretty nasty side-effects from taking antihistamines – especially if you’re taking them regularly over the long-term. As outlined by Javed Sheikh, M.D., Clinical Director of Allergy research and full-time faculty at Harvard Medical School, the long-term use of antihistamines can lead to a number of lesser-known side effects such as:
- Impairment of cognitive capabilities
- Altered taste and smell
- Lowered libido
- Increased appetite
- Female infertility
- Decreased growth rate in kids
- Increased chance of developing cataracts, osteoporosis and diabetes (from the use of steroid-based creams and allergy medications).
Acupuncture Can Help
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, was a firm believer in the body’s ability to heal itself, saying, “the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” But long before Hippocrates, the ancient Chinese were already practicing what he would later preach, through the art of Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
We know that seasonal allergies occur when, as a result of a over-stressed, hyper-reactive immune system, your body freaks out when exposed to otherwise harmless substances like pollen, dust, pet dander, or certain foods. What most people don’t get is that the problem is NOT the allergen the problem is your stressed-out, over-worked, exhausted immune system. They key in creating a curative possibility in the relief of allergies is not in further suppressing the immune system with drugs (hellooooooo? Anyone else see a problem with that?), it’s in identifying and removing the underlying cause of the over-worked immune system, and then strengthening and re-balancing the system to its optimum state. Acupuncture does exactly that.
Acupuncture can successfully prevent and treat allergies by supporting the body’s ability to heal in general and by re-balancing and improving it’s natural immune function. This is done by stimulating biologically significant points on the body. When the body is functioning from a harmonious, balanced state, health is restored and ALL symptoms disappear the allergies, and many other seemingly unrelated problems you might be experiencing. This is the main benefit of acupuncture: bringing a person into balance so that the body may heal itself of any ailment physically, mentally or emotionally.
So How Does It Work?
Successful Acupuncturists always use a two-pronged approach in treating and preventing your allergies. During the allergy season, when you come in with the typical symptoms- runny nose, watery eyes, and uncontrollable sneezing- the focus of the Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal Medicine will be on relieving the symptoms and helping your body recover by guiding you through dietary and lifestyle changes to remove any factors that are making it harder for your body to defend itself. In between allergy seasons, you would continue to receive Acupuncture and herbal treatments, but this time the emphasis is on treating the root cause of the problem by strengthening the immune system.
Your diagnosis and treatment using Traditional Chinese Medicine is also far more individualized than it would be with Western medicine. When you first and Acupuncturist, he or she will go through a very extensive consultation with you in which you’ll be asked about every aspect of your mental, emotional and physical health. You may find it odd that you’re looking for allergy relief, and yet he/she asking you all about your sleep patterns and bowel movements., but all of that extensive information gathered during your consultation will be used by your Acupuncturist to identify an underlying pattern of disharmony in your body. Seemingly unrelated symptoms and conditions, when looked at holistically, will point to an underlying “root condition,” the correction and re-balancing of which will ultimately be the target of your treatments and lead to the relief of your allergies.
Every person on the planet is different, and we all have a unique reaction to the environment we live in. The beauty of Chinese Medicine as that it treats every person as a unique individual and as a “whole person,” not just a walking meat suit. Acupuncturists aim to help each person restore balance in their body and their life, and since every person is unique, treatment is modified for the right person at the right time.
Check out my recently published article, What To Expect At Your First Acupuncture Treatment.
This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness. For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being. Feel free to visit my website, www.TurningPointAcupuncture.net for more details and direct contact information.