Allergies
341 Case Studies
152 Member Stories
67 Research

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture was created by traditional Chinese medical practitioners to deal with a wide selection of health issues. Widely used in the East, it has slowly gained acceptance by medical professionals in the West. Acupuncture has become commonly used as a treatment for everything from pain, anxiety, and nausea. Lesser-known uses, like the treatment of allergies, are also gaining popularity.

History of Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient practice that began in what is now China. It is based on the belief that life energy, known as qi, pronounced "chee," flows through the body along pathways termed meridians. Trained practitioners can reestablish the flow of energy to get rid of pain and other disorders by inserting thin needles at acupuncture points.

Western medicine does not accept the standard explanation of acupuncture's mechanism of action. No signs that meridians exist have been recorded by contemporary science. Despite ongoing questions concerning how it works, science has revealed that it does work, at least in some cases. Pain relief is one specific example. Controlled clinical trials have demonstrated that acupuncture may relieve pain, sometimes better than medication, in conditions such as migraines, neck pain, chronic lower back pain, and postoperative pain.

See: 20 Years of Sinus Allergy Treated with Acupuncture and Naturopathy

Acupuncture view of allergies

Traditional Chinese medicine views springtime allergies related to the element of wind. As in most TCM, allergies have been looked on as being caused by an imbalance in qi flow. In cases like this, it's thought to be a blockage of qi into the nose and sinuses. TCM calls for allergies," bi yuan," which literally translates to "nose-pool." Bi yuan comes from a lack in Wei qi -- the inner force that protects us from the end.

TCM practitioners will usually wish to deal with allergies by using all of the areas that strengthen qi, such as herbs, acupuncture, qigong, etc. However, Chinese herbs have been used for centuries for the treatment of springtime allergies. There are lots of herbs for use. Some herbs are known to wash phlegm while others can relieve coughs, and alleviate itchy and red eyes. Therefore, TCM practitioners will often make their own mix of herbal medicines, some held in strict confidence, based on the signs of the individual.

See: Food allergy diet

Traditional Chinese medicine herbs for allergies

Herbs that have been used to deal with springtime allergies from both TCM physicians and Western herbalists include:

- Quercetin herbal extract has been shown to be a natural antihistamine

- Butterbur has been demonstrated in some studies to be as effective as prescription antihistamines without the side effect of nausea. However, caution is advised if you've got a known ragweed allergy, as butterbur is of the same household, and if taken, it'll worsen, not relieve your symptoms.

- Euphrasia Officinalis (eyebright) and Scutellaria (Chinese skullcap) -- have been used to effectively treat the symptoms of hay fever -- notably the congestion and watery eyes.

- The catechins in green tea also have been demonstrated to have an antihistamine effect, and drinking green tea together with all its wonderful medicinal properties can alleviate the signs of springtime allergies.

The most common Chinese medicine herbs used for the treatment of allergies include one or combinations of:

- Angelica dahurica, Xin Yi Hua (magnolia blossom buds), and Xanthium sibiricum to dry phlegm and mucus.

- Schizonepeta tenuifolia, Japanese catnip,  and Fang Feng, Siler divaricata -- thought to dispel wind.

Along with the herbs above, Chinese herbal formulas occasionally control springtime allergies, including Cnidium, trichosanthes, bupleurum, platycodon, and mentha.

A blend of Chinese herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions is a helpful method of relieving the symptoms and might help prevent allergies altogether. Allergies occur when your immune system misidentifies something benign, such as germs, and mounts a defense against it by getting inflamed and producing mucus. Practitioners of Chinese medicine are educated to independently diagnose each patient's allergies, searching for a disharmony pattern, which has led to symptoms. We start by dividing the root of the issue from its branch. The origin of the issue is the situation within the body that resulted in the allergy happening. The division is only an allergy symptom. Once a clear image emerges of a person's unique combination of symptoms, a specific treatment program is tailored for that situation. The healing program generally involves a weekly acupuncture treatment, a daily herbal formula, lifestyle, and diet changes.

See: Ayurvedic herbs for allergies remedies

Acupuncture for allergies research

What about using acupuncture to treating eczema and other skin allergies? Preliminary research suggests that acupuncture can help eczema and allergy symptoms. If you are interested in acupuncture treatment, begin by talking to your physician.

Researchers in Berlin conducted a large, multi-center study of the efficacy of acupuncture for treating seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. The analysis divided 422 individuals into three groups for two weeks: one group received acupuncture treatment, the next received "fake" acupuncture, with needles placed in arbitrary, meaningless spots in their bodies. The third group just took antihistamines. After the analysis, the group receiving acupuncture treatment reported greater relief from symptoms than the other two groups.

The group receiving the sham acupuncture treatment also reported relief of the symptoms, although not as much as the group receiving acupuncture. Furthermore, four weeks later, as a follow-up, the gap between the potency of the real and fake acupuncture therapy groups was less conspicuous. This outcome implies a placebo effect might have taken place with all the people undergoing acupuncture, in anticipation of its beneficial results.

Researchers in another study were unable to support or disprove the use of acupuncture as a treatment for hay fever.

Additional studies have looked at the efficacy of acupuncture atopic dermatitis treatment. Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is an itchy rash that can be brought on by irritants like lotions or soaps. The studies found that acupuncture significantly reduced itchiness in certain patients. They noted that preventative acupuncture didn't work in addition to concurrent acupuncture.

At a review of published trials, researchers concluded that there is some evidence that acupuncture is cost-effective and beneficial as an additional treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis. However, at this moment, there's insufficient evidence to conclude that acupuncture is effective as a standalone therapy. This conclusion echoes what other scientists that have previously reviewed the present evidence have determined. So while the study results are promising, current evidence is mixed, at best. More studies are also needed to assess acupuncture as a treatment of psoriasis.

See: Successful Control of Allergies with Acupuncture

How is acupuncture for allergies different?

Western medicine has several methods of handling allergy symptoms. Doctors may stop your body's overreaction by prescribing antihistamines like Benadryl or drugs that act on the nervous system such as Albuterol. They could address inflammation by providing you with cortico-steroids like Prednisone, and they are able to relieve sinus pressure by prescribing decongestants like Sudafed. All these drugs can deal with a branch of the issue, the allergy symptoms. However, many have side effects, including nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and an over-suppression of the immune system. Western medicine can be quite useful, and people must follow their physician's advice. However, many get frustrated because the drugs only work while they're taking them and do little to fix the underlying problem.

So what's the underlying problem? Why is it that some people overreact to everyday irritants? The most common pattern that TCM sees is weak lung and spleen qi. Lung qi is the way we describe the purpose of the whole respiratory tract, including the nasal passages. So feeble lung qi refers to a respiratory tract that's underperforming. Spleen qi is a means of describing how the digestive tract is involved with the metabolism of fluids. Weak spleen qi implies poor digestive function, which may result in an overproduction of mucus, which tends to accumulate in the lungs. A consultation with a trained acupuncturist and herbalist can help to identify unique issues.

Chinese medicine sees allergy symptoms as related to wind and moisture. The wind is how Chinese medicine describes our susceptibility to external influences such as an allergen, and moist describes mucus buildup in the uterus, the lungs, and the digestive tract. A good herbalist will consider everything.  A herbal formulation will be developed that addresses all elements of the allergy against the inherent weakness. These formulations target irritating symptoms like itchy eyes and runny nose.

Acupuncture can provide allergy relief for many. By inserting small hair-like needles around the nose and sinuses, acupuncturists can stop sneezing and alleviate congestion. There are points on the feet that may soothe red and itchy eyes to calm an overactive immune system.

See: Homeopathy For Nasal Allergies

Acupuncture remedies for allergies

Other remedies for allergies

Weekly acupuncture treatment from a skilled acupuncturist can help. Attempt to begin before allergy season to deal with the origin of the allergies before they kick. A specially tailored Chinese herbal formulation can address both the origin of the allergies in your specific case in addition to the specific symptoms that you suffer from.

- If you experience congested sinuses, try cutting back on dairy products, which may lead to mucus development in some people.

- Wheat can make inflammation worse, so it is well worth limiting it if you're having an allergy attack.

- Include foods in your diet rich in Vitamin C. This is a natural antihistamine and may be found in citrus fruits,  spinach, strawberries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, melon, and cabbage.

- Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that supports the respiratory system. Try to increase your beta-carotene intake by ingesting orange and yellow fruits, including orange root vegetables such as carrots and yams, mangoes and papayas,  and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale.

- Allergies have been tied to low levels of magnesium in clinical research. Raise your magnesium by adding sunflower seeds, spinach, chard, salmon, and sesame seeds in your diet.

- Quercetin is an antioxidant that's high in bioflavonoids. It also has an antihistamine effect and additionally reduces inflammation. Get more quercetin by eating onions, tomatoes, red grapes, apples, and leafy green vegetables.

See: Nasal specific technique as part of a chiropractic approach to chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches.

References

1. Adam, Daniela, Linus Grabenhenrich, Miriam Ortiz, Sylvia Binting, Thomas Reinhold, and Benno Brinkhaus. "Impact of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis: secondary analysis of results from a randomized controlled trial." Acupuncture in Medicine (2018): acupmed-2017, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. 

2. Reinhold, Thomas, Stephanie Roll, Stefan N. Willich, Miriam Ortiz, Claudia M. Witt, and Benno Brinkhaus. "Cost-effectiveness for acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis: economic results of the ACUSAR trial." Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 111, no. 1 (2013): 56-63. 

3. Brinkhaus, Benno, Stephanie Roll, Susanne Jena, Katja Icke, Daniela Adam, Sylvia Binting, Fabian Lotz, Stefan N. Willich, and Claudia M. Witt. "Acupuncture in patients with allergic asthma: a randomized pragmatic trial." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 23, no. 4 (2017): 268-277. 

4. ., ., et al. Acupuncture compared with oral antihistamine for type I hypersensitivity itch and skin response in adults with atopic dermatitis - a patient- and examiner-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Allergy. 2012 Apr;67(4):566-73 Pfab FKirchner M. Thttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22313287

5. ., ., et al. (2008, April 28). A systematic review of the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 8, 13 Roberts JHuissoon Ahttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0026027/

6. ., . (2010 October 28). Efficacy, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for allergic rhinitis - An overview of previous and ongoing studies. Auton Neurosci., 157(1-2), 42-5 Witt C. MBrinkhaus Bhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20609633

7. Zheng, X. L., Y. P. Tian, H. Y. Luo, Y. D. Zhao, X. Y. Liu, Y. Jiang, C. X. Ma, M. J. Wang, and M. Liu. "Effect of Warm Acupuncture on the Levels of Serum Immunoglobulin E, Interleukin-1 β, and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α in Rats with Allergic Rhinitis." Zhen ci yan jiu= Acupuncture research 43, no. 1 (2018): 35-38.

See: Acupuncture prices near me

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