Allergies – Allergic Rhinitis

There are many kinds of allergies, all of which relate to an oversensitive and hyper reactive immune system. This underlying condition is treated in Oriental Medicine by regulation and tonifying of the immune system, specifically the Kidney energy and the defensive qi. Of course, immediate symptomatic relief is very important as well, and acupuncture and herbal medicine can be very effective in relieving symptoms during acute allergy attacks, while providing longer-term treatment for the underlying condition when acute symptoms abate. In this section, allergic rhinitis is the specific type of allergy that will be discussed. Symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes and face, and sneezing. This condition may be seasonal or chronic. Seasonal allergies are often related to specific times of year and specific pollens; chronic allergies are considered a more severe condition and may be related to such things as dust mite sensitivities. Food sensitivities may contribute to the problem. Sinusitis is a common and more severe complication of this condition.

In Chinese, the term Bi Yuan is used to refer to a category of illness that includes allergies and sinusitis, as well as some more severe respiratory problems. The historical idea of allergies suggested poetically that the nasal discharge was a flooding from the brain that might be complicated by heat rising from the Gall Bladder to the head. The brain was traditionally considered a part of the system that controls immunity, with the gall bladder having both an emotional and a digestive component. A more modern view of allergies sees a deficiency in the Kidney system, which controls the immune system as well as the basic constitution, and in the Lung system, which is responsible for protecting the body from external invasion of wind and pathogens. The classic diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is chronic wind in the nose.

Causes for allergies include an inherited tendency, poor parental health at the time of conception, poor maternal health during pregnancy, complications of childbirth, and emotional problems. The emotions may be related to specific organ systems:

·         Kidneys: weakened by fear, or by the force of will having no appropriate outlet. In addition, excessive sexual activity weakens the Kidneys and may increase allergy symptoms; this is particularly noticeable in men over 40 years of age.

·         Lungs: weakened by grief or sadness, constant crying, or overuse of the voice; also weakened by colds or flus that do not resolve fully.

·         Liver and Gall Bladder: heat and stagnation build up from anger, frustration, or blockage of expression. The heat may rise to the head, leading to complications such as sinusitis.

·         Stomach and Spleen: weakened by worry and overconcern, increasing phlegm retention. Poor diet, irregular eating, and eating phlegm-producing foods such as dairy may all increase severity of allergy symptoms. Unrecognized food allergies may be a significant cause for allergic symptoms.

Treatment for allergic rhinitis focuses on relieving symptoms during acute allergy attacks and strengthening the Lung and Kidney energy to prevent recurrence. August, September and October are considered particularly auspicious months for allergy treatment. The body is tonified at this time to prevent or reduce allergy symptoms the following year. The treatment principle is to clear wind from the nose – thereby opening the nasal passages, and to tonify the Lungs and Kidneys – thereby regulating the immune response. For many people, five to six acupuncture treatments may produce significant allergy relief over a long period of time. Herbal treatments that may be used include:

Lu Rong, or deer antler – strengthens the body’s defensive energy

Gui Ban or  turtle shell – strengthens essence

Wu Mei and Wu Wei Zi– herbs specific for reducing allergy response

Xin Yi Hua, the magnolia flower bud – powerfully opens the sinuses and expels wind from nose.

If a person is prone to catch colds easily, the patent formula Jade Windscreen can be very helpful if taken over a period a 1 to 2 months. This formula strengthens the lungs’ defensive energy, increasing resistance to disease.

Related topics: Asthma, Food Allergies, Autoimmune diseases