After the long dark months of winter we all look forward to the warmth and colour of springtime. We run out happily into the park to enjoy the beautiful blossoms…and then our eyes begin to smart and we start to sneeze as our hay fever starts to play up! I am glad to say that it doesn’t have to be like this: Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide an evidence based, safe and natural solution to hay fever. In this article we will shine a light on this common condition and explore it from a Western and Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) perspective and provide some advice about how you can keep your hay fever in check – allowing you to enjoy the sunshine and the great outdoors and to live your life to the full.
What is hay fever?
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is a common condition that affects between 10% and 30% of all adults and as many as 40% of children in the UK. It causes cold-like symptoms such as inflammation of the nose, throat and sinuses, runny nose, watery, red or itchy eyes, congestion, coughing, sneezing and pressure in the sinus. This condition can be seasonal – many people experience flare ups in spring and summer when there is more pollen in the air, or it can experienced as a year-round chronic condition.
What are the causes of Hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, dust mites, or particles shed by dogs and cats and other animals. When it is triggered by pollen it is known as pollinosis. An allergic reaction happens when our immune system mistakes a harmless substance for a harmful one, and your body’s immune system starts to over react – flooding your bloodstream with chemicals such as histamine – which triggers a cascade of responses that include the symptoms of hay fever.
Eliminating Heat Toxins:
Recent research has demonstrated that stress can contribute to the severity of flare ups as it causes your immune system to respond in an even more exaggerated way.
Roughly 70% of our immune function takes place within the gut and inflammation and allergies are related to gut health and nutrition. Gut permeability – or leaky gut – can contribute to allergies as it enables larger, partially digested particles of food to pass through the walls of the digestive system which leads to an autoimmune response.
What is Hay Fever From a Chinese Medical Perspective?
Qi & Immunity
There are 3 different sorts of Qi that have a different protective role in our immune system: Wei Qi, Ying Qi and Yuan Qi.
Wei Qi is your outer defence mechanism – a large part of our immune system depends on having strong Wei Qi. Ying Qi relates to the energy we get from nutrition, Yuan Qi relates to the mix of energy that comes from our Kidney which activates the liquids and the provides Vital Essence to our blood. This is essential to keeping our circulation system running on top form.
When our Qi is not functioning at its best we are said to have Qi Deficiency.
This could be caused by a number of factors: Perhaps our outer defences – our Wei Qi – were compromised by excess Cold or Wind. Perhaps we have missed meals or not eaten correctly for a while which has led to damage to our Ying Qi. Perhaps our circulation has been sluggish for a while because we have not been doing enough exercise or because our Kidneys are not working at their best – meaning that we have insufficient Yuan Qi.
“TCM theory views our immune system as protective shield that keeps the cold, excessive heat, wind and illness out. Good health is the result of a strong Vital Energy - or Qi.”Lily Li HuaTCM Specialists, GinSen
Qi & Hay fever
TCM interprets hay fever as the result of an an invasion of Wind-Heat to the Lung. Thus if we are to treat this condition we need to support the Lung Qi to encourage it to expel the excess Wind Heat, and to boost the deficient Qi. This can be achieved through acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that acupuncture treatment is extremely powerful at strengthening the body’s immune system. A recent study demonstrated that people who had acupuncture treatment for hay fever had fewer symptoms and required less medication. There are a number of acupuncture points located all around the body that when treated have a powerful positive effect on our immunity.
Can Acupuncture help hay fever ?
Acupuncture for hay fever is used to reduce unexpected immune responses. It works by making our immune systems not overact to allergens such as hair, dust, and pollen. Western medicine also proves the benefits of using acupuncture, because acupuncture can strongly lower the levels of IgE (Immunoglobulin E) which is an antibody related to allergies and hypersensitivities.
At the same time, acupuncture stimulates the anti-inflammation mechanism in the body without triggering any side effects.
Acupuncture aims to improve a person’s overall well-being, rather than relieving symptoms temporarily, concentrating on the root of the problem. Studies have shown working on hay fever acupuncture points has a superior effect in the reduction of both rhinitis symptoms and the requirement for antiallergic medication. When combined with the use of herbal supplements, the best result can be achieved.
Hayfever Acupressure Point – Massage To Relieve Hayfever
Gall Bladder 20: These points are located on the back of the neck and when they are stimulated they work to expel excess Wind.
Stomach 36: This is a classic acupuncture point which is located on the leg just beneath the knee. Many practitioners will warm this point with a herb called Moxa prior to treatment to maximise the therapeutic effect. Your immune system will breathe a sigh of relief!
Lung 7: This point is located on the arm just past the wrist. It helps to support effective lung function and helps to clear blockages along this channel.
Effective Chinese Herbs for hay fever
There are a number of Herbal formulas in Chinese Medicine for hay fever. Anti-Allergy Rhinitis Tang is an expert blend of herbs that has been formulated to provide relief from hay fever. They unblock the Lung energy channels, boost the immune system, detox excess internal heat and act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Co. Cordyceps is a 3 in 1 natural remedy which is excellent at boosting your immunity. It works to balance our hormones, provides your energy with a boost and also has anti-ageing properties which work to enhance your overall wellbeing.
Sheng Mai Yin Tang is a food supplement that boosts your Vital and Yin energy. In addition to supporting optimum immunity it also helps to with sleep, menopause symptoms, dry cough and hay fever symptoms.
Lifestyle advice to get you back in control of your hay fever
Add some garlic!
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibiotic properties. Try adding this flavoursome ingredient to your evening meal a few times a week.
Don’t forget about ginger
Ginger is a powerful antihistamine and decongestant and provides a great solution when your hay fever symptoms start to play up. Cut up some fresh root ginger and boil it to make a cup of ginger tea. If you add some lemon and honey you will have a delicious and healthy hot drink.
Let’s get walking
We can strengthen our Qi by doing a bit of exercise. A nice brisk walk in fresh air is the simplest solution. This will help to open up our lungs, feeding them with oxygen which in turn will enrich our blood and improve our circulation and indeed boost our mood.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you with hayfever, book your free consultation with our Chinese Medicine experts today
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.