Here in the Triangle, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’ve probably already started to notice that familiar tickle in your nose and throat that signals the arrival of spring pollen. Maybe you’ve been sneezing, have been mildly congested or had a runny nose, or perhaps you’ve even noticed some mild burning of your eyes or itchiness of your skin. All these symptoms, from a Chinese medical point of view, point to the climactic influence of the spring season – wind.
Chinese medicine views seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms as being primarily caused by the pathogenic influence of wind. Wind is qualified by symptoms that occur quickly, are rapidly changeable, affect mostly the upper part of the body, and occur at a very surface level – for example, mucous membranes and skin. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, those of us with underlying deficiencies, often of the spleen, kidney, or lung, are especially susceptible to invasion by wind, and, therefore, conditions like seasonal allergies.
Luckily, there are many natural options to help relieve allergy symptoms. One of the best choices for effective and side effect free treatment is acupuncture. Acupuncture works incredibly well because it not only relieves current symptoms, but also balances the immune system and corrects underlying deficiencies to help prevent symptoms from recurring. Regular treatments are most effective during allergy season, ideally starting acupuncture therapy a few weeks before symptoms hit their peak.
Chinese herbal medicine is another very effective choice, and can be combined with acupuncture for faster results. One of the most basic formulas used during allergy season is Jade Windscreen (Yu Ping Feng San). This formula is incredibly simple and elegant, comprised of only three herbs – one that expels wind (Ledeboureilla root), one that supports the lung system (Astragalus root), and one that supports the spleen system (Atractylodes). The simplicity of this formula also makes it highly adaptable for each individual patient’s presentation.
Using a neti pot can also be of great help during allergy season. Nasal irrigation with saline can be extremely effective at washing allergens out of the nasal passageways and preventing an immune response. Additionally, the saline helps to moisturize the nasal membranes and control swelling. Goldenseal and/or grapefruit seed extract are great additions to the traditional saline wash.
Supplements can also be of great support to your system this time of year. Quercitin can help to normalize the histamine reaction, Bromelain thins mucous and reduces nasal passage swelling and inflammation, and good quality probiotics help to normalize large intestine and gut function and, therefore, support the immune system as a whole.
Remember, there’s no reason to suffer this season. Try some of the many natural options available to you to find relief from allergy symptoms!