It's nearly spring and the seasonal changes really have started to affect us. Some people may experience nasal congestion and runny nose while others get itchy eyes and headaches. Whatever the seasonal changes may be, they surely are undesirable. Considering the clinical presentations in Chinese medicine, we not only focus on the branch symptoms but also the root cause is managed. Are you wondering what is meant by the root cause of the symptoms? It's the pollen isn't it? Well, sort of.
Pollen versus Your Immune System
Certainly, pollen can be a trigger and root cause for many but immune system’s response to it matters a lot. When your immune system detects pollen, it causes the production of antibodies to fight with the allergen. These antibodies lead to a couple of events, resulting in appearance of branch symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and/or chest tightness. Sure, you can take over the counter medications to help alleviate symptoms, but what can you do to address the root...the immune response.
In Chinese medicine we use acupuncture and herbal medicine to regulate the immune system response.
How Do Acupuncture & Herbs Help?
When acupuncture needles are placed at specific points on the body, they "down regulate" pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases regulatory T cell count. This means that acupuncture can mitigate unwanted or overreactive immune response like you experience in seasonal allergies
Down regulating cytokines helps reduce the inflammation that causes headache and congestion.High T cell count brings about immune response in your body.
This is how acupuncture can be used to make an impact on the root cause of allergies. By addressing the root, acupuncture addresses the symptoms as well. Acupuncture can help open up the sinuses, promote thinning of congestion, and reduce other inflammatory responses such as red and itchy eyes.
Herbs can play a roll in supporting this process too. Astragalus (Huang Qi), used often in treatment of allergies, has an immune regulating function. In Chinese Medicine theory, it has the function of strengthening the lung Qi and enhancing the body's response to stress through its role as an adaptogen. In this way, it effects the root cause of allergies. We also have herbs like Xanthium Seed (Cang Er Zi) which has a primary use of addressing the nasal congestion, runny nose and headaches that come with allergies.
At the clinic, our favorite approach for addressing seasonal changes is a combination of acupuncture, DAO Labs Immunity Support, and nutrition evaluation and modification.