Those with allergies suffer many unpleasant symptoms. Luckily, Chinese medicine offers effective relief for allergic rhinitis, including nasty symptoms like itchy, red, watery eyes, digestive disturbances, itchy throat or skin, congestion, postnasal drip, and sneezing.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are a great example of a misplaced immune response.

Exposure to allergens elicits the release of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These are what cause the body to react to substances such as pollen, animal dander, and fungus. They are also involved in the allergic reactions some people have to milk and certain medications.

Unsurprisingly, IgE antibody levels are often high in people with allergies.

IgE antibodies attach to white blood cells known as mast cells, which are mostly located in the lungs, upper respiratory tract, stomach lining, and skin. When these cells are stimulated, they release histamines, which produce those pesky allergic symptoms.

Generally, Western medicine relies on inhibiting the allergic response with drugs like antihistamines, such as Chlor-trimetron and Benadryl. Other medications like Albuterol, Prednisone, and decongestants, which are also used to treat allergies and asthma, act on the nervous system.

In Chinese medicine, the goal is to address the patient’s acute symptoms and provide relief, while addressing the underlying imbalance. Treatments often include acupuncture, dietary suggestions, herbal formulas, and cupping.

Specific acupuncture points can bring quick relief, opening up the sinuses, reducing inflammation, and relieving congestion.

Regular treatment can calm the histamine reaction, strengthen the immune system, balance the body, and often dramatically decrease the unpleasant symptoms.

Chinese herbal medicine and cupping are also wonderful for allergies. Chinese herbs can help decrease or eliminate allergies without the side effects some people experience when they take allergy medications. Cupping helps to clear excess phlegm in the lungs and pulls excess heat and toxins from the body while relieving tension.

Allergic rhinitis is one of my favorite things to treat. In the short term, many patients get quick relief from allergic symptoms. In the long term, allergic reactions are reduced, colds and sinus infections are less frequent, and the patient’s overall health improves.

Jennifer Dubowsky is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in Chicago and author of “Adventures in Chinese Medicine.” For more information, visit TCM007.com

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