Treating Hay Fever with Traditional Chinese Medicine
More than 50 million Americans suffer from various types of allergies. That means one out of five! Of these 50 million sufferers, 35 million or 17% of the population have allergic rhinitis, more popularly known as hay fever. Allergic rhinitis is the single most common chronic disease experienced by Americans. What is even more shocking is that the occurrence of allergies in developed countries is sharply on the rise, and Western scientists don’t know why.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever is essentially a mistaken immune system reaction to airborne particles, which normally do not cause the body any trouble. These particles may be pollen, animal dander, dust, mold, or insects and their feces. Most people inhale these without a problem.
People with allergies inhale these and the body reacts as if it were being invaded by a pathogen. There is sneezing, runny nose, red, itchy, watering eyes, headache & even asthmatic contraction of the bronchioles of the lungs leading to panting, wheezing & coughing.
Western medicine treats hay fever and other respiratory allergies by a combination of antihistamines and decongestants. Although the side effects of these Western drugs are less than they used to be, many patients do not want to stay on such drugs for long periods of time. Happily, Chinese medicine provides a time-tested alternative to Western drugs when it comes to the treatment of hay fever and other allergies.
How Does Chinese Medicine Treat Hay Fever?
Based on the individualized pattern diagnosis, the practitioner will craft a personalized treatment plan encompassing all aspects of the patient’s life.
In general, sufferers of hay fever exhibit a pattern of spleen weakness with excessive phlegm and dampness leading to problems with their lung function. Depending on the individual, this basic scenario may also be accompanied by kidney weakness, liver stagnation, liver-gallbladder-stomach heat, & other related patterns of disharmony. Chinese medicine treats the root. When it comes to hay fever, Chinese medicine treatment is divided into two stages. During the acute attack, your practitioner will primarily try to alleviate your discomfort, using safe and simple natural therapies. In between attacks, they will primarily focus on the root cause of your imbalance. During this stage of treatment, no matter whether your practitioner primarily uses acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine or some combination of both, they will try to help you identify and eliminate the root imbalance, which is causing hay fever.
Hay Fever & Diet
Because Chinese medical practitioners believe that in most cases, the cause of hay fever is spleen weakness with too much dampness and phlegm lodging in the lungs, dietary therapy typically plays a large part in patients’ overall treatment plan. In particular, they are advised to stay away from or minimize sugars and sweets, fruit juices, dairy products, nuts and oils, and chilled, uncooked foods. Although other factors, such as exercise and stress, play a part in many people’s hay fever, modification of one’s diet is usually the cornerstone of the Chinese medical treatment plan.
Happily, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine make such dietary changes easier to implement.