I have the good fortune of having a practice in sunny sub-tropical South Florida. With the abundance of sunshine and a good long soak in the rainy season, we are blessed with an abundance of year-round beauty. The downside to this type of weather leads me to our topic today. In most parts of the country people tend to suffer from seasonal allergies where here in S. Florida, they can be a year round problem. When patients come to me for help with allergies it is because traditional Western Medicine methods have failed them or they are tired of taking pills and or getting shots.
As an Acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), I must address allergies by treating the whole person, focusing on the immune system. Only this way will the patient see substantial long term benefits.
First, we should take a look at what allergies are. Allergies are a misplaced, learned response by the body’s immune system triggered by an allergen like pollen, dust, etc. The immune system rapidly responds with symptoms like itchy eyes and throat, sinus congestion, sneezing, and even diarrhea. On the inside, your body releases massive amounts of antibodies known as mast cells. They reside mostly in our lungs, upper respiratory tract, stomach lining and the skin. Another type of antibody is more common with food reactions. Some people may not be sensitive to a single allergen but if two or more allergens are present, a reaction may be triggered. For example; you have a sensitivity to cows milk and cypress pollen. You drink milk daily without issue. The second cypress pollen is introduced into the mix, you react. Avoiding dairy products (lessening your “allergic load”) during the season for cypress pollen may relieve symptons.
Western therapies that help with allergies are antihistamines (Benadryl, etc.). Asthma type drugs like Albuterol, epinephrine and decongestants. Western medicine also emphasizes avoidance, filters and even desensitization over time by injecting small amounts of the allergen(s). Again, Western Medicine is treating the symptoms of the patient without ever addressing the cause.
An Acupuncturist will look at more deeply rooted signs in each person. Again, the principle is to treat the whole person. Often, a person with chronic allergies will present with spleen or kidney deficiencies as well as lung issues. Here is an example of treatment for “John” who has been suffering with allergies for a month. He hates the drowsy feeling he gets from the medication prescribed by his doctor and wants to try a holistic approach. He had all of the classic symptoms for allergies. After a thorough exam, John and I came up with a specially tailored health plan including a blend of Chinese herbs. I advised John to avoid dairy, excessively sweet products and spicy foods. As John improved I developed a plan to strengthen his immune system in preparation for the next allergy season. Part of the plan was to replace coffee with green tea which is rich in catechins (known for their rich anti-allergy effects.), and quercitin (a bioflavenoid known to stabilize mast cells thus slowing the release of histamines.) John responded very well to his treatments and is now allergy free. He continues to get ongoing wellness treatments as part of a comprehensive health plan specifically tailored to all of my patients based on their needs, lifestyle, etc.
If you are suffering from allergies , another health issue and/or just have questions, you can call my office for a free initial consultation and personalized treatment/wellness plan.