Summer season is upon us and with that comes hay fever and seasonal allergy attacks. Contrary to popular belief, pollen, dust, and other irritants do not cause seasonal allergies. In fact, outside elements do not cause seasonal allergies at all. Our own reactive immune system is responsible for all the telltale signs of seasonal allergies.
A reactive immune system would falsely identify a normally harmless substance into a threat. These substances include pollen, dander, dust mites and certain foods. When exposed to these irritants, an inflammatory reaction occurs to eject the substance from the system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), allergies are caused by disharmonious patterns within the body. The wind, together with various pathogens, is part of the diagnosis. A combination of environmental and internal factors could lead to the onset of symptoms: watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, hives, and runny nose.
Treating Seasonal Allergies with Herbs
In TCM, medicinal herbs are a major factor in healing. And to treat allergies, one has to consider the kind of herbs that repel the wind. Below are the most common herbs used in TCM to relieve seasonal allergies:
Japanese Catnip or Jing Jie
This herb eliminates the dampness in the air. It relieves itchiness within the nasal passages and minimizes inflammation or irritation in the sinuses.
Siler Divaricata or Fang Feng
Just like Japanese catnip, Siler divaricata effectively drains moisture away from the air you breathe. It will also decongest the nasal cavity from excessive mucus. Siler divaricata also soothes swollen sinuses.
Magnolia Flower Buds or Xin Yi Hua
Magnolia flower buds are a part of a special group of herbs that draw moisture away from the air. This herb alleviates the common symptoms of seasonal allergies: facial pain, runny nose, itchy eyes.
In TCM, people with weak spleen and lungs are vulnerable to allergies. Therefore, to treat the symptoms, the root cause of the problem has to be eliminated. This can be done by drinking several herbal tonics. Codonopsis (dang shen), Atractylodes (bai zhu), Poria (fu ling), are prepared with licorice and taken as a tonic to strengthen the lungs and spleen.
Six Gentlemen Teapills, which contains Pinellia (ban xia) and aged citrus peel (chen pi), is taken as a tonic to minimize mucus and dryness in the air. Chrysanthemum flowers (jua hua) and Cassia seeds (jue ming zi) are used together to relieve itchy eyes.
Treating Seasonal Allergies with Diet
A TCM practitioner could also recommend a change in your diet to relieve seasonal allergies. Certain types of food could trigger hay fever. These foods include dairy products, sweets, and cold foods. They increase the production of mucus and stimulate a stronger allergic reaction. A diet rich in vegetables and boiled grains is ideal for managing hay fever symptoms.
Treating Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture
According to TCM, acupuncture will relieve all types of allergic reactions effectively. A practitioner will manipulate the acupuncture points around the nose and large intestines. Thin needles are inserted on these points to relieve nasal congestion and reduce sneezing. Some practitioners will conduct acupuncture while the patient is exposed to the allergen. This is a fairly new technique that forces the body to get accustomed to the allergen.