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Alternative Therapies for Allergies

The first time I experienced immediate relief from an acupuncture treatment was for allergies while I was in medical school. I was on a retreat with one of my Chinese Herbal Medicine classes where we were learning to make topical formulas. The retreat took place on the land of one of my professors, an old farm. I had been feeling a little congested with allergy symptoms for a few weeks, but as soon I as stepped out of my car and onto the farm I suddenly had a full on allergy attack. I could not stop sneezing, my nose dripped like a faucet, and I thought I might have to scratch my eyes out. Seeing that I was clearly suffering, my friends lay me on a nice shady spot of grass and skillfully administered acupuncture to various points on my body. Within seconds I had no symptoms at all.

I like to share this story with fellow allergy sufferers to give you hope. There are methods of treating your allergies that do not involve feeling foggy, drowsy, or drugged.

Allergy sufferers can already tell that it’s that time of year again. The buds are blooming, the birds are chirping and the air is becoming filled with all sorts of pollens and grasses. Hundreds of thousands of us will start to be affected by the plant kingdom’s sexual explosion over the next couple of weeks or months, depending on what your particular allergy is.

Common signs of a seasonal allergy are, of course, running/stuffy nose, sneezing, irritated eyes, headaches, and generally feeling run down. However, DO NOT wait for these symptoms to start. The time to act is NOW – nip it in the bud (pun intended) before your symptoms start and you may be able to avoid them altogether. Again – the sooner you start, the less likely you will suffer allergy symptoms.

There are several alternatives to help you through this season. For seasonal allergy symptom relief I use a three-pronged approach of nutrition, herbs, and acupuncture.  

I have previously touted the benefits of a proper whole foods diet for prevention and treatment of almost every disease out there. Allergies will also improve with the intake of essential vitamins and minerals. In particular, the nutrients called bioflavonoids, which are found in citrus fruits, berries, and red, orange, and green colored vegetables, help to relieve allergy symptoms. They work to stabilize “mast” cells, which release histamine and cause all of those uncomfortable symptoms.  

Herbal formulas can also be quite effective in relieving your discomfort. These herbs also stabilize the mast cells and prevent the release of histamine. Herbs are safe and effective, but the dosage required is often higher than the once a day OTC antihistamines.

Acupuncture is great for immediate relief of symptoms. While it works to quell the irritation of your nose, eyes, and throat, acupuncture also puts your entire body back into balance and can help you have a more mild allergy season.

It is in the treatment of the whole person, not just the symptoms, that true healing and recovery takes place. Suffering from allergies is not normal. No body should react to the environment in such a way. While working to relieve your symptoms, you should always focus on what the dysfunction is in your body that is causing you to react to your allergens. I most commonly find that those who suffer from allergies need stimulation and modulation of the immune system, the nervous system, and/or the adrenal glands, which all play a role in how we interact with, and to, our environment.  

With this in mind, please remember that in order to be symptom free you have to treat your whole body and not just cover up your symptoms.  Good nutrition, a proper herbal formula, and acupuncture can strengthen your body to make you less susceptible to allergens now and in allergy seasons to come. 

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