I wish I had the magic acupuncture needle or herbal formula, that made allergies just BE GONE! For sufferers, allergy season brings on fatigue of the body & spirit that can be overwhelming. Is nature striking back? No, allergies happen everywhere. In Japan, the cedar & cypress tree pollen is said to be the cause, in Sedona we blame the Juniper trees. But these trees have been around for ages & it is only in more recent history that we see the issues with allergies we do today.
Nature doesn’t hate you
Allergies are a complex interplay of issues with multiple factors given for the rise in allergies over the years. Adverse changes in the quality of our air, water, & food have certainly affected us. Our digestive systems have been put under more strain than ever before, with GMO engineered foods, antibiotics, too many cold foods, & problems with eating disorders. We are now seeing these problems in children much earlier than we have in the past.
Another factor is how we live. We often lead lives sealed in heated or air-conditioned dwelling, subjecting the body to wind, an external pathogen, even when we are inside. Allergies are also worse in the spring time. In Chinese medicine, Spring is considered the season of wind & can drive external pathogens into the body (wind-heat, wind-cold, wind-damp). Eventually, anything trapped stagnates & turns to heat. The blocked nasal passages, nasal discharge, loss of taste, nasal polyps, red eyes that we see around this time are often caused by heat that has been trapped in the area & ultimately in the Lungs.
Spring is the season of wind in traditional Asian medicine
Allergies involve multiple organs. The lung, spleen, kidney, & liver are said to play a part in one way or another according to asian medicine. External & internal factors play a part in the allergy cascade. Externally spring is the season of wind, & wind driving pathogens into the body. The face is the most yang part of the body & is the most vulnerable to external attack. Your eyes & nose are out there unprotected, taking on the brunt of what’s around us.
Internally when Lung Qi, or protective Qi, is weak we have less ability to defend ourselves from attacks. The stronger your natural immunity the less external pathogens (allergens, pollens) will affect you.
Dysfunction of the spleen/stomach means we aren’t digesting our food properly & there is less nutrients available to produce protective Qi for the lungs to use, & greater susceptibility to attack from external sources. If digestive function is weak food that is not transformed properly becomes phlegm & dampness, collects in the lungs, and turns to heat.
When the kidneys are weak we have less ability to grasp the qi of the lungs & control the nose & eyes. We can see problems with breathing, water collecting on the face, etc. The liver is responsible for directing Qi around the body & detoxifying what we put into our bodies. Keeping all these organs in working order builds a healthy immune system & allows us to be stronger than the pathogens around us.
Build your immune system
So what can you do to help promote balance & decrease the effect of allergies on your body? First, realize that in some instances it has taken time for these imbalances to present themselves & it will take time for them to heal. Be patient with your body & any paradigm you have chosen to help heal. Acupuncture & herbal medicine is not a quick fix. Make a commitment to come in regularly, discuss issues, & work with your acupuncturist to make lasting changes.
Make Good Qi
Don’t over tax your spleen & stomach, when the stomach & intestines are in good condition there will be enough Qi to combat the Spring allergy season! Here’s some ideas to help promote making Good Qi through the Spring season!
Eat foods that are easy to digest. Switch from cold, raw foods to warm, cooked foods. These don’t require as much energy to transform into good Qi.
Add cooked vegetables, small amount of cooked meats, & soups to your diet.
Cooking with ginger, mint, black pepper, fennel, & rosemary help regulate Qi & promote healthy digestion.
Drink warm or hot drinks, to aid your digestion & ultimately your immune system.
Avoid foods that increase heat in the stomach or are difficult to digest will help, such as alcohol.
Avoid foods that increase damp in the body such as too many sweet foods or dairy items.
Decreasing the amount of wheat & nuts in your diet may also help.
Get plenty of exercise! This is an important factor in strengthening the immune system. A reasonable amount of exercise should be undertaken each day & avoid getting chilled after.