Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies

It’s that time of year when the sun is shining and nature begins to awaken, bringing the promise of beautiful days outdoors.  Coloradans love being outside, but for some the pollen of springtime also brings the miserable symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Often, people feel like they have tried everything or that they are managing just enough and they just have to suffer through the sneezing, itchy red eyes and runny nose.  Acupuncture can relieve the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies and calm the accompanying inflammation.  

Allergies are caused when the body produces antibodies to a substance that is typically seen as benign.  The immune system treats the allergen as a harmful substance and releases histamine, which causes inflammation and swelling in the mucus membranes of the nose and eyes.  The good news is acupuncture can be beneficial in calming that inflammation.  Researchers have found that acupuncture down regulates a proinflammatory biochemical called tumor necros factor alpha (TNF-a).  What this means in terms of relief is that acupuncture is going to calm the inflammation in the body.  In addition to reducing overall inflammation, the holistic nature of the treatment is going to assess the specific needs and constitution of the individual patient.  If someone tends more towards a runny nose than itchy eyes, that can be addressed by using specific points to reduce the symptoms locally.  

Often people suffering from seasonal allergies resort to more conventional methods to alleviate symptoms, but find the side effects to be uncomfortable as well.  Antihistamines can be drying in the already semi-arid climate of Colorado, decongestants cause drowsiness and corticosteroids suppress the body’s immune system and cause insomnia.  Traditional Chinese medicine can reduce the need and frequency to seek these types of therapies by creating a physical foundation that calms the allergic reaction.  Below are some other steps that can support you through the season.

Irrigation of the nasal passages-Using a neti pot or a saline nasal spray can clear the nasal passages of mucus and pollen.  The body is going to continue to try and expel the pollen, which means more sneezing and mucus and this is an easy way to help the process along.  This is especially helpful if you are using antihistamines as the drying nature of the medication can make it difficult for your body to eliminate it naturally.  

Avoid foods that cause inflammation-Inflammatory foods in your diet can exacerbate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  Food that you are sensitive to or have an allergy to should be avoided.  Some known inflammatory substances are; sugar, wheat, dairy, caffeine, chocolate, citrus, peanuts, alcohol and eggs.  If you want to delve deeper into the specific foods that affect you an elimination diet can determine sensitivities.  

Stress reduction techniques-Higher stress levels can affect your immune system causing more allergy flare ups.  Soothing music, reading, aromatherapy and meditation are all great ways to enhance relaxation.  Whatever you do to relax and stay calm, consider increasing that.

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