Traditional Chinese Medicine and Seasonal Allergies

As we are exploring seasonal allergies this month, I sat down with Sarah Shupe of Acupuncture Alexandria LLC and asked her what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can do to help you with your seasonal allergies.

(For full disclosure, I have been seeing Sarah for the purpose of treating seasonal allergies for the past few months. I will say that the treatments are gentle and relaxing and I am seeing real and lasting benefits. Despite this being a “bad” allergy season, my symptoms have been the mildest they have been since moving to the DC Metro area. I have been extremely pleased with my decision to add TCM into my self-care plan. I highly recommend seeing Sarah.)

1. Sarah, how can Chinese Medicine help treat seasonal allergies?

              According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in the meridian and Organ Systems of the body. These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes, including stress, poor diet, foods that don’t agree with your body, constitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins. Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the functions of the Organ Systems. Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei Qi (pronounced “way chee”). According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it is important to have the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating around the body in order to stay healthy.

              Allergies, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), can be due to a variety of factors. Below are some of the more common TCM diagnoses that your acupuncturist may discover and treat.

  • Wei Qi deficiency
  • Spleen weakness
  • Kidney deficiency
  • Lung deficiency

              During the initial visit I will conduct a thorough exam, taking a complete health history. I will then develop a unique treatment plan that will address your specific concerns. The goals of the treatment plan will be to eliminate visible symptoms and signs, while addressing the root cause(s) and underlying imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi. Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs, dietary changes, massage (tuina), or exercise. These therapies accelerate the healing process in order to balance, build, and support the health and functioning of your body’s systems. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a drug-free, safe, natural and effective way to eliminate hay fever, allergies or the common cold.

      2.  How often should one be treated for seasonal allergies with Chinese medicine?

                 I recommend people come for regular treatments during allergy season to maintain healthy Wei Qi. This may look like a once a week or twice a month treatment plan, depending on the needs and goals of the patient. Patients can schedule with me easily online. I have two offices: one in Burke, VA at The Wellness Center and one in Alexandria, VA at The Healing Tree.

      3. Is there any self-care you recommend to clients to help between treatments?

                  There are things the patient can do between sessions to prolong the benefit of the work that I do. I recommend that patients add moderate exercise and stretching into their daily work routine. This encourages them to maintain proper posture to keep qi flowing and optimal alignment to keep breathing passages open. I also recommend the following:

Seasonal allergy tips:

  1. Flush your nose with a Neti pot.
  2. Add spicy foods and omega-3’s to your diet.
  3. Keep your windows closed during allergy season to prevent dust and pollen from entering.
  4. Put on a dust mask when you are doing yard or house work.
  5. Do not hang your clothes out to dry in the sun, as they will gather dust, mold and pollen.
  6. Come in for an acupuncture tune-up.

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