sneezing and fatigue. If you or someone you love suffers from seasonal allergies, hay fever or allergic rhinitis, then you know what I am talking about. Acupuncture is very effective in addressing these issues and will treat the root of the problem – your imbalanced immune system. In one randomized controlled trial of 238 participants, patients in the active acupuncture group
experienced a statistically significant reduction of symptoms of allergic rhinitis (1). Another controlled randomized trial of 5237 participants concluded that treating patients with allergic rhinitis with acupuncture in addition to standard medication leads to better outcomes in the acupuncture group with
persistent clinical benefits (2).
This is the ideal time to start treatments, about 8 weeks before the start of the allergy season. Once the season has started, acupuncture can mitigate some of the symptoms, but it will
not be as effective as if you start treatments preventatively. As always, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) works best when used as a prevention, to keep your body in tip-top shape so disease has no chance to take hold.
One of my teachers, Jeffrey Yuen (3), related once a story that in ancient times, doctors in China were paid to keep the villagers healthy with preventive medicine. Once someone got ill, the payments would stop until that person got better. Those doctors certainly had an incentive to keep their patients healthy!
To go back to our topic of seasonal allergies, clinical experience shows that many patients find that seasonal tune-ups with intensive treatments (with some maintenance treatments in between) provide much needed relief. After several seasons of treatments their allergies either disappear or are manageable without medication (4,5). The usual course would consist of 6-8
weeks of bi-weekly treatments, followed by one treatment every 3-4 weeks.
In addition to acupuncture, many patients find that use of essential oils and neti pots helps in reducing symptoms. Neti pots are an ancient tradition of rinsing nasal passages with salty water. Daily rinsing helps remove mucus and offending allergens and the patient can breath better. If using neti pots you would want to use either boiled or distilled water (there were 2 incidences of fatal brain infection due to the use of neti pots with contaminated tap water). For salt use non-iodized sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon for 1 cup of water.
It is important to reduce or eliminate dairy, peanuts, citrus and fried foods as they all tend to produce mucus in the body.
According to the ancient Chinese, we are already in spring season
since the Lunar New Year was Feb 10, 2013. Spring belongs to the Wood element and the liver and gall bladder organs. The color of Wood is green/blue-green and it’s taste is sour – a perfect time to do some liver cleanse and include some sour foods in your diet. One of the easiest ways to make sure your liver is in good shape is to start every morning with a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon first thing upon waking up. This helps with the liver detoxification and helps with bile secretion.
P.S. Stay tuned for our next newsletter topic - Acupuncture and Chinese herbs for traumatic injuries (sprained ankles, broken bones, shin-splits etc.)
- Allergy. 2013 Mar;68(3):365-74. doi: 10.1111/all.12053. Epub 2012 Dec 18. A multicenter, randomized, controlled trial
testing the effects of acupuncture on allergic rhinitis. Choi SM, Park JE, Li SS, Jung H, Zi M, Kim TH, Jung S, Kim A, Shin M, Sul JU, Hong Z, Jiping Z, Lee S, Liyun H, Kang K, Baoyan L. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23253122
- Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Nov;101(5):535-43. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60294. Acupuncture in patients with allergic rhinitis: a pragmatic randomized trial.Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, Liecker B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19055209
Spinach has a special affinity for the Liver meridian and organ in TCM and thus it is well suited to be eaten in spring time. It is often
one of the first fresh vegetables available at the farmer’s market. You can substitute Swiss chard, Lacinato Kale or even Mustard Greens. Mango salsa is tangy, sour and pungent and supports liver function. Cilantro is a great liver detoxifier. It is a great way to get kids to eat greens as the slight bitterness of the greens is masked by the sweetness of the salsa.
Ingredients: (serves 2-4)
2 bunches of Swiss
chard or a large box of baby spinach
1-2 garlic cloves
2 springs of spring
1/2 bunch of cilantro
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2
1/2 lb of frozen mango chunks
4 tbs olive oil
Take mango chunks from the freezer and let them sit at room
temperature for about 30 minutes. Wash Swiss chard and tear or chop into small pieces; discard the bottom of stalks if they are very thick and fibrous. You can either steam or sauté Swiss chard. If sautéing, heat some olive oil over medium heat, add one clove of chopped garlic and sauté the chard until wilted, about 5-10 minutes (only 5 min for baby spinach), stirring frequently; season with a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside. Prepare mango salsa by chopping partially frozen mango chunks into smaller pieces (if they defrost all the way, they get soft and are harder to chop). Add finely chopped cilantro, spring onion and garlic (best to use a garlic press), about 1/4 teaspoon of salt, some pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange and about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. Serve over spinach or Swiss chard. Salsa will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. Enjoy!