Several of us have noticed itchy eyes, some sneezing, that foggy head and post nasal drip.....the dreaded first signs of allergy season. Even though it is best to start preparing for allergies the season before things start, it is not too late!
Chinese medicine has an arsenal of herbal remedies specifically for allergies as well as being incredibly effective with acupuncture alone. For centuries, acupuncture was the primary form of medicine in China.. This means it was used as the sole method to treat every common (and not so common) health condition in the Chinese population throughout history. Allergies were one of those common problems things and people had many of the same symptoms we suffer from today. They were effectively treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and there is much written in historical and current Chinese medical literature about the effective treatment of allergies with acupuncture and herbs.
Using Chinese medicine to treat allergies in either yourself or your children is one of the best ways to get care tailored to exactly what the presentation is. More itchiness than runny nose? On it. More foggy head than sneezing? Check. Cannot stop blowing your nose? Got it.
The primary focus of using acupuncture and herbs is to modulate the immune system so it can simultaneously fight off and increase resistance to the environmental offender. This goes hand in hand with recognizing what the body and immune system need at the root which is where the tailored medicine comes in. Symptoms are treated naturally, and children and adults improve quickly with both acupuncture and herbs. This helps strengthen the adult or child, making them less vulnerable to allergens as well as viral and bacterial infections in the future.
There has been quite a bit of research on using Chinese herbs and acupuncture for allergies, especially in adults. One studies summarizes their research and the application of use in pediatrics this way.
"5% of adults with allergic rhinitis in the United States have reportedly used acupuncture to alleviate their symptoms (65,66).
Similarly, only one randomized study has been conducted to assess the effects of acupuncture on pediatric allergic rhinitis.
Ng and colleagues (67) conducted a double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study among children in a Hong Kong Hospital with persistent allergic rhinitis. Seventy-two children, aged 6–20 years, were assigned to receive acupuncture or sham acupuncture, where needles were inserted only 0.3 cm into the skin and were not rotated as in the active acupuncture protocol, biweekly for 8 weeks.
During the 12 weeks following treatment, a significant reduction in daily rhinitis scores was reported among the acupuncture group. Similarly, the acupuncture group had significantly more symptom free days during the treatment and follow-up periods. Visual analog scores also revealed greater immediate improvement among those in the acupuncture group. Laboratory findings revealed that post-treatment IgE levels, which indicate the presence of an allergic antibody, were significantly elevated in the sham group, but not the acupuncture group, as compared with baseline data." -Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Dec 2009; 6(4): 429–439.
It is generally recommended for children to get acupuncture two to three times a week initially, while simultaneously taking an herbal formula. Depending on the child's symptoms and health history, supplements may be recommended as well to help decrease inflammation, support gut health, and strengthen immunity. If the child comes to acupuncture already in the middle of allergy season, a great deal can be done to minimize the suffering. Often, a child can leave a single treatment feeling less stuffy, sniffly, or itchy. Over time, the effects of treatment are cumulative, so a child can go several weeks without needing acupuncture. It is often advised that the child or adult stays on the herbal formula and supplements through allergy season with maintenance acupuncture after things get under control.
Some great tips to get you through the season:
1. Use a neti pot or saline spray or rinse every morning and evening. The cleaner your nasal passages and sinuses are, the less irritating the pollen is which translates to a less runny nose, less sneezing and itchiness and a decrease in dry and raw nares.
2. Clean up your diet. If you are dealing with baseline inflammation from food sensitivities it makes the seasonal allergies that much harder to manage. That means reducing sugar too!
3. Keep supplements basic. My three go-to supplements during this time of year (and almost any time of year) are probiotics, vitamin D, and vitamin C. Together they help support gut integrity and strengthen immunity. Doses depend on the health and size of the child, but a good, store-bought pediatric probiotic supplement (not just a yogurt or a probiotic drink), 500-1000mg of daily vitamin C, and 1000-2000 IU of daily vitamin D are a huge help to a child's immune system.
4. Bring your child and yourself to get acupuncture and Chinese herbs for allergies. You will all be able to actually enjoy the seasons instead of just wishing they were over.
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