Falling Into Allergy Season?

Autumn Leaves

Despite it's general popularity, Fall is not all about sweaters, apple cider, and pumpkin spice to everyone.  Every year, thousands look to the autumnal season with dread, knowing it will spurn on allergic rhinitis and the runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and fatigue that go along with it. Since the idea of "allergy season" is mostly associated with Springtime pollen blooms, Fall allergies can often be overlooked. While the triggers are different, the general misery of the sufferer is the same.  The biggest Autumn allergy culprit is ragweed, whose microscopic pollen is released into the air with the cooler evenings of late August and early September, and can continue to plague allergy sufferers through November. Also don't forget, those who are sensitive to mold and dust mites can see an uptick in allergy symptoms during this time of year.

Common Western medical interventions include heavy doses of anti-histamines, decongestants, and steroidal nasal sprays. While these medications can sometimes mask symptoms, they  are often ineffective and do not treat the ability of the patient to fend off future allergic response. Others turn to immunotherapy, hoping to curb their overall ability to fend off these pathogens. This therapy is more of a long-term strategy, and mostly does not aid the present allergy sufferer in curbing their symptoms. So what's to be done?

In steps Eastern Medicine. For centuries, acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to treat acute and chronic allergies in a natural and effective way. In Chinese Medicine, allergies are often considered to be caused by an underlying Lung or Wei Qi Deficiency. Our "Wei Qi" is the terminology used to describe our body's natural immunological defenses. In turn, the Lung is the organ that governs and circulates our Wei Qi. When either is in a weakened state, our protective barriers are down, enabling an Invasion of, and reaction to, substances that would otherwise be harmless. It's also notable to consider that many times allergy sufferers find themselves more susceptible to the common cold as well. With a deficiency in Lung and/or Wei Qi, the body is more susceptible to what is known as "Wind-Cold Invasion." This makes sense when you consider the decreased temperatures and increased gusty winds of the Fall and Winter season.  For this reason, your Chinese Medicine practitioner will often recommend that you keep your upper body and neck covered, especially during these times.

In our Manhattan clinic, we commonly treat patients struggling with seasonal allergies, and are seeing a surge in this complaint. When considering a treatment strategy, you and your practitioner will discuss in detail the onset and quality of your symptoms. From there, an individualized treatment plan is formed, which many times includes a combination of acupuncture and herbal therapies. These modalities aim to expel external pathogens from the body, treat current symptoms, boost your Lung and Wei Qi, and protect you from future allergic attacks. There are several acupuncture points and herbal formulas commonly used in these treatments, but this is not a one-size fits all medicine. It's very important to see a licensed practitioner in order to receive a customized, safe and effective treatment for your seasonal allergies.


~Sarah Biffen MS, LAc, Dipl. OM