After a long, cold and gloomy winter, everyone looks forward to spring. Everyone that is, except those with allergies and unfortunately, those with allergies make up nearly one third of the population of our country.
For some, the misery starts early in the spring with the release of prolific pollen from a variety of trees. For others it is not until late spring and early summer their misery begins as the grass and weeds give forth their nasty allergens. Others have no reprieve at all because they are they unfortunate ones who react to airborne mold spores, dust, dust mites and animal dander that have no seasonal limits.
Allergies are the body's overreaction to those allergens in the environment and in food. Normally, the weaker the immune system and the greater the imbalance of the body, the stronger the reactions. These allergic reactions cause some degree of inflammation, which in turn, weakens the body. The severity of the allergic reaction can range anywhere from itchy eyes, sneezing and runny nose to skin reactions such as eczema or hives. In some cases it can be so severe as to cause a life-threatening obstruction of the airways.
Typically, the way most people seek to treat allergies is to buy over the counter such antibiotics or decongestants that will help reduce their symptoms. However, while those medications may reduce the allergy symptoms, chances are they will end up creating symptoms of their own such as drowsiness, immune system suppression or over-reliance on medicines.
Because some people are not interested in changing one set of problems for another, they look to safer, more effective alternative ways to treat their allergies. Acupuncture is one of those ways. Acupuncture insects not only the symptoms, providing excellent relief; it also addresses the undercoming immune system imbalance which is thought to be at the root of the person's allergies. Treating the whole person is at the center of the philosophy behind acupuncture.
An example of this is the “branch and root” approach to treatment. In regards to allergies, the branch approach would be to treat the symptoms that are annoying and very disruptive to one's life. This would continue on as needed during the allergy season.
In between allergy seasons, the patient would continue to receive treatments but this time the emphasis would be on strengthening the immune system or the “root”, thus minimizing or eliminating previous symptoms of the past.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the umbrella under which acupuncture is a part of, Chinese herbs are also often used to treat symptoms and strengthen the immune system. In fact, “the most effective way to treat allergies is to use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.