Allergic Rhinitis And Chronic Sinus Congestion:
Allergic rhinitis is a seasonal, often perennial disorder characterized by attacks of sneezing, nasal congestion and profuse nasal discharge. Many patients experience itchy eyes and red conjunctivae. As congestion in the sinus passages increases, patients may also complain about thickened mucus membranes, difficulty breathing, impaired mental concentration, headaches, and asthmatic symptoms. From a conventional point of view, these signs are caused by a hypersensitivity in the lining of the nasal cavity to various pollens, spores, dust mites, animal dander, and / or fumes. For one reason or another, the patient's immune system has instructed the area in question to remain on high alert for potential threats that may gain entrance to the body through the nasal passages, mouth and throat. When the perceived elements encroach, the immune system sends hysterical signals to immediately isolate the invaders in the confines of these orifices. It then sends white blood cell commandos to the area to demolish the threat. The ensuing battle creates the signs and symptoms that we describe as an allergic attack.
Common treatments for allergic rhinitis typically involve some form of desensitization to the offending allergen or administration of antihistamines to block the body's immune response. In essence, these treatments focus on redirecting or suppressing (dumbing down) the patient's immune response to a specific external impact. They do not revitalize or alter other related aspects of immunity that may be relevant to the patient's condition. Nor do they remove the obstacles that can delay or prevent body systems from restoring themselves to harmonic function.
The Chinese Medical Approach:
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats allergic rhinitis by focusing on the internal factors that caused the body's immune response to become disordered, while also alleviating the symptoms caused by it's hyper-reactive state. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas help the immune system to calmly and accurately assess threat status and modulate response mechanisms according to the appropriate threat level.
Chinese Medicine uses the concept of “Wei Qi” to understand the nature and functions of immunity. Wei Qi is the defensive aspect of the body's cognizant vital force (Qi). Much like our “Homeland Security”, Wei Qi circulates under the skin and between the muscles, protecting the body from being adversely affected by “wind”, “cold”, “heat”, or other “elements” that are encountered in one's environment . Lung and kidney Qi assist Wei Qi in defending its boundaries against wind borne elements that might prove to be pathogenic. Lung Qi nourishes and protects the mucus linings of the nose, mouth and respiratory tract. Kidney Qi transports nourishment forward to the lungs, and transmits endocrine system information so that Wei Qi can mount an intelligent and measured defense response to whatever pathogens it encounters. If Wei Qi is well nourished and strong, it will accurately recognize an undesirable visitor within its borders. It will then initiate a measured inflammatory response to trap the invader, while simultaneously alerting white blood cell commandos to destroy the histamine imprisoned allergen. Nasal discharges and sneezing help to eliminate mucus “battle debris,” and homeostasis is restored.
Allergies complicated by deficiency:
If any of the organ systems supply Wei Qi become deficient or obstructed in their duties, a minor allergic response can escalate into a huge battlefield disaster. Fatigued lymphocyte soldiers falter in their mission to destroy invaders, and the infected area becomes overly toxic. As mucus accumulates, sneezing becomes more forceful, and the patient may despair of ever breathing easily again. Keynote features in patterns of rhinitis complicated by deficiency include:
• Onset coincides with a change of weather
• Sneezing is transitory and recurrent
• Itching around nose and eyes increases
• Complexion is waxy and pale
• History of (or concurrent) asthma or eczema
• Deficient, weak pulse
Allergies worsened by stagnation:
Wei Qi also Declines if the Qi and blood pathways became blocked for any reason. Blockage can occur when liver Qi succumbs to emotional stress. Un-vented frustration or anger can literally strangle liver energy, restraining it from circulating vital Qi and blood to all the other body systems. Without the smooth and efficient flow of information and nutrients, the body's defense mechanisms malfunction, in this instance by over reacting. Keynote features in this pattern of rhinitis include:
• Easy irritability out of proportion to current events
• Red or white face becoming purple during episodes of anger
• Pulse has a string-taut quality
Allergies are strongly influenced by food choices:
A second form of stagnation / obstruction occurs as a result of poor dietary choices. Regular consumption of cold and phlegm-producing foods induces a state of dampness that slows digestion, hindering the absorption and distribution of nutrients to the rest of the body. Foods made from cow's milk, cold fruit juices, peanuts, and all foods or drinks containing sugar produce mucus in the digestive tract that then accumulates in the nose and lungs. This is most frequently observed in children with persistent runny noses, nasal itching, and / or chronic noisy respiration. Keynote features in this hypo-reactive pattern of rhinitis include:
• White face
• Droopy posture, fatigue, muzzy-headed
• Poor appetite (picky eater)
• Thirsty but refuses drink
• Loose stools
The miraculous effects of acupuncture:
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture and time tested herbal formulas to treat allergic rhinitis. To treat sinus misery, the acupuncture physician gently inserts very fine-gauged needles into selected energy channels along the body surface, called meridians. These channels, can be stimulated to subdue an ingoing allergic response and disperse accumulating mucus, or to reformat communication pathways in order to prevent future attacks. Often two or three acupuncture treatments during the month prior to an oncoming allergy season can normalize and strengthen the lungs, kidneys and Wei Qi to such a degree that the patient no longer responds to formerly troublesome allergens.
Chinese Herbal Prescriptions Offer Relief:
Daily doses of Chinese herbal medicines can make a huge difference in alleviating the misery experienced during an attack, as well as strengthening lung and kidney support systems over the long term. If offending foods are also eliminated, freedom to enjoy being out in nature is naturally guaranteed.