TCM and Allergies

It’s that time of the year again. Itchy, red eyes. Stuffy, runny nose. The sneezing, the congestion…

Allergies are here, and it seems this year they came back swinging harder than ever. Up to 25% of the population suffers from seasonal allergies, which is a whole lot of sniffles. There are so many options for treating seasonal allergies, but most Western medications end up drying out the system, leaving behind a raw feeling that’s not much better than an actual allergy attack itself. Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer an alternative solution.

TCM differs from Western Medicine in that the former believes that allergies occur when our bodies are out of balance, leaving the Wei, or Protective Qi, weak and susceptible. This leaves room for wind to come in, which brings in damp and heat along for the ride. A classic damp symptom would be the runny nose and congestion, and a typical heat symptom are those infamous red and itchy eyes. The idea then, is to use acupuncture and herbs to boost the Wei, so that it can act as a buffer and not let that troublesome wind into the body, restoring balance to our overall system.

Another aspect of Chinese Medicine is the focus on diet and herbs. Certain foods can easily be added to your daily diet to boost the immune system, therefore benefiting the Protective Qi that needs to be at its most alert for defending the body against pathogens. Foods that are rich in vitamin C, magnesium, beta-carotene, and quercetin are all helpful and easy to find in a variety of foods at your local supermarket. Ginger, avocado, spinach, cabbage, kiwi, and quinoa are just a few examples of the many foods that have these benefits and can help the body defend itself. These foods have antihistamine effects, open up the breathing airways and help to raise our immunities. It is also important to look at the temperatures of foods, and seek out ingredients that are cooling when under an allergy attack. Watermelon, radishes, and cucumbers all have a cooling effect on our system, and naturally combat the heat that can bring on the discomfort of red, itchy eyes.

If you’re a long-time allergy sufferer who is tired of the unpleasant side effects of the usual treatment options, acupuncture and dietary therapy can provide a welcome relief. So stop dreading the sight of the first robin of spring and find a TCM program that is right for you.

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