Springtime allergies are notorious for plaguing New Yorkers every year. It is difficult to turn on the television and not see a commercial for some kind of allergy medicine or to walk outside and see people dodging pollen when a large gust of wind goes by. Acupuncture and herbs have been widely known to help with aches and pain as well as helping people who suffer from anxiety, depression and a myriad of other mental and physical health issues, but acupuncture and herbal medicine can also be used to help with seasonal allergy symptoms, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis.
According to “Acupuncture in allergic rhinitis,” an article published by the US National Library of Medicine, traditional Chinese medicine labels the body’s immunity as the defensive Qi. Allergies are a “wind” disease and threatens the defensive Qi flow, causing it to become deficient in the skin, lungs and mucous membrane. This causes the typical allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, rash and sneezing in around 30% of the world’s population. The purpose of acupuncture is to alter the profile of the “cytokines,” which are substances that are secreted by immune cells and have an effect on other cells of the body. By altering these cytokines, it is believed that acupuncture can be used for preventative purposes and to treat patients who are already experiencing symptoms.
A study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine journal tested different allergy treatments on patients who suffered from symptoms. This study separated these patients into 3 groups and they were tested over a period of 2 months;
- Group 1 had 12 acupuncture sessions and had the option to take antihistamines if they needed to
- Group 2 had 12 fake acupuncture treatments which were done by professionals placing the needles in random points on the body that would have no effect on the patient. Like Group 1, Group 2 was also given the option to take antihistamines if they needed to.
- Group 3 only took antihistamines if they experienced symptoms.
The results showed that after the 2-month period, Group 1 (who received 12 real acupuncture sessions and were given the option to take antihistamines if needed) reported more relief in their symptoms than the other two groups. It is also important to note that Group 1 used an average less antihistamines than the other patients in Group 2 and 3.
Of course, more studies should be conducted to place acupuncture as a front runner in allergy treatment, but with its reputation as an aid in helping other ailments and diseases we experience in our day to day life, it would not be a stretch to classify acupuncture as an effective treatment for many allergy sufferers.
Acsifferlin, Alexandra Sifferlin. “Is Acupuncture an Antidote for Allergies?” Time, Time, 19 Feb. 2013,healthland.time.com/2013/02/19/is-acupuncture-the-antidote-for-allergies/.
Hauswald, Bettina, and Yury M Yarin. “Acupuncture in Allergic Rhinitis: A Mini-Review.” Allergo Journal International, Urban & Vogel, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479426/.
Toews, G.B. “Cytokines and the Lung.” European Respiratory Society, European Respiratory Society, 2 July 2001,erj.ersjournals.com/content/18/34_suppl/3s.