It’s Allergy Season
The sun is shining, flowers are starting to peek out of the soil, and puffy winter coats are being put away. Spring is coming! In Chinese Medicine, spring is the time of Wood energy, when the world starts to emerge from hibernation, days grow longer and warmer and our energy is rejuvenated. For some of us, though, it is the season of runny noses, headaches, and sneezing fits. Why is it that some people can walk into springtime with not a care in the world, while others suffer every year?
Allergic symptoms, from itchy eyes to eczema, come from your immune system overreacting to an allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
But, you may ask, why do I have acute seasonal allergies, while other people don’t? Allergies, like many inflammatory reactions, start in our gut. In fact, 70% of our immune system is found in the gut! The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ explains that we can weaken the immune system by taking hash antibiotics as a kid, and using antimicrobial cleaners throughout our lives. And, unfortunately, sometimes it runs in families. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be helped! It’s never too late to start building up a strong immune system.
There are two ways to get more good bacteria into your gut: fermented foods and dietary supplements. Adding a probiotic into your daily routine can boost the immune system, and ease inflammation. It doesn’t just help the digestion. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut also boost gut health.
While building a strong immune system from the gut, try eliminating anti-microbial cleaners and replacing them with natural ones. And for those acute allergy days, try using a neti-pot to clear the sinuses.
Acupuncture can also go a long way to treating your seasonal maladies. The World Health Organization considers seasonal allergies a respiratory disease that can effectively be treated with acupuncture. This is because acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation by acting on the immune system and promoting regulatory mechanisms. In acupuncture-speak, this is done by regulating the “wood” energy with the lung energy. By stimulating these meridians acupuncture can treat acute, as well as systemic, seasonal allergies, and allergic rhinitis.
McDonald JL, Cripps AW, Smith PK, Smith CA, Xue CC, Golianu B. The anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture and their relevance to allergic rhinitis: a narrative review and proposed model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:591796.
McDonald JL, Smith PK, Smith CA, Changli Xue C, Golianu B, Cripps AW. Effect of acupuncture on house dust mite specific IgE, substance P, and symptoms in persistent allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Jun;116(6):497-505.