Allergies

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10 04, 2012

Getting Help for Allergies with Acupuncture

Rick is an active 42-year-old-man who came to us a few years ago complaining of allergy symptoms that kept him from enjoying the outdoor activities he loved. Rick was using over-the-counter medication to treat his symptoms, but found they were ineffective or produced side effects that were nearly as bad as the allergy symptoms themselves.

Digging Deeper

When we first saw Rick, we noticed his energy was low. Digging deeper, we discovered he often woke up tired and had trouble falling and staying asleep at night. He also complained of lower back pain in spite of being in great shape.

Rick’s symptoms indicated he had a lung and kidney qi-energy deficiency. We knew Rick’s kidneys were deficient because of his lower back pain and because his pulse was weak in the kidney position. The kidneys help keep the lungs strong and healthy so weak lung qi-energy can also be a sign of weak kidney qi-energy.

man enjoying outdoors allergy free

A Plan for Treatment

Allergies often develop in the sinuses after repeated colds and flu that can weaken the sinuses to the point where they may never fully recover.

To remedy this, we focused Rick’s acupuncture treatment on the sinus points as well as the lung and kidney points. This opened, cleared, and stimulated the sinuses so they would function properly and be strong enough to withstand environmental aggravators such as allergens, wind, colds and flus, and cold weather.  

Because the lungs are associated with sinus health and the kidneys support the lungs, we targeted both organs in acupuncture treatment to help promote sinus and respiratory health. By doing this, we were able to treat Rick’s allergy symptoms and address the underlying internal conditions that were contributing to his allergies.

Rick’s allergies improved immediately and became less severe over the course of treatments. After 10 treatments, his symptoms resolved and we recommended he return for treatment before the start of the next allergy season.

Today, Rick’s symptoms are mild and infrequent and we are able to focus on other ailments and to strengthen his overall health and body balance. He continues to come in regularly before allergy season, but needs only a few treatments to keep his symptoms in check.  Rick is doing great and is able to enjoy his time in the outdoors year round, thanks to the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese medicine (TCM) for seasonal allergies.

Wondering if acupuncture can help with your condition? Contact Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location.

22 06, 2011

Seasonal Allergies

I've suffered from allergies for a long time, after becoming frustrated with the 'off-the-shelf type products' I thought I'd try a natural alternative. From the initial contact with Okanagan Acupuncture I was impressed with their thoroughness in answering my questions and alleviating any concerns.

After 2 treatments my symptoms have decreased significantly and I'm optimistic that the results will continue. I'm confident in recommending OAC to anyone suffering from seasonal allergies, especially to anyone who has tried every available drugstore type anti allergy product and become frustrated with diminishing results.    -David, Peachland, BC

19 05, 2009

Hay Fever / Seasonal Allergies

Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies, is an allergic response to indoor or outdoor airborn allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. This causes cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. For many people, hay fever is seasonal, worse at certain times of year, especially in the spring, summer or fall. But some people experience hay fever year-round. Hay fever affects about 1 in 5 people and can begin at any age but is most likely to develop in childhood or early adulthood.

Hay fever is due to an over-reactivity of the immune system. The immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless airborne substance as something harmful, and then starts producing allergy-causing antibodies in a process called sensitization. Every time the body comes in contact with the substance after that, these antibodies recognize it and signal the immune system to react, releasing chemicals (such as histamine) that lead to the irritating symptoms of hay fever.

Hay fever can be triggered by either seasonal or year-round (perennial) allergens. Seasonal triggers include tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, and spores from fungi and molds, which can be worse in warm-weather months. Year-round triggers include dust mites, cockroaches, pet dander, or spores from indoor and outdoor fungi and molds. Symptoms of hay fever usually develop immediately after exposure to allergens and often start or worsen at a particular time of year, such as in the spring when they are triggered by tree pollen, grasses, or weeds. People with sensitivities to indoor allergens such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold or pet dander may have year-round symptoms.

Common symptoms include runny nose and nasal congestion, watery or itchy eyes, sneezing, cough, itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat, sinus pressure and facial pain, swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners), and decreased sense of smell or taste. More intrusive are symptoms of sleeplessness, fatigue, and irritability. Conventional treatment may involve over-the-counter and/or prescription medications to relieve symptoms. Medications may include nasal or pill-form corticosteroids to treat and prevent the inflammation symptoms, antihistamines for itching, sneezing, and runny nose, decongestants, or medications that have an effect on the immune system.

With Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the lungs, kidney, and immune system often play a role in the cause of hay fever. Hay fever is very often due to a kidney deficiency because the kidneys are responsible for breathing as well as sneezing. The kidneys also play a role in our immune system so when the kidneys are weak, our immunity is affected. In the case of hay fever, this manifests as a hyper-reactive immune response. The more severe the kidney deficiency, the more frequently the allergic reactions are experienced- this includes year-round allergies to allergens such as dust, fungus, or animals.

A kidney deficiency leaves the body susceptible to external environmental invasions, leading to an invasion of wind in the nose, and this is when allergy symptoms begin to occur. Wind-cold pattern will produce symptoms of sneezing, profuse runny nose with white-watery discharge, pale complexion, stuffed nose, slight headache and no thirst. Wind-heat pattern will lead to sneezing, runny nose with white-watery discharge, itchy throat, itchy red eyes, and slight thirst.

During allergy season, frequent acupuncture treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms experienced and often yield a quick response. Patients may notice a decrease in their nose stuffiness, sneezes, and number of itching episodes around the eyes, as well as an increase in overall energy levels. Outside of allergy season, treatments may be less frequent and focus on correcting the underlying imbalance in order to strengthen the body and boost the immune system in order to prevent future allergic reactions from reoccurring. Acupuncture offers effective relief for hay fever, either as an alternative to conventional methods of treatment, or in conjunction with them, and for sufferers of hay fever, is well worth considering.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.

22 12, 2008

Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the mucus membranes that line the sinus cavities, causing the sinus membranes to secrete excessive mucus. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection following an upper respiratory viral infection or an attack of allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies). Acute sinusitis may also be caused by allergies, pressure or temperature changes, and airborne irritants such as smoke or dust. Chronic sinusitis can be due to incomplete treatment of acute sinusitis or repeated attacks of acute sinusitis.

Western medical diagnosis and treatment for sinusitis is based on signs, symptoms and history. As far as treatment goes, antibiotics are the main method for both acute and chronic sinusitis. Antibiotics are often effective in relieving the symptoms of bacterial-caused sinusitis but may have no effect on conditions caused by allergies or environmental irritants. After symptoms have disappeared due to antibiotic treatment, people often have reoccurrences, which then become a chronic sinusitis condition. Antibiotics are then repeatedly prescribed, which may offer some relief but not fully resolve the condition.

Other medications that may be used to treat sinusitis are antihistamines and saline solution washes, and cortical steroid sprays. These treatments reduce inflammation and open the sinuses, allowing for better drainage and offering relief from symptoms again without resolving the condition.

Chinese Medicine categorizes both acute and chronic sinusitis as similar diseases. In both cases sinusitis begins with the body having a damp environment, and this condition causes the body’s immune system to be weak. The weakened immune system opens the door for an invasion of cold or heat to penetrate the body’s defense and lodge in the nasal passages. This now becomes what is called a damp heat condition which produces thick phlegm and other common symptoms of sinusitis. A damp condition with heat creates an environment that quite often leads to a bacterial infection, further contributing to the symptoms. Overwork, illness, or weakness in the body, overuse of antibiotics, or poor diet may also aggravate the condition causing more dampness and a weaker immune system.

Treatment mainly involves resolving a damp-phlegm condition. There are a few reasons why there may be dampness in the body such as a weakness of the spleen, stagnation of liver, kidney weakness, lung weakness, or a combination of a few. To effectively treat the condition, it is important to determine the underlying cause in order to address both the body’s ability to transform and transport fluids properly, as well as strengthen the body according to the underlying weakness. Many times people don’t realize that they are eating the wrong foods for their constitution and that their diet is causing a lot of the problem. A treatment that combines acupuncture and simple diet changes usually produces great results, as the combination can greatly increase the therapeutic effect of the acupuncture treatment.

The treatment of sinusitis with acupuncture is an excellent example of how Chinese medicine and Western medicine can complement each other, using the particular strengths of each system for the best solution to a health problem. In the case of sinusitis, Western medicine can be effective for treating acute sinusitis due to bacterial infection, whereas Chinese medicine can be used together with Western medicine for bacterial-related sinusitis and is better suited to the treatment of chronic conditions or those conditions that have other causes. In combining these systems, we can draw upon their unique strengths to effectively resolve many health conditions and bring the body back into a healthy, balanced state.

James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St in Kelowna, BC.