Successful Allergy Treatment with Acupuncture

Between 10 and 20 percent of the general population is believed to suffer from allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever. In the U.S., allergy sufferers spend between $4.5 and $7.7 billion per year to treat their symptoms, according to a recent medical study. A significant portion of this cost reflects over-the-counter and prescription medications, many of which are remarkably expensive and incur the additional price of unwanted side effects.

In China, acupuncture and herbal medicines have been used for centuries to successfully treat the symptoms of allergic rhinitis as well as other allergy-related conditions. A study in the September 2004 issue of Allergy found that a combination of Chinese herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions was effective in relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Patients in the study received a standardized 20-minute acupuncture treatment once a week for six weeks, stimulating points on the Large Intestine, Gallbladder, Lung and Liver meridians. Additional points were selected based on each patient's individual symptoms. Concurrently the patients took a basic herbal formula consisting of schizonepeta, chrysanthemum, cassia seed, plantago seed and tribulus three times per day.

Allergies are an immune system issue. The foods, chemicals and substances people are allergic to usually are harmless. There is nothing inherently toxic in ragweed pollen, dairy products, cat dander or dust. Allergy reactions occur in response to a substance because the immune system reads the substance as a threat to the body. The symptoms of itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat of someone allergic to ragweed do not occur because the pollen is a toxic substance, but because the person's immune system has malfunctioned.

The immune system has a particular type of intelligence. It identifies and keeps track of every pathogen it encounters. Every time it senses a known pathogen, it responds with a relevant line of attack and defense. This process often calls on the participation of many body systems and as a result, demands a lot of energy. This is why we feel so fatigued when we are fighting a cold or infection. The same is true of an allergic response. (Ever wonder why you feel tired when your allergies are active?)

It is quite apparent that Western allopathic treatments of allergies were not created with the immune system in mind. Many of the treatments actually further burden the immune system because the medicines are foreign to the body and may stress the liver, kidney or lymph system if taken in excess. Some allergy medications are so foreign to the body that they can trigger a mild reaction in the body that is similar to an allergy reaction.

When allergies are treated naturally, with a regimen of herbs and acupuncture, and specifically, with the unique energetic and body system needs of the individual patient, then allergy symptoms stand the best chance of being successfully reduced and managed. This approach to allergy treatment can actually be a general health tonic, as it includes enhancement of the immune system. Not only are symptoms managed without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, the body is nourished and strengthened. A true win/win for the allergy sufferer.

Bobbie Rene Parke,
M.Ac.O.M., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

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