Hay Fever and Acupuncture…again

I’ve suffered with hay fever my whole life, but every year it always seems to catch me by surprise.  And this year feels exceptionally bad.  I think I’m allergic to oak pollen of all things, and grass of course.  Grass is my nemesis.  In June I only have to look at it and I’m sneezing.  If it touches my skin I come out in a rash, so I have a double whammy – allergic rhinitis and pollinosis.

West versus East

I even did my acupuncture degree dissertation on hay fever, so I know a little bit about the pathogenesis of the condition.   I seem to write about this every summer, so I won’t bore you with too much detail, but from a Western medicine point of view hay fever is basically an autoimmune disease.  This is the technical bit:

Allergen-specific Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is synthesized by the body in response to allergens in the environment (which in this case is pollen), which become fixed on the membranes of mast cells and basophils.  These are key components in the inflammatory response, which in the case of hay fever is classically sneezing, nasal itching, nasal blockage and watery secretions, sore eyes and general tiredness.

From a Chinese medicine point of view, though, it’s much more exciting.  We believe that hay fever is pretty much like catching a cold, which we call Cold Wind Invasion.   It is the wind that carries in a pathogen (pollen), which happens because the body’s natural defences have been weakened by diet, overworking and stress, and some people are simply unlucky, and they inherit the weakness.  The cold enters the Lung channel via the nose, and if not treated soon enough, over time this cold turns into heat causing local stagnation of Qi and Blood in the nose.  I know I said it was exciting, but I had to get you this far.

Does Acupuncture work for hay fever? 

Yes it does!  But not all the time.  Or it does, but not immediately.  It helps in the acute stage; acupuncture can lower IgE levels and thus reduce inflammation, exactly what antihistamines do but without the side-effects.  For a long-term affect, the underlying weaknesses that cause hay fever need to be addresses. 

A poor diet is one of the biggest culprits.  Too much sugar weakens the body’s natural defences, which is a bit of a party pooper as that means cutting out alcohol and desserts during the summer.  Everyone is different of course, and hay fever sufferers all experience it in different ways and for different reasons.   If you would like to know if acupuncture can help you, give me a call for a consultation.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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