Dear Patients and Friends,

I hope this finds you well.

For many allergy sufferers, February marks the beginning of allergy season. Seasonal allergies are caused by a dis-regulation of the immune system in which the body mounts an attack on allergens (i.e. substances such as dust, mold, and pollen). The all-familiar symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and itchy eyes. These symptoms can last from days to months and recur throughout the year.

Treating Seasonal Allergies – Western vs. Chinese Medicine

Western medicine focuses on the use of antihistamines, decongestants, and other drugs that act on the immune system. While these are effective in treating symptoms, they have undesirable side effects, most notably suppression of the immune system. The purpose of the immune system is to defend the body against infections and diseases. It is made up of a complex network of cells and organs, including the lymph system, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus as well as other organs and tissues. Put simply, the immune system plays a key role in keeping us healthy. So while suppressing the immune system results in diminished allergy symptoms, it is disadvantageous to overall health.

Chinese medicine includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and nutrition to bring balance back to the body. Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomic nervous system that promotes healing. It also reduces symptoms and inflammation (e.g. allergic rhinitis), and balances the immune system so it is less reactive to allergens. Because acupuncture treats the whole body, not just symptoms, patients often experience other benefits from treatment such as better mood and sleep, greater energy, stress reduction and faster recovery from colds and flu. Chinese herbal medicine and dietary therapy support acupuncture treatments by addressing the root cause of allergies, which is different for each person.

Ideally, Chinese medicine treatments should begin six weeks prior to the onset of allergy symptoms. However, it is never too late to start. Initial Chinese medicine treatments may include continued use of Western medicine until the body has adapted and can function well without it.

Self-Care for Seasonal Allergies

In addition to acupuncture, herbal medicine and good nutrition, common-sense practices such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and reducing stress all help to regulate the immune system. You can also take the following steps to reduce your exposure to seasonal allergens:

  • Check weather reports for high pollen counts and close doors and windows when pollen counts are high, such as on windy days.
  • Delegate gardening chores that stir up allergens or wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside – pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Avoid dairy products when you are having nasal congestion, as they produce phlegm.
  • Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

The treatment of allergies constitutes a significant part of my practice and hundreds of patients have experienced long-term relief and improved health.

Feel free to share this e-mail with those you care about. If you no longer wish to receive e-mails from me, kindly let me know.

To Your Health,

Sandra Ludlow LAc, MSOM
Acupuncture and Holistic Medicine Inc.
1283 Gilman Street,
Berkeley CA 94706