What are Allergies?
Allergies are a very common problem. More than 50 million Americans suffer from various types of allergies. One out of every eleven visits to a doctor's office is somehow connected to allergy symptoms. Out of the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, 35 million of that population has allergic rhinitis, also known as Hay fever. Allergic rhinitis is the single most common chronic disease experienced by Americans today. One third of all people in the U.S. have at least one type of allergy.
Fifteen million Americans, seven percent of the population, suffer from asthma, and the most common cause of asthma is allergies. Asthma is also the number six cause for hospitalization in the U.S., and the number one cause for hospitalization among children. The U.S. economy spends an estimated $4.5 billion per year and as many as 5,000 Americans die from Asthma each year.
Allergies are caused from the immune system overreacting to certain antigens, called allergens, in the body's system. An allergen is the main trigger of an allergy. Typically, an allergen is the reaction of one's immune system to something that is harmless to other people. People who have allergies are often sensitive to more than one thing. Allergens that often cause reactions are pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, food, insect stings, and medicines.
Signs & Symptoms of Allergies
Most allergic reactions are mild. Symptoms include watery, itchy eyes, possible conjunctivitis or red eyes, runny and itchy nose with sneezing, nasal congestion, itching of the skin and roof of the mouth, and swelling and redness of the skin in blotches also known as hives.
People who suffer from hay fever often have other types of allergic conditions as well. This includes allergic asthma, atopic dermatitis or eczema. For instance, some people with hay fever will go on to develop asthmatic attacks if the hay fever is bad enough or lasts long enough. Asthma refers to difficulty breathing accompanied by wheezing and coughing. Some people also develop sinusitis or infection and inflammation of the sinus cavities secondary to a bout of hay fever. Other symptoms associated with hay fever include frontal headaches (due to sinus congestion), irritability, and loss of appetite, depression, and insomnia.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology new research found Traditional Chinese Medicine safely and effectively treats patients with persistent atopic dermatitis or eczema. This study could lead more physicians to prescribe Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to treat this allergic condition.
The traditional Chinese medical term for allergic rhinitis is bi qiu, or sniveling nose. This refers to the runny nose characteristic of allergic rhinitis. Nasal congestion, itchy nose, and red and itchy eyes are a few of the main symptoms of allergic rhinitis that are also effectively treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine. In other words, although allergic rhinitis is a modern western medical disease, Chinese doctors have been treating people with the symptoms of allergic rhinitis for thousands of years.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest healing practices in the world. TCM is widespread throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. TCM is a comprehensive system of health care with a continuous history of over 3000 years and pre dates modern western medicine by several thousand years.
This ancient health care system is proving itself as an effective modality for a wide spectrum of medical conditions and diseases. TCM emphasizes a holistic approach to health for the whole person rather than only focusing on one particular symptom as if it were isolated from the rest of the mind and body. TCM is about prevention and strengthening the body's own self regulation system, therefore restoring the body's balance. Patients are diagnosed according to the unique symptoms of each individual, their disease pattern, and their individual constitution.
The practice of TCM may include acupuncture, herbology, Tuina Chinese massage, QiGong which is a breathing and stretching exercise to help increase oxygen and promote blood flow, and nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.
The benefits of acupuncture are recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment for over forty common disorders such as rhinitis, allergies, sinusitis, colds and flu, asthma, nausea, constipation, prostatitis, menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, PMS, infertility, pain associated with back, neck, shoulder and wrist, TMJ, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, IBS, depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines, post stroke paralysis, stop smoking, and stress.
In addition, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been used for centuries throughout Asia to treat hundreds of other problems.
How does Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine work?
Modern Western medicine cannot yet explain how acupuncture works. Traditional Asian acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of qi (chee or chi), a fine, essential substance which nourishes and constructs the body. The flow of qi follows distinct pathways that cover the body somewhat like nerves and blood vessels. According to this theory, acupuncture adjusts the flow of qi in the body, leading it to areas where it is insufficient and draining it from areas where it is stuck and / or super abundant. In this way, acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts.
When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturists today use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles. That way, there is virtually no chance of infection or contagion.
Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, and their insertion is practically painless. It is nothing like receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. In others, there may be some tingling, warmth, heaviness, or a feeling of the qi moving up and down the channels. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing, and many fall asleep during treatment.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine is the main modality or treatment method within TCM. Although acupuncture was the first Chinese modality to gain wide acceptance is the West, Chinese herbal medicine is quickly establishing itself as one of the most popular and effective alternative therapies in the West.
Does Chinese herbal medicine have side effects?
There can be side effects from anything. However, if the formula has been correctly chosen and properly applied by a trained TCM practitioner, according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, there should be no negative side effects, only beneficial healing results. If a patient experiences any discomfort while taking Chinese herbs, they should tell their practitioner, who will then modify their formula. Most of the medicinal in the Chinese material medica have a very low toxicity compared to common, over the counter Western drugs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is not just for adults it is also safe for kids.
Caution: The improper use of Chinese Herbal Medicine can be dangerous. Please consult with a licensed acupuncturist before taking any herbal products.
TCM is extremely effective when applied properly and when used in conjunction with other medical and natural health sciences such as chiropractic care, exercise, and nutritional therapies.
What is a typical acupuncture treatment for Hay Fever like?
When treating Hay fever it depends on each individual and how bad their allergies are as well as how fast they respond to each treatment. A normal course may be anywhere between 6 to 24 treatments in the acute stage with treatments being two to three times a week. After the acute stage, treatments may be spread out depending on the individual's progress.
If you are one of the increasing numbers of those who suffer from allergies and are tired of over the counter medications which offer only temporary relief and possible side effects, then explore TCM and get longer lasting results.
Barry L. Gommer Jr. L.Ac. Is a licensed Acupuncturist and an Oriental Medicine Practioner specializing in Chinese Medical Therapies? He has been studying martial arts for the past twenty years with the majority of the training with Yees Hung Ga International Kung Fu Association where he currently holds a 3rd degree black belt, is an instructor with the association and governing board member. Barry brings his twenty years of martial arts training, his background in fitness and Traditional Chinese Medicine to help each person improve their overall mind and body health.