By Belinda Bo Xu
When spring and hayfever come around, do you reach out for the antihistamines? If over the counter medication is your only defense against allergies or you are putting up with expensive yearly allergy shots, you have more options than you think.
Over the counter medication may work but the relief is temporary and comes with a price. You may find yourself suffering from side effects such as drowsiness, a loss of taste or even headaches. Such prescriptions are temporary and don’t address the real root causes. Have you also read the disclaimers on the side of a store-bought antihistamine? It makes you question whether these are effective for the long-term.
How Acupuncture Works in Treating Allergies
Acupuncture addresses both symptoms and root causes. It doesn’t just clear the runny nose, the itchy eyes or the constant fatigue, it corrects the imbalances – whatever they may be – and gets you back to optimal balance. When you are sneezing endlessly or are rubbing your eyes till your lids are dry during spring, it means that your immune system is treating airborne pollen as foreign invaders to your system. The same applies to grass and weeds, dust, mold, pets, perfumes, household chemicals. In short, any allergic reaction means you are not in your ideal state of health.
Acupuncture is Customized Treatment
When you are suffering from hayfever or seasonal allergies, acupuncture treats both the local systems – such as a stuffy nose and inability to breathe – and the fundamental imbalances. Unlike in over the counter drugs, there is no one-size fits all when it comes to acupuncture. When a client comes to me, I conduct an overall assessment, including taking the pulse and will ask questions to establish a full medical history. The symptoms you exhibit are likely different from the next client.
For example, you may have frequent headaches and are constantly tearing. Another client may suffer from a dry throat and dry eyes which point to dehydration. In the first case, we would treat to reduce the heat and wind in the body. In the second, we would focus on points on your feet to nourish the blood and increase hydration in your body.
You are likely to get immediate relief through acupuncture. You will find you can breathe better, feel more relaxed and more energetic. However, to fully address your fundamental problems, you are likely to need several sessions. Sometimes, I will recommend combining acupuncture with herbs to faster alleviate your symptoms and to prevent future suffering.
In summary, acupuncture addresses your allergies in two ways:-
- Immediate relief from acute symptoms such as sneezing and nasal congestion. You start feeling better as symptoms decrease in frequency and intensity. No more grabbing through your bag for tissue paper nor rubbing your eyes till they are dry and sore.
- Addressing the long-term weaknesses. As we are working to get you back to optimal health, you will enjoy other benefits. You’ll sleep better, digest better, feel more energetic and optimistic and you’ll handle stress better. Come next season, you will find your tolerance greatly enhanced and improved.
Many of our clients who have been successfully treated come to be for a round of preventive acupuncture. Think of it as a tune-up. Remember that your optimal state can be eroded by stress, bad diet, lack of sleep or insufficient hydration.
Acupuncture for Children
We are noticing that more and more children are suffering from allergies. With kids, it is sometimes hard to tell whether it is seasonal allergies or a childhood virus. Here is what to look out for: dark circles under the child’s eyes or tiny little lines under the eyes point to chronic congestion.
A Case Study by Dr Belinda Xu
In one of our cases, the parents brought in a 6-year old girl who was constantly coughing. Her GP had prescribed cough medication but her symptoms persisted. During my diagnosis, I could smell on her breath that indicated something was wrong with her stomach which was not digesting the food adequately. I chose the correct points to bring the energy in her stomach back to balance, and the symptoms went away.
It is the diagnostic skill of the acupuncturist and the knowledge to pick the most effective pressure points that matter. That is gained from experience. There are many, many ways to treat allergies, but we need to first detect what the root causes are. According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is not the fact that there is pollen blowing around, or that you cannot tolerate peanuts. We need to understand out why your body is rejecting these and why it is behaving as if it is under attack – an allergic reaction is your body’s way of reacting to what it perceives as an external invasion. By not taking a broad-brush approach, by asking questions that relate only to you and your condition, and by being sensitive to what the symptoms are telling us about the root causes, that is how we utilize acupuncture effectively.
Bio: China born and trained acupuncturist, Dr Belinda Bo Xu, practices at TX Health Centre at 2272 Bloor West Village, Toronto, ON M6S 1N9. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Acupuncture and pursued her Masters in Chinese Herbal Medicine at Liaoning University. She was the chief physician at the Liaoning Teaching Hospital in Northeast China and has won top awards from each institution where she has taught including the TCM Institute of Toronto. She has more than 15 years of clinical experience and is a member of the Canadian Society Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. She is also a registered massage therapist.
Like Dr Belinda Bo Xu, Dr Simon Wei was also China born and trained and holds a Bachelors Degree in Acupuncture and a Masters in Acupuncture from Liaoning University. He has more than fifteen years of clinical experience in China and Canada, and was an instructor at the Shiatsu School of Canada and SSC Acupuncture Institute in Toronto when he first moved to Canada. He is a member of the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada and has built a reputation for treating infertility in his private practice.
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