As the seasons change here in Philadelphia, we get to experience the beautiful buds of spring or the gorgeous foliage of the fall…but, many of us also get to experience seasonal allergies. It’s estimated that more than 35 million Americans suffer from sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and itchy, watery and red eyes each year as pollen from trees, flowers, grass and plants circulates in the seasonal breezes. The impact is especially significant here in the Philadelphia area where we experience seasonal temperature swings and the oh-so-familiar yellow pollen dustings.
As you may know, acupuncture has long been used to bolster and regulate the immune system, including this reaction to seasonal environmental allergies. In fact, in a research study of 26 hay fever patients published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture was able to reduce allergy symptoms in all 26 patients without damaging side effects. Another study of about 70 patients showed that symptoms could be totally eliminated in more than half of the patients, with just two acupuncture treatments.
In an interview with the website WebMD, Dr. James Dillard, clinical advisor to Columbia University’s Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, says “Acupuncture can be particularly useful if you are suffering from multiple allergies, since it works to quiet the areas of the immune system that are overstimulated by exposure to multiple irritating factors.”
I see many patients from all over the Philadelphia region suffering from seasonal allergies here at Empirical Point. Using a customized regimen of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we are able to work together – these patients and I – to tailor a treatment that can have an important health impact and bring much-needed relief. For example, the use of Chinese herbs as an internal medicinal intervention, when prescribed correctly, is a great way to start to move the chronic congestion or relieve a runny nose. Most of the herbs used for this condition are generally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory to help shrink the swelling in the nasal passages and to eliminate mucus and phlegm. Depending on the severity of the congestion I have also successfully used herbal nasal drops to help drive out more stubborn presentations. You may not know this, but while acupuncture is used to address the local symptoms, I also use it to work to correct the underlying imbalance that causes a patient’s immune system to trigger an inappropriate over-reaction to our outdoor environment
So, as spring approaches, please do take a few moments to savor the warmer breezes and to stop and smell the flowers…but, if seasonal allergies make you sneezy and wheezy this time of year, you may want to plan on a consultation or treatment soon!