Ahhh…daffodils, robins and budding trees. It’s spring! We must rejoice…right? Well, most of us will happily greet this warming up and greening of our surroundings, however for the 35 million Americans that suffer from seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and dry or itchy eyes, the welcome is far more reluctant. And, this year, it’s even worse. Our very mild winter and early warm temperatures mean an earlier bloom for many flowers, plants and trees, which – you guessed it – can mean earlier and increased amounts of pollen and more seasonal allergies. In fact, CBS 2 in Chicago just did an interesting segment on what this year’s early spring means for allergy sufferers – you can see it here. So, what’s a spring-lover to do? Well, acupuncture could be the answer. Acupuncture has been shown to be a safe and effective way to combat the symptoms of seasonal allergies. In 2004, a study published by Allergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that patients treated with acupuncture for six weeks and given a Chinese herbal medicine formula to take daily saw improvement in their allergy symptoms, higher energy levels and improved emotional well-being. The study was covered, along with tips about how acupuncture can be used to treat allergies in this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. In acupuncture, there are seven key pressure points that can help bring relief to seasonal allergy sufferers. By focusing on these points, an acupuncturist can help relieve and reduce symptoms like runny nose and sinus pain or headache. Six of these points are found on your face and the seventh is on your left foot. To get started, you can even stimulate these pressure points on your own – here’s a recent Huffington Post health blog post that tells you how. Chinese herbal treatments can also help. I have worked with patients for years to not only treat the symptoms of their seasonal allergies – which in Traditional Chinese Medicine are sometimes referred to as the “branches” – but also to strengthen their overall systems throughout the year – or the “root”. Herbs that can be used for seasonal allergies include butterbur, which is known in Chinese herbal medicine as ping hua feng dou cai and was featured in a recent paper in British Medical Journal. The study showed that butterbur, when taken four times daily, can be just as effective as antihistamine drugs in controlling hay fever symptoms, but without a drowsiness side effect. Other Chinese herbal medicinals used to treat seasonal allergies include Cocklebur Fruit, or cang er zi, and Angelica Root, also known as bai zhi. Now, go enjoy this glorious weather!