Those who suffer from allergies and chronic pain throughout the season often turn to over-the-counter medicines despite common side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness, dryness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, and digestive disturbance. These medications suppress your immune system and can even cause chemical dependency. Worse still, Medicinal treatment of allergies targets only the symptoms and not the root cause. Those who seek a natural and effective alternative need search no further than Traditional Chinese Medicine.
What TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Can Treat:
Allergies and Traditional Chinese Medicine
The prime objective behind Traditional Chinese Medicine is complete relief from acute symptoms in addition to the correction of root energy imbalances that are causing those symptoms. Most allergy symptoms are related to underlying disharmonies involving Wei Qi (or defensive energy), Spleen Qi, and Kidney Qi - all of which I explain below.
Wei Qi and Lung Qi: With Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), illness prevention begins by fortifying the protective layer around the exterior of the body called Wei Qi, or your defensive energy. A strong and healthy Wei Qi is your body’s initial protection against all external pathogens. If defensive energy is weak, “wind pathogens” transmitted through the air will enter the body. This combination of wind borne pathogens and a deficient Wei Qi is a recipe for illness. People with Wei Qi deficiency catch colds easily and allergy symptoms may be particularly bad in windy seasons such as the spring or the fall.
Patients with seasonal allergies, chronic cough and/or recurrent colds and flu are also likely to have lung deficiencies, since Wei Qi and immune function are part of the lung’s energy. Lung Qi controls the domain of the skin, lungs, nose, sinuses, and respiratory passages.
Spleen Qi: Behind every weak immune system is a Spleen Qi deficiency. The spleen is an integral part of the digestive system. It is the job of the spleen to transform food into healthy energies. If Spleen Qi is weak, it is unable to efficiently distribute this healthy Qi throughout the systems of your body. Thus the immune system suffers. Spleen Qi deficiency is usually accompanied by dampness: fluids fail to metabolize and often end up turning into excess phlegm and mucus. An absence of Spleen Qi coupled with dampness is a common underlying condition with allergy symptoms.
Kidney Qi: The root of constitutional and all other energy systems in the body is Kidney Qi. Thus Kidney Qi deficiencies are most often related to deficiency imbalances. In such cases that allergies, asthma, or chronic respiratory illnesses have been problems since childhood, your Kidney Qi must be addressed. It is also important to note that kidney energy is damaged by long-term medication use.
Allergies & Chinese Herbal Medicine
There are many Chinese herbs that restore Qi and enhance the immune system so that it can battle seasonal allergies. For best results and safety, herbal formulas should only be prescribed by professionally trained herbalists. The formulas I prescribe will address each patient’s unique presentation of symptoms and thus vary greatly from case to case.
Allergies and Lifestyle: Survival Tips
The following suggestions may help minimize suffering:
- Minimize exposure to your allergens. Check local news for forecasts and current pollen levels, and stay indoors when pollen count or humidity is high. The morning is prime pollen time – especially when dry and windy. Plan outdoors activities for later in the day, or after a good rain.
- Keep windows shut when the pollen count is high. Including those in your house and car. Use air conditioning if possible, or keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or an electrostatic precipitator may also help clean pollen and mold from the indoor air.
- Don’t hang laundry outside. Since pollen may cling to towels and sheets, wash all bedding every 7 to 14 days in indoor washer and dryer units. Also, remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Avoid mowing the grass, pulling weeds or raking leaves. If you must do these, wear a mask to filter pollen and molds from the air.
- Plan vacations where pollen isn’t prevalent. A good choice is the beach.
- Swim for exercise. In fact, you’ll find one of the purest concentrations of air in the ten to 15 inch layer right above the water, and the gentle humidity keeps your airways from drying out. If you exercise outdoors, use a neti pot before and after exercising to get rid of dust, pollen, and mucus from your nose.
Diet and Supplements for Allergy Season
A well-balanced healthy diet will keep your immune system going strong. More specifically, it is best to minimize (or avoid) cow’s milk and other dairy products as they contribute to the production of phlegm and mucus. Overindulgence in simple carbohydrates and sweets can also contribute to allergies, since cause damage to Spleen Qi.
Incorporate Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These can be found in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other cold-water fish. Yet consume fish with high mercury levels in moderation – such as tuna – in moderation. Pregnant women especially. Check the USDA website for more information on mercury in fish.
Flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and canola oil are high in Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), which the body converts to Eicosa-Pentaenoic Acid (EPA), the form found in fish.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The best time to get treated for seasonal allergies is before they show up. Start a treatment program that includes acupuncture and Chinese herbs 6-8 weeks before symptoms typically start for you. This helps boost the immune system and prevents symptoms from appearing since your underlying energies will be strong and resilient. However, if allergy symptoms are already bothering you, start treatment as soon as possible for best results.
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With TCM, asthma can be carefully controlled through the use of acupuncture, herbs and dietary analysis.
The Asthma Attack
Asthma attacks are instigated by an excess in the body. The trigger that causes the attack is something that is not supposed to be in the body, and the asthma sufferer’s body responds with an asthma attack. These triggers are called external evils in TCM. The more frequently the external evils attack the body, the weaker the body becomes. The body is like an army that is attacked over and over again by the asthma trigger, sometimes without fully replenishing its resources. This can cause a vacuity or a weakness in the patient’s body leaving it even more vulnerable to future attacks sometimes making them more frequent and intense.
State of Depletion – the state of the patient’s body and health
The period between the attacks show the state of patient’s true body strength and ability to fend off the trigger. This tends to be a state of weakness or vacuity in asthma patients. This is the time for the patient to replenish the resources that were depleted due to the asthma attack. There are occasional instances where phlegm can become lodged in the lungs. This is called a mixed pattern of vacuity (state of the patient’s body) and repletion (an abundance of phlegm making a home in the lungs). The overall treatment goal at this stage is to strengthen the body (fill the vacuity) so that the attacks are less frequent and less intense because the body is stronger. Phlegm can be dislodged from the lungs while simultaneously strengthening them. This will make the patient’s life easier and much more enjoyable because he/she does not have to take so much time off from work or time out of recreational activities.
Is your asthma getting in the way your life?
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Asthma
Giving acupuncture and cupping during an asthma attack can help to calm the patient down and to aid in opening up the chest muscles to provide easier breathing. Acupuncture can help to shorten the length and severity of the asthma attack.
It is more common to treat people when they are in the remittent state. The goal of the treatment during this stage is to supplement the body with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary changes in order to strengthen the body’s qi. If there is some phlegm lodged in the lungs and some cough and wheezing during this time, relieving those symptoms are also part of the treatment. The diet is analyzed to see if what the patient is eating is exacerbating the asthma attacks. In general, it is best to stick to a diet that consists of whole foods that are not prepackaged or fast food. Whole, organic, real foods have less/no additives and have better qi. The more healthy the qi of the food you put into your body, the stronger your body’s defenses and the better able your lungs will be to resist your asthma trigger. Try to keep dairy intake to a minimum as TCM dietary theory states that dairy products can exacerbate phlegm production. A qualified, well-trained TCM practitioner will be able to diagnose your vacuity pattern correctly and get you on the path to a better quality of life! (more)
Seattle Air Quality & Differences in Seasonal Air
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It indicates the level of air pollution and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI highlights health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, the EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health.
The worse the air quality is, the worse your asthma could become due to the fact that more particulate matter in the air increases irritation and inflammation to mucus membranes. Here is a link (http://www.pscleanair.org/airq/aqi.aspx ) to the daily AQI. Another thing to consider is if you are affected by the air of the different seasons. Does damp cold winter trigger your asthma? Warm dry summer air? How about spring air that is full of pollen? Take the seasons into account to see when you should be taking more of a break from the outdoors as opposed to being more active. Speak with your practitioner about what your triggers are so that your attacks can be minimized. (more)
2 Wiseman, Nigel & Ye, Fang (1998) A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. Paradigm Publications: Brookline, MA.
3 Wu, Yan (1997). Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Paradigm Publications: Brookline, MA.
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The use of acupuncture to relieve pain is well established in America. In fact, it is the most common use of acupuncture outside of China, today. Modern medical technology has revealed that the insertion of acupuncture needles causes measurable physiological changes like the release of pain-relieving beta-endorphins in surrounding tissue. However, the effects of such treatments are often short-lived if the root cause of the pain is not treated.
For patients suffering from arthritis, whether it is arthritis of the knee, hip, shoulder, hand or back, we aim to treat the body as a whole, and not just focus on treating the obvious symptoms. The majority of our arthritis patients suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis (arthropathic psoriasis), which are autoimmune disorders. Hence, our treatments not only focus on controlling the painful symptoms of arthritis, but also on balancing the immune system. The majority of our patients see immediate results in just a few treatments and experience positive long term benefits. Depending on the specific situation, we may recommend traditional acupuncture or a combination of acupuncture and exercise in accordance with our philosophy.
Help us spread the word about acupuncture by writing a testamonial!
- In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that acupuncture treatment reduced pain and improved joint function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. (more)
- In mice induced with arthritis, acupuncture stimulation had anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and immuno-regulatory effects. (more)
- A review of literature, concluding that “acupuncture has a place in the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain.” (more)
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Backpain is temporary and will often get better with time. For the rest, back pain may be a chronic disease that prevents the pursuit of a normal life. The advantage of using acupuncture to treat back pain is that acupuncture not only relieves the pain temporarily, but in many cases, it can also effectively treat the root cause of the pain. In this way, acupuncture can benefit even those who suffer from severe, chronic back pain.
Depending on the cause and severity of the pain, and the overall health of the patient, we will develop a treatment plan consisting of traditional acupuncture or a combination of acupuncture and exercises in accordance with our Active Acupuncture philosophy. Many of our patients see immediate results, increased mobility, and less pain in just several treatments.
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Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and migraines come in many different flavors. Acupuncture, even when performed by the novice practitioner, is effective in providing temporary relief from the common symptoms of headaches and migraines. However, in order to provide lasting relief, the overall health of the body and the root cause of the headaches must be elucidated. Headaches and migraines can be caused by something as benign as a tense neck or by something much more insidious, such as a hormone imbalance. In our years of experience we have treated a wide array of headache and pain related disorders and our patients typically see results in just a few sessions.
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Depending on the cause and severity of the pain, and the overall health of the patient, we will develop a treatment plan consisting of traditional acupuncture or a combination of acupuncture and exercises in accordance with our philosophy. Many of our patients see immediate results, increased mobility, and less pain in just several treatments.
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Every fibromyalgia case is unique and there are many factors that cause it. We urge you to come in for and examination. Acupuncture is commonly used to treat pain, but it is also great for reducing fatigue and anxiety, which are common symptoms for many people who suffer from fibromyalgia. The majority of our fibromyalgia patients have been women. Because we are specialists in women’s health, we are able to help with the female-specific nuances of the disorder.
Scientific Literature on Fibromyalgia
Key points from recent publications:
- A randomized, prospective, placebo-controlled, partially-blind study of 50 fibromyalgia patients concluded that acupuncture not only relieved pain but also had significant beneficial effects for fatigue and anxiety.
We can significantly increase your chances of conception if your infertility is due to:
- Irregular and Annovulatory Menstrual Cycles
- Luteal Phase Defect LPD
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease PID
- Premature Ovarian Failure POF
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS
- Poor Egg Quality
- Thin and Unresponsive Endometrium
- Cervical / Uterine Factors
- Immunological Factors
- Fallopian Tube Factors
- Ovulation Factors
Acupuncture is able to increase the chances of pregnancy through natural conception, IVF, IUI, and other ARTs because it has been clinically shown to:
- Regulate and stabilize hormone levels
- Help produce more follicles
- Increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries by lowering impedence
- Thicken the endometrial lining
- Reduce the chance of miscarriage
- Strengthen the immune system and the overall health of the body
- Reduce stress
- Absorb nutrients and maintain ideal weight
- Faciliate relaxation
- Improve the quality of sleep
- Have NO side effects – does not introduce toxicity to you and your baby
We have compiled a question and answer on acupuncture for infertility. If you have any additional questions that you would like answered please contact us.
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Typically, 1 week of treatment consisting of 3 acupuncture sessions will completely eliminate nicotine cravings.
The role of acupuncture in nicotine cessation isn’t limited to reducing cravings. Acupuncture has also been proven to promote relaxation and better sleep. Moreover, acupuncture can be used to treat many disorders associated with smoking, such as damage to the bronchopulmonary and cardiovascular systems and the symptoms from nicotine withdrawal. In our experience, the effectiveness of acupuncture varies with many factors, including the length of time the patient has been smoking, their overall health, and the frequency of treatment. In many cases, we will also use auricular (ear) acupuncture to help the patient retain the effects of acupuncture between treatments.
In an official report, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the diseases that have been clinically proven to be effectively treatable by acupuncture.
- neck pain
- tennis elbow
- knee pain
- facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
- dental pain
- tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
- rheumatoid arthritis
- induction of labor
- correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation)
- morning sickness
- lower back pain
- renal colic
- adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy (cancer)
- allergic rhinitis, including hay fever
- biliary colic
- nausea and vomiting
- postoperative pain
- the scope of this list shows that acupuncture is effective in treating a wide range of illnesses. In our experience, acupuncture and exercise can treat a far wider range of ailments. Contact us (link to contact us page) if you would like to inquire about treatment for a disorder not listed here.
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