According to traditional Chinese medicine, the best time to treat winter diseases is summer, and the best time to treat summer diseases is winter. So if you suffer from seasonal allergies such as hay fever, now is the ideal time to start thinking about taking preventative measures.
Although your allergy symptoms may still be a few months away, starting treatment now could help to nip them in the bud. This is because of the way allergies affect your immune system.
Allergies are caused by your body overreacting to normally harmless substances such as pollen. When your immune system comes into contact with these allergens, it triggers an inflammatory response which leads to the irritating symptoms of sneezing, itchy eyes, sore throat and runny nose.
By preparing your immune system in advance, you can help to reduce your risk of developing allergies later in the year.
Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies
Acupuncture is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine. It uses fine needles inserted at specific points on the body to treat disease and maintain health. It can be used to improve your immune function and reduce allergy symptoms.
Acupuncture for seasonal allergies works in a number of ways. Research studies have shown that it can help to regulate levels of two of the chemicals involved in allergic reactions, IgE and cytokines.
Acupuncture also has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. This means that even if your allergy symptoms have already kicked in, acupuncture can offer you some relief. It also promotes circulation in the local area which can help to reduce swelling and pain.
Another way that acupuncture can help seasonal allergies is by reducing emotional stress. Stress has been linked to allergy flare-ups and could be a contributing factor to your symptoms. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress by balancing the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, your body's natural opiates. These have the dual action of relieving pain and relaxation, giving you a feeling of general well-being.
When you go for treatment, your acupuncturist might choose to use some points in the areas where you have symptoms, along with points elsewhere on your body to help balance your immune system and relieve stress. The exact treatment will depend on your individual symptoms and constitution.
Acupressure for Seasonal Allergies
If you are already suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms, there are a few great points you can try using at home with acupressure.
Acupressure works in a similar way to acupuncture, but uses finger pressure rather than needles. This is a safe and convenient way to give yourself a “first aid” treatment or top up between acupuncture sessions. The best points for seasonal allergies are:
LI 20 (Welcome Fragrance)
Location: In the crease running between the corner of your mouth and the edge of your nose, level with the flare of the nostrils.
Method: Place your index fingers on the points on both sides of your nose. Take a few deep breaths then press down on the points until you feel a firm but comfortable pressure. Continue to breathe deeply while holding the points for 1-2 minutes, then release.
Benefits: Relieves a blocked up or runny nose
ST 1 (Tear Container)
Location: Underneath the eye, in a small notch in the orbital bone. The point lies directly below the pupil when looking straight ahead.
Method: Find the points on both sides with your index fingers. Close your eyes and very gently press down on the point, taking care not to put any pressure on the eyeballs. Hold for 1-2 minutes while breathing deeply, then release.
Benefits: Relives red, swollen, painful or itchy eyes
CV 22 (Celestial Chimney)
Location: At the base of the throat, in the centre of the groove between the inner ends of the collar bones.
Method: Use your index finger or thumb to press down on the point until you feel a comfortable pressure. If the point feels tender, ease off a little. Hold for 1-2 minutes while breathing deeply, then release.
Benefits: Relieves sore throat, wheezing and cough