I think it is safe to say that approximately 80% of the patients that we treat in our clinic have allergies. Other than back pain, it is the most common ailment we treat. Typical symptoms are a runny nose, itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, or more serious problems such as reoccurring sinus infections. It is obvious that over the counter and prescribed medications are not very effective in solving this ubiquitous Washington State disease.
Can acupuncture help allergies?
Chinese medicine, including herbs and acupuncture, offer a more curative approach to the problem of allergies. In Chinese medicine there are several different types of allergies. The most common is what we call a Wind Heat attack. This is the type of allergy where the patient has a stuffy nose, thick phlegm, and red, burning, itchy eyes. Another type is called Wind Cold. The symptoms of this type of allergy are a runny nose, slight chills, and a lot of loose phlegm. Another type is called Lung Heat. In this case the patient has a very plugged up sinus problem, with head pressure, swollen tissue, dry phlegm that is stuck and a hot sensation in the head and upper body. This type almost always leads to a sinus infection. The last, and most common type of classification, is called Lung Deficiency with External Wind. In this case the patient can have any one of the above symptoms with the added symptom of fatigue due to a weak immune system.
What is interesting is that every different type of Chinese allergy diagnosis receives totally different herbs to solve the problem. This is the genius of this medicine. The patient just doesn’t have a generic allergy to dust mites, pollen, or mold. The allergy the patient has in not defined by what the patient is allergic to but how the allergy specifically affects the patient. The same allergen, such as dust mites, can cause a Wind Heat attack in one patient, a Wind Cold attack in another, and a Lung Heat attack in a third patient. Chinese medicine is more sophisticated in distinguishing subtleties of allergies and consequently offers a much greater specificity in treatment.
Chinese medicine for allergies
The most important difference between these two medicines is that Chinese Medicine, on the whole, has a curative approach to the problem while Western Medicine, in most cases, does not. The one curative approach Western Medicine does offer is allergy shots. This approach is probably more effective than medication, but it is time consuming, slow, and quite costly. It is our experience that Chinese Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture are more effective, quicker, and less costly.