If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may be starting to feel the early twinges of springtime allergies. Since our winter is wrapping up rather mildly in Eastern Washington (I’m sorry east coast), field burning and pollen are starting to affect our air quality. In a previous post, “Spring time allergies? Start Treating Them In the Winter,” I discussed how the ideal treatment plan for seasonal allergies is to treat the allergies for a full season before your trouble season (roughly twelve weeks of treatment). The goal of doing this season before treatment is to try to eventually cure your seasonal allergies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that over two to three years of treating one’s seasonal allergies the season before, that such allergies can be overcome. Many of us don’t play that kind of long game in the western world.
If you have not been treating your springtime allergies of the winter, now is the time to try to get ahead of the coming pollen onslaught. In East Asian medicine, there are three excellent treatment modalities to help you minimize your springtime allergies: herbal treatment, cupping therapy, and acupuncture.
Chinese herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years with an excellent track record for blending herbs into formulas for a wide variety of health concerns. We have a handful of centuries old base formulas for seasonal allergies. A base formula is the original formula crafted by the ancient healers and has withstood the test of time into our modern age of medicine. Base formulas are often modified to individualize the formula for you specifically. It is rare that anyone fits a textbook model of a health concern– just look at the many manifestations of seasonal allergies. One person can suffer from dry, itchy eyes, itchy throat with little congestion, while another has predominantly congestion symptoms, such as stuffy nose, phlegm in the back of the throat, and blocked sinuses. Each of these manifestations of seasonal allergies requires a different formula. It is important to find the formula that fits your symptoms and matches you as an individual.
There is even a base formula ideal for living in a windy climate carrying pollen, dust, and other air contaminates to your sensitive lungs. The idea behind this formula is to strengthen your immune system’s ideal function — meaning if your immune system is strong, it inherently knows when it is exposed to a real threat versus the non-threatening pollen of a geranium or black locust tree.
We provide herbs in easy to take powdered form called ‘granules.’ You take granules by adding hot water, stirring until the herbs fully dissolve, then sip it or knock it back in one gulp. It all depends on how you feel about the flavor. Some formulas taste better than others.
Cupping therapy historically spans the globe. Cupping exists/ed in Russia, Greece, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Africa, et cetera besides East Asia. Cupping helps dredge toxins from your fat stores and metabolic wastes from your muscles. Some of the toxins come out through your skin and the rest is brought into the lymphatic system to eventually be removed by your kidneys.
China and Russia have two excellent cupping procedures for seasonal allergies. In Chinese medicine, you place very strong cups over the lungs on the middle and upper back. The cups are left in place for 15-20 minutes. This technique is often done once a week the season prior to allergies and/or once a week during the allergy season for maintenance of allergy symptoms.
The Russian cupping method is excellent for seasonal allergies, but is also a technique for general health maintenance. Salve is placed on your back made from food grade oils, like coconut oil. The cups are quickly moved from the low back to shoulder in nine specific moves. It takes about 15 minutes. This method feels like a vigorous massage.
Both techniques theoretically help your body remove toxins and reduce the reactivity of your respiratory system to pollen, smoke, and other airborne contaminants.
Acupuncture utilizes individualized acupuncture points to address your unique presentation of allergies. In Chinese medicine there are many patterns that create allergies in people. Treatment is most effective when we take the time to identify your unique pattern that led to you developing allergies.
Acupuncture points are then chosen accordingly to either strengthen the immune system’s proper functioning or reduce reactivity or a blending of both. It all depends on what we feel in your pulse and tongue diagnosis, paired with the information we glean from your health history during the intake.
Allergies usually respond best when all three modalities listed in the article are utilized.