Understanding How Acupuncture Therapy May Help Your Allergy Symptoms

Allergy season is here again! Pollen, trees, flowers, grass and weeds - those words make some people's eyes water. In recent years, the number of those suffering from allergies seems to be on the rise. What's the cause of these allergies and is there any help with natural remedies? In recent studies, acupuncture therapy has been shown to be just as effective in relieving severe allergies as medication (Chen, 2016). In an attempt to shed some light on this issue, we will explain how we understand and treat allergies from an acupuncturist's point of view.

Acupuncturists treat the body according traditional Chinese medical theory, which views the body in terms of energy pathways - how these pathways get depleted or become stagnant - and when they do, symptoms and illness arise. People with sensitivities to environmental allergens are usually described as having a deficiency in the "Lung Defensive-Energy and/or "Kidney Defensive-Energy" systems. This does not necessarily mean there is a problem with the lung or the kidney organs, but rather, it's the way we describe the pathway of the energy flowing, as well as which organs are affected the most. The "Defensive-Energy" is what protects the body from outside pathogens, allergens and other environmental factors. It's when this "Defensive-Energy" is depleted that the body is easily attacked by allergens.

Coupled with a "Defensive-Energy" depletion, sensitivities could be enhanced when the person's Qi (pronounced "chee" or "key") is incompatible with the energetic properties of the allergen. In other words, there is a clash between the two energies, the energy of the person's body and that of the environmental allergen. Because of this clash, an energetic imbalance and obstruction is created in the person's energy systems. These obstructions, along with the energy depletion, disrupt the normal functioning of the body and symptoms arise in the form of the typical "allergic reaction."

When the allergic person comes into contact with a springtime allergen, the energy imbalance that is created in the Lung-Energy alerts the immune system, and the immune system commands the body's defense system to mobilize and attack the allergen. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the Lung-Energy is strongly connected to the nasal passages as well as the skin. So, those parts of the body are then left with symptoms of sneezing, itching, mucous and coughing. These are all defense system weapons that our body creates to protect itself. Unfortunately, while the body is protecting itself from this harmless substance, the allergic person is miserable and suffering. And, according to a systematic review of literature by the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, acupuncture therapy could be a safe and valid method of treating allergic rhinitis (Feng, 2015).

In contrast, when a non-allergic person comes into contact with an allergen, their body's Defensive-Energy is strong and easily protects the body from the harmless substance. This normal response to the allergen takes place because the energy system of the non-reactive person is not clashing with the allergen's energy at all. This person does not experience the allergic reaction because their body's energy is not being negatively impacted by the allergen.

So, what makes some people's Defensive-Energy depleted, or incompatible, with certain substances in the first place? There are a few reasons why people develop energy imbalances that create allergies. Heredity plays a great role as people may inherit constitutional weaknesses resulting in allergic tendencies. In addition, during pregnancy, the energy system of the developing embryo could be affected by exposure to internal toxins arising in the woman's body from illnesses or toxic exposure, serious disease, malnutrition, physical or emotional trauma.

These factors could influence the development of the baby's energy system, thus predisposing them to sensitivities upon birth. Sometimes, allergies manifest immediately, and at other times and for other people, allergies may not manifest until a later date. The usual culprits for triggering allergic reactions later in life are: stress, trauma, disease, serious illnesses, excessive medication, emotional factors, radiation, toxic exposure and lowered immune function. These factors subtly change the energy dynamics of the body, thereby creating the possibility of disharmony between the body and certain substances.

Most people suffering from allergies feel hopeless as they approach the allergy season. But, it doesn't have to be that way because there is help for people suffering with allergies! While allergy medicines certainly offer some relief of symptoms, the root of the problem is usually not addressed. The Defensive-Energy depletion and incompatible energies between the body and allergen could be helped through the use of acupuncture and herbs. By harmonizing and strengthening the body's energy systems, the body becomes balanced, stronger and more compatible with the energy of the allergen. This brings about a more normal body function, which ultimately results in diminishing the allergic reaction. Experiencing less allergies frees the person to live a fuller and more enjoyable life.

Dr. Nicole V. Rotondi, DACM, LAc. is a NYS licensed acupuncturist with a doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. She has been practicing full-time for almost 20 years, and her practice is located in St. James and Hauppauge, NY. She specializes in allergy treatments for children and adults. For an appointment or more info, call 631-360-8100.

Citations: Chen, Y., Jin, X., Yu, M., Fang, Y., & Huang, L. (2016). Acupuncture for moderate to severe allergic rhinitis: A non-randomized controlled trial. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 22(7), 518-524. doi:10.1007/s11655-016-2453-x ; Feng, S., Han, M., Fan, Y., Yang, G., Liao, Z., Liao, W., & Li, H. (2015). Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy, 29(1), 57-62. doi:10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116s