Question: I am a man in my mid-40’s. In the past few years, I’ve started to get seasonal allergies in the spring and fall. It seems to get worse each year even with over-the-counter medications. Why? Can Traditional Chinese Medicine help me to eliminate the usage of those drugs and symptoms?
Answer: There are many reasons why your allergies are getting worse: lifestyle, stress level, environment, dietary and immunity imbalances, etc. Taking anti-allergy (histamine) medication is merely to relieve the symptoms, not address the root cause.
Naturally treating the root cause is best. Western medicine considers an allergy to be an immune system disorder. Its challenge is to identify the substances that cause your body to have allergic reactions. Treatments include desensitization, eliminating or avoiding the offending allergens, and drug therapy with antihistamines, steroids and other medicines. This kind of treatment does not help to re-balance and strengthen your body, that’s why your symptoms are getting worse each year.
TCM understands allergies from an energy perspective: the cause of allergy involves Qi (vital energy) deficiency, which can be related to several organs Qi imbalance of the: kidney, liver, lungs or stomach.
The degree to which one (or more) of these organs is deficient in Qi will manifest in symptoms related to that particular organ. For example, prominent symptoms of itchy, red, or watery eyes are related to liver energy imbalance; runny or stuffy nose, or itchy nose, frequent cough, or tightness in the chest are related to a lung energy disorder.
Because seasonal allergies are a condition that occurs mostly in the spring or autumn, sufferers do not connect its origins with the previous season of winter or summer. But if you exhaust most of your Qi during the winter, your body doesn’t have enough Qi left to go through the yearly cyclical energy change when winter turns to spring. When spring arrives, the weakest organ will manifest the most prominent physical symptoms.
TCM treatment: The main objective is to get to the root cause, that is to identify the imbalance and strengthen your body’s Qi or vital energy and allow your immunity to function properly. Therefore, it will rectify allergy symptoms and eliminate the need for drugs. Treatments include Chinese Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture, and Lifestyle and Dietary Guidance.
The first step is to have a qualified TCM practitioner to do a proper assessment and identify the root cause of your allergy issues. After that, He/ She should be able to propose a proper and holistic treatment protocol for you.
Question: My son, aged 5, has had asthma for a few years. His symptoms have worsened over time and he has a runny nose all the time during the change of seasons. Can TCM help patients at this age?
Answer: TCM can certainly work for kids as well as adults. He is showing some symptoms of low immunity, which may be translated as a deficiency of lung and kidney Qi. Deficiency of spleen (digestive system) qi or poor eating habits may also contribute to low immunity as it prevents proper absorption of nutrients.
TCM Treatment: A TCM practitioner will do a thorough assessment and propose a treatment protocol for him. The TCM treatments for children may include herbal medicine, cupping, Tui-na (a form of Chinese massage that stimulates acupuncture points without the use of needles) and acupuncture.