The days are longer, and pale green buds appear on trees that have been dry, brown sticks for months. The low-hanging clouds of winter start to dissipate, and the sun seems to shine for the first time in months. As the days get warmer, people head back outside after a long season of being cooped up inside by poor weather.
With these changes come other, less favorable ones, such as the return of season allergies, such as hay fever and ragweed allergy. Tissues become mandatory, always at hand. Nasal spray displays take over whole aisles at the pharmacy. The vast array of medications reaches dizzying new levels of complexity. Popping pills is an option, so is toughing out the sneezing, stuffy nose, headaches, runny eyes, and worse. But what if there were another, safer pathway to relief?
Acupuncture is effective at treating seasonal allergies!
What are seasonal allergies?
At the end of winter, trees begin to cycle up to their pollination and reproduction season. Soon after, grass and ragweed come up, each with its own accompanying allergens. Warmer days also mean environmental allergens like mold and dust proliferate. While this productivity is part of the natural life cycle of the plant, the effects on people can be less pleasant.
Whether you’ve been allergic your whole life or developed seasonal allergies later, the physical impacts result from your immune system’s activity. Your body perceives the allergen, in this case, seasonal pollen, as harmful. As a result, your immune system releases chemicals designed to purge your system of the offending material.
More specifically, histamines, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins make you sneeze (getting allergens out of your nose), tear up (flushing allergens from your eyes), and cough (clearing allergens from your airway.) This system works great for short-term impacts of allergens, things you encounter once or only for a few minutes. However, it is not as effective at combating ongoing exposure. In fact, non-stop production of these chemicals can lead to harmful inflammation, fatigue, congestion, and post-nasal drip.
Avoiding allergens, especially seasonal ones, is very challenging. Sometimes, medication, such as antihistamines, can reduce or mitigate the immune response or manage symptoms. But, oftentimes, these medications can cause unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, upset stomach, or worse.
Do I have seasonal allergies?
Many of the symptoms of seasonal allergies overlap with other, more temporary health concerns. Ask yourself: Are you sneezing because of a cold or allergy? Or are you coughing from a virus or allergies?
Your primary care doctor will be able to diagnose you in-depth. However, if your symptoms return yearly at the same time, last longer than a week, and have never included a fever, you may have seasonal allergies. Remember, this broad umbrella term isn’t allergen-specific.
Testing is available to determine which allergen is impacting you specifically. In some cases, if you have an allergy to dust or a specific plant, lifestyle changes may be enough to prevent symptoms. Though, for most allergy sufferers, greater lengths are necessary to find relief. Nevertheless, research shows that acupuncture can be effective at treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
How can acupuncture help?
Luckily, there is another possibility when it comes to addressing allergies, both seasonal and otherwise. Acupuncture can effectively address symptoms and work with the body’s own nervous system to modulate the overactive immune response that brings so much discomfort and distress.
During an acupuncture treatment, an acupuncturist uses fine needles to stimulate specific points on the body, each corresponding to an organ, mental, or physical system. Modern medicine has been researching acupuncture for decades and has concluded that it is effective, even if the exact mechanism of action isn’t clear.
First, scientists found that the acupuncture points correspond to blood vessels and nerve bundles, each with its own cluster of receptors and greater ion exchange capacity. For those interested in acupuncture, this data supports what Chinese practitioners have believed and demonstrated for centuries.
Evidently, acupuncture is one way of manipulating the body’s energy field, whether by focusing it, addressing blockages, or stimulating great activity overall. Furthermore, for patients who suffer from seasonal allergies, acupuncture can both soothe an overactive immune system, as well as address the uncomfortable symptoms that result from allergies, weepy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and headaches.
Certainly, one benefit of acupuncture is that it does not need to be done on a daily basis, unlike most medications or Western treatments. Also, it can also be used with medication therapy as an adjuvant, making medication more effective at a lower dose. All in all, acupuncture carries very few risks in healthy patients, and even people with chronic or serious health conditions can often safely receive acupuncture treatment.
Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!