Hay fever is a sensitivity to airborne pollens, dust mites, pets and so much more. Also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, it is an inflammation or swelling of the nose lining with symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, itchy and watery eyes, a runny or blocked nose, itchy ears, nose, and/or throat and headaches.
But then you probably know all of this. But what can Chinese Medicine (CM) bring to the party?
Developed over centuries, the theories of this system of oriental medicine view the problem from the perspective of the immune system rmore than the irritant. CM characterises the body into functional systems (named after major organs such as the liver), and their relative interactions allows us to identify disharmony between these functions. Treatment is aimed at restoring balance.
It is commonly believed that hay fever is due to a weakness of the Lung, Spleen and Kidney systems (which is not quite the same as the organ itself). This can make the body susceptible to the influence of climate – for example wind and cold – which can cause the familiar symptoms of runny nose, itching eyes and irritated sinuses. Think of how your eyes stream when you find yourself in a stiff breeze.
Acupuncture for treating hay fever will often start with points to dispel wind from the nose (not the same as digestive wind), followed by points to strengthen the immune system.
So how effective is the treatment? The British Acupuncture Council have reviewed available evidence (click here) and conclude that ‘evidence from systematic reviews suggests that acupuncture and moxibustion may be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis with benefits over conventional medicine, that acupuncture can help to relieve symptoms of perennial rhinitis and that ear acupressure has a similar efficacy to antihistamines.