by Toni Twitty, M.Ac., Ph.D.c
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture OKC Expert
An allergy occurs when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. This could be anything from something you inhale to something you touch to something you eat. An allergic reaction may cause sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, a running nose, a sore throat and rashes. In severe cases, allergic reactions can induce something known as anaphylactic shock, which can actually be deadly.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly 50 million Americans are affected by nasal allergies. These numbers are increasing too. To date, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Anaphylactic reactions are typically triggered by medications, food and insect stings, with pharmaceuticals causing the most allergy-related deaths. The cost of allergies exceeds $18 billion per year!
There are ways to deal with allergies though. Obviously with life-threatening allergies, a person needs to know what they are allergic to and be very adamant about avoiding those substances. For others who deal with seasonal allergies, things aren’t as dire and the inconvenience of allergies can be navigated using many natural remedies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
TCM is a medical system that has been around for thousands of years. The general theory behind TCM is to treat the patient holistically, taking into account all aspects of the patient’s illness. TCM utilizes many modalities to treat the patient, including acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, formulas, cupping and nutrition. For treating allergies, there are some wonderful herbs and formulas that can be implemented. Here’s a short list of items that can be used to treat non-life-threatening allergies.
1. Reishi or Medicinal Mushrooms: Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries to help with everything from balancing blood sugar to decreasing inflammation. But they are also well-known for their immune-boosting properties. Reishi mushrooms are adaptogenic and they help regulate stress in the body. This is great for allergy sufferers because allergies can be exacerbated by stress.
2. Scutellaria or Huang Qin: This herb is frequently used to treat acute respiratory infections and bronchitis. Two key components of Huang Qin are particularly good at relieving allergic asthma attacks.
3. Saposhnikovia or Fang Feng: Fang Feng is used frequently by TCM practitioners to expel and prevent wind pathogen invasions. So for allergies that prompt headaches and nasal symptoms, this is a great herb to have on hand.
4. Magnolia Flower or Xin Yi Hua: Flowers are used a lot in TCM due to their aromatic nature. Xin Yi Hua is another great herb to have on hand when seasonal allergies flare up. This herb is great at relieving nasal congestion, sinus headaches and the runny nose that frequently accompanies allergies.
5. Cang Er Zi San: This is an herbal formula frequently prescribed for people who are suffering from allergy attacks. Cang Er Zi San works to open up the nasal passageways, helps expel congested mucus, decreases sneezing and helps to alleviate red itchy eyes. It is a go-to herbal formula for TCM practitioners during allergy season.
Herbs can be very beneficial and help keep the body free from illness. The herbs and formulas mentioned above are just a few examples that would be good to have around if you suffer from allergies. Ask us to find out more about these herbs, we can help you navigate the world of medicinal herbs and find the exact combination right for you.