It may seem odd to talk about acupuncture treatment for hay fever in the autumn – but it’s all about treating the root of the condition with the aim of then having a hay-fever-free summer, as our acupuncturist Tiffany Black explains
Hurrah! The hay fever season is finally over.
Between 10% and 30% of all adults and as many as 40% of children (Pawankar et al, 2013) suffer from hay fever in the UK. For the one in every five people who are afflicted, the spring and summer months can be blighted by hay fever symptoms, or allergic/seasonal rhinitis as it is clinically known.
Then why, I hear you wonder, am I writing an article on hay fever at a time of year when we can finally forget about it? Well, it is all to do with what is called in Chinese Medicine the Ben (root of disease) and the Biao (the branch or surface symptoms).
Power of acupuncture
Acupuncture can be hugely beneficial in relieving the symptoms of hay fever – from itchy eyes and throat, streaming nose, headaches, coughs and sneezing. A clinical trial in 2015 using acupuncture to treat seasonal allergic rhinitis suggested a positive result (Xue et al, 2015). In my experience, patients find relief from their symptoms within one or two treatments of acupuncture. This allows them to reduce, if not eliminate, their dependency on antihistamines and steroids and fully enjoy the summer.
Why treat it now?
Treating the symptoms of hay fever is what acupuncturists see as treating the manifestation of the disease – the Biao or surface symptoms, that is, the acute stage of the disease. However, in order for patients not to suffer again the following year, we need to treat the root cause (Ben) of the disease at the chronic stage. In the case of seasonal rhinitis, the root of the disease can only be treated outside the pollen season and the best time to do this is now in the early autumn.
In Chinese Medicine the Lungs and Kidney energy – known as Lung and Kidney Qi (pronounced chee) – are responsible for protecting us against pathogens. In the case of hay fever, the pathogens are grass seed and pollen.
If our Lung and Kidney Qi is robust then the body can resist the pathogenic factors and we have no symptoms.
However, if the body’s resistance has been weakened, the struggle between our immune system and the external pathogen is too much and it triggers the body’s inflammatory response leading to all or some of the symptoms we associate with hay fever.
Achieving long-term change
As acupuncturists we want to effect long-lasting change and restore balance to the body. But long-term change is only possible when we treat the root of the disease.
It may seem unnecessary to come for treatment when we are not suffering, but the joy of preventative treatment is that it boosts all of the body’s immune response. This means having treatment now for hay fever will also make you less susceptible to winter colds and flu – so it is a win-win situation.
- Pawankar R, C. G. et al (2013) The WAO White Book on Allergy, World Allergy Organisation
- Xue C.C., Zhang A.L., Zhang C.S., DaCosta C., Story D.F., and Thien F.C. (2015) ‘Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial’, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, October, vol 115, no 4, pp317-24