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Chinese Herbs For Pollen Allergies, Hay Fever, And Allergic Rhinitis

man sneezing

Studies show that both acupuncture and herbs can relieve common allergy symptoms*. A study in the September 2004 issue of Allergy has concluded that a combination of Chinese herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions is effective in relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. The authors suggest that future research be conducted to investigate the effectiveness of various acupuncture-herb combinations in the treatment of these conditions.

Curing Allergies

Allergic rhinitis can be triggered by a variety of relatively harmless substances such as pollen, dust, mold, or animal dander. Usually, allergic rhinitis is seasonal and typically occurs at the same time each year when certain plants are in bloom.

Some practitioners believe that allergies can be cured. Curing allergies with Chinese medicine requires understanding and re-balancing the underlying patterns of disharmony which differ from person to person. Though several patterns are commonly diagnosed, Wind patterns are almost always part of the diagnosis. Wind is usually combined with another pathogen thereby creating Wind Dampness, Wind Cold, or Wind Heat. Typically, wind patterns occur without warning. In seasonal allergies the most common diagnosis is wind and dampness. This combination produces a sudden onset of symptoms: sneezing, itching eyes and throat, and a heavy sensation in the head, often with a lot of mucus. Acupuncture and herbal remedies have been used for millenia to ease symptoms of airborne allergies. See your acupuncturist if you suffer these symptoms; though it may be possible to treat yourself with Chinese herbs.

Treatment with Herbs

The treatment strategy is to repel the wind using herbs that are dispersing. You can use herbs such as XIN YE HUA magnolia buds , JING JIE Japanese catnip, GE GEN common kudzu root, or FANG FENG Siler divaricata. Herbs that drain dampness are also employed in order to clear the nasal passages and sinuses. Herbs for this purpose include BAI ZHI Angelica dahurica and CANG ER ZI Xanthium sibiricum . The combination of these herbs is known as Xanthium Decoction. Other over-the counter remedies include Dr. Shen's Allergy Pills, Dr. Shen's Sinus Pills, the patent remedies BI YAN PIAN, and Minor Blue Dragon, and Nasal Tabs (made by Health Concerns).

dandelion blowing in the wind

Underlying many allergies is a deficiency of lung and spleen qi. Lung qi is responsible for the proper function of the entire respiratory tract, including the sinuses and nasal passages. Spleen qi controls the transport of fluids; impaired Spleen Qi can lead to an overproduction of mucus, which tends to collect in the lungs. This weakness makes a person susceptible to allergic reactions. Weakened Spleen qi is treated with herbs that bolster lung and spleen function, such as DANG SHEN Codonopsis root, BAI ZHU Atractylodes, FU LING Poria, and ZHI GAN CAO baked licorice.

A commonly used patent medicine is LIU JUN ZI pills Six Gentlemen Teapills. This formula contains BAN XIA Pinellia rhizome and aged CHEN PI aged citrus peel, which clear mucus and dry dampness. A traditional Chinese medicine practitioner may customize the formula to meet a patient's individual needs. For example, JU HUA Chrysanthemum flowers, and JUE MING ZI Cassia seeds can be added to soothe itchy eyes, and DA ZAO jujube dates can be included to enhance the overall antiallergic action of the formula.

* Management of Allergic Rhinitis in the Working-Age Population. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 67. AHRQ Publication No. 03-E013, February 2003. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Brinkhaus R, Hummelsberger J, Kohnen R, et al. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Allergy 2004;59:953-960.

Deadman P. The treatment of allergic rhinitis by acupuncture. J Chin Med 1991;36:25-27.

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