Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergies

Headaches, Respiratory Health

Seasonal Allergies

Every year we are reminded that seasonal allergies are painful and uncomfortable. The symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, sinus pain, fatigue, headache, and watery eyes not only make us miserable, but also affect your productivity at work and school. It is also linked to an increase in depression, insomnia, and anxiety. 

Acupuncture reduces inflammation and balances the immune response in order to reduce allergies.

Seasonal Allergies

Acupuncture for Allergies

Acupuncture is different than taking a pill. Rather than adding a medication that will temporarily block a receptor, histamine in the case of allergies, acupuncture works to regulate the body’s functioning by reducing inflammation and balancing the immune system. This way we can see long-term improvement in your symptoms. 

I like to say that acupuncture helps to reset the body and reminds it how to be healthy. As the balance is achieved, your body is able to maintain a healthy state without medications. So instead of simply suppressing the body’s reaction, it works to correct the root cause of the problem.

Many clinical studies have shown that acupuncture helps to reduce allergy symptoms and that acupuncture in addition to regular care, that is standard medications, reduced allergy symptoms more than medications alone. 

Correcting the Root Imbalance

Chinese medicine views health as a state of balance inside the body, but also between the body and the environment. This makes sense for allergies, allergens in the environment are irritating the body causing imbalances. By removing the imbalance, acupuncture allows the body to heal itself, clearing inflammation and reducing allergy symptoms.

Allergies are caused by imbalances in the Qi, as well as an accumulation of dampness, heat, and wind. There are often multiple factors combine to cause the symptoms.  I will customize the treatment to specifically address the root cause of each patient’s allergies. 

The major imbalance in Qi is related to allergies when there is too little Qi. This is called Qi vacuity causing you to feel tired, can get colds easily, have poor digestion, cough, and possibly asthma. The acupuncture and herbs work to boost up your qi, giving you more energy and protecting you from allergies.

Accumulation of dampness can cause nasal congestion, a runny nose with clear or white mucus, and a heavy sensation in the head. In this case, acupuncture and herbs would drain dampness.  If you have dampness, it is important to avoid dairy and heavy fried foods. 

Wind is another factor causing allergies. Wind-related allergies typically manifest as sudden-onset symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose with clear mucus, and possibly chills. Heat is also sometimes a cause of allergies particularly if there is yellow or green mucus, red and itchy eyes, and irritability. Heat is often a reflection of the inflammation that is in the body and herbs that remove heat help to reduce inflammation. 

If the allergies worsen with stress, then there also may be some Qi stagnation. This occurs when Qi is blocked or not flowing smoothly through the body’s channels. 

How does it work?

Acupuncture helps to reset the body and remind it how to be healthy. As balance is achieved, your body is able to maintain the healthy state without medications. So instead of simply suppressing the body’s reaction, it works to correct the root cause of the problem. We do this by determining the specific imbalances and targeting them with acupuncture and herbs. 

Research has shown that acupuncture has many powerful mechanisms to reduce allergies including reducing inflammation, balancing the immune system, and stimulating natural pain relievers in the nervous system.  

Personalized Therapies to Target the Root Cause

On your first visit we will complete a medical history and exam.  The therapies are customized to your needs and may include acupuncture, electroacupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, and acupressure. 

The acupuncture points will be chosen according to your specific symptoms and the imbalances that are causing your symptoms. I will most often combine a points on the body along meridian that the pain is over with points on the head and face where the pain is.  For example, if there is a lot of heat and inflammation, Lung 5 and LI 11 are often used.  This is often paired with Large Intestine 4 on the hand to relieve congestion in the sinuses. 

Stomach 36 at the knee can be helpful as well to relieve the congestion in the sinuses, but if there is a lot of phlegm I may also do Stomach 40 on the lower leg. Points on the cheeks and face can quickly help relieve sinus headaches and pressure.  Electroacupuncture on UB 11 is very helpful to stop coughing. 

The treatment course for allergies with acupuncture can vary significantly depending on the individual, the severity of the allergy symptoms, and the underlying causes. Generally, you will come once a week during the allergy season. If the symptoms are severe some people come in two times a week.  It is good to begin treatment a few weeks before the allergy season to prevent the symptoms from developing. 

Acupuncture also helps treat the whole person helping to improve sleep as well as reducing stress. One acupuncture good side effects is that is very relaxing!

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal formulas are a component of my treatment of many patients.  Chinese medicine helps with seasonal allergies in a holistic way, treating the whole person and addressing the root cause of the problem. Many Chinese herbs have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. 

All herbal formulas are recommended in a personalized way based on your symptoms. This article is for educational purposes only. Please consult a Chinese medicine herbalist before taking Chinese herbs. 

Sinus symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and sinus headache are often caused by the accumulation of dampness. One formula for this is called Bi Min Gan Wan, the nasal congestion formula.  This is a mild formula that helps to reduce headaches and nasal congestion. I also use an herbal nasal spray to reduce inflammation in the sinuses. 

Itchy eyes from allergies is generally from wind heat.  One of the most commonly used herbal formulas for itchy eyes from heat is Sang Ye Tang.  This formula has mulberry leaf and chrysanthemum flowers that help to relieve itchy eyes.  


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Chinese medicine and acupuncture are effective treatments for seasonal allergies. It can be used alone or in combination with your conventional therapies. Targeting the root cause of your imbalance can help you feel better and reduce your need for medications.

Get acupuncture and stop to smell the flowers!

Feedback From our clients…

I began seeing Joe for a number of reasons–a heelspur, chronic insomnia, allergies, anxiety…. What I found immediately was that the holistic approach to treatment allowed me to address all of these at once. Some of the results of the acupuncture, herbs, and acupressure were immediate—I began sleeping more soundly immediately, for example—while others have been more gradual; in each case, my symptoms are improving. I have been really happy to be Joe’s patient, not least because he takes the time to explain why we’re pursuing particular kinds of treatments and how they work. I’m learning a lot about Chinese medicine as I continue to feel better. Honestly, I can’t recommend Alban Acupuncture highly enough.

~ C.M., Brooklyn