Ask the Expert: Treating Spring Allergies with Acupuncture

By: StacyAtZeel

Normally harmless, but your body may not think so...Normally harmless, but your body may not think so...Itchy eyes and sniffly nose? We talk to Zeel Expert Aram Akopyan to find out how acupuncture can be of utmost help this spring.

What are seasonal allergies?

Allergies are on the rise in the western world, and I often get asked the question as to why that is. The word allergy is derived from the Greek words "other" and "activity." Our immune system develops a unique template of "self" versus "other" during the early youth. Under normal conditions, that template serves quite well to protect us from these other, outside invaders.

However, in light of exaggerated stress, increased exposure to industrial and environmental pollutants, and overdependence on medications, your immune system can go into a state of hyper-alertness. In this case, even a harmless invader is treated as a danger, and the system mobilizes in all its furry. This releases the histamines and other immune modulators, which then cause the telltale signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.

What are some of the symptoms of allergies?

Predominant triggers for spring allergies are blooms, blossoms and seasonal change. The abrupt weather pattern changes from cold to hot, dry, windy or rainy also compound conditions.

The most common symptoms that I see in the clinic for seasonal allergies include an itchy, runny nose. Watery eyes, a scratchy throat, skin irritations and insomnia may accompany too. By treating the underlying condition, according to TCM modalities, we can eliminate or reduce most of these symptoms.

How do you treat seasonal allergies at your clinic?

In my clinic, before I treat allergy patients, I often conduct a full panel allergy-blot test to determine the key allergens causing the reaction. This helps in the prevention of relapse or recurrence. Then, I review the symptoms and presentation according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theories and modalities, since in TCM we do not treat diseases but rather internal imbalances.

Once I determine the specific imbalances in the body, I begin to treat them with acupuncture, herbal supplements, topical or home care applications of herbal sinus steam baths, irrigation, and other modalities. I often prescribe a one-week liver cleanse for allergy patients, especially before the spring, since it's important to begin the season with a clean and revitalized liver.

How long can treatment take to kick into effect?

For acute conditions of seasonal allergies, two to four treatments should help reduce the symptoms and eliminate the need for antihistamines. However, I stress again that it is imperative to determine the underlying triggers to prevent relapse.

For chronic conditions, it is important to conduct the screening to determine the triggers and then work from there. With lifestyle changes and a six to 12 treatment protocol, most seasonal allergies can be put in remission. I find that, unless drastic lifestyle, diet and behavioral changes are made, most seasonal allergies tend to recur.

How long does relief last?

In reality, knowing my patient base, I find that most will return the following spring with similar complaints, although at greatly reduced severity levels.

To learn more about acupuncture and your health, book an appointment with health and wellness expert Aram Akopyan on Zeel.