Allergies have become very common in the modern days, and the number of people affected seems to be on the rise. In Canada, one in five people suffer from some kind of allergy. The growing number of allergies is often associated with increased air pollution and exposure to certain chemicals. However, we must not overlook the influence of poor lifestyle choices (poor diet, lack of physical activity, stress, fatigue, etc.) which unbalance our immune system.
Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a normally safe substance. These substances that cause allergic reactions are called 'allergens'. The main allergens are: pollen, ragweed, animal dander, dust mites, and certain chemicals. Allergies are often seasonal, but can occur throughout the year. The main symptoms are itching, tingling of the palate, nose and / or eyes, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing.
The conventional approach to allergies is to avoid allergens and to inhibit or reduce the immune reactions that cause symptoms. Among the most common drugs are antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer an effective and side-effect free alternative for treating allergies, whether seasonal or year-round. The treatments aim to strengthen the immune system and restore the balance of the various systems and organs in the body. To maximize treatment results, Chinese herbs will often be combined with acupuncture. In the acute phase, treatment will focus on relieving the symptoms of the allergy; when symptoms calm down, the treatment will aim to prevent crises by regulating the immune system.
Acupuncture is a proven method to treat allergies, rhinitis and asthma. Several studies attest to the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of allergies, including one published in the European Journal of Allergy and Immunology in 2004, and another in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics). The WHO (the World Health Organization) classifies seasonal allergies, as well as asthma and sinusitis, as conditions of the respiratory system that can be effectively treated with acupuncture.