Acupuncture for Natural Allergy Relief

Do You Suffer From Springtime Allergies?

Springtime is glorious, unless you suffer from allergies.  The sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; foggy head and low energy of allergy season is miserable, especially when you want to be outdoors digging in your garden or just enjoying the longer days.  Thankfully, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can provide good allergy relief.

What is Hay fever?

Hay fever, or “allergic rhinitis” is an immune system response to pollens.  In the spring, tree pollens are the culprit; in the summer, grasses; in the fall, ragweed is the problem.  Symptoms range from mild runny nose to allergy-induced asthma.  If you suffer with allergy symptoms year round, you have “perennial rhinitis”, which is often caused by animal dander, dust, molds and/or environmental pollution.  Whatever the cause of your allergy symptoms, you just want relief.  While allergy medications can relieve your symptoms, they can have unwanted side-effects and just mask your symptoms rather than alleviate the root of the problem.

Chinese Medical View on Allergies

According to Chinese Medicine, hay fever is often related to deficiency of the Lung and Spleen functions.  In lay terms, that means that your immune and digestive functions may not be operating as optimally as they could.  When the Lung and Spleen functions are inhibited, it is easier for your body to accumulate “dampness” and toxins, as there isn’t enough energy to circulate these accumulations out of your body.  This can show up as excess mucus and phlegm; gas, bloating, and excess weight; or fatigue and foggy headedness.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help clear the accumulated dampness and toxins and strengthen your Lung and Spleen to reduce your allergy symptoms and strengthen your body’s resistance to allergens.

How to get Allergy Relief

Avoid processed sugar, wheat and dairy during allergy season.  Wheat and dairy are common allergens that can put an extra strain on your already-taxed immune system.  They also tend to produce extra mucus in the body, which is the last thing you need right now.  Sugar tends to lower immune-resistance, which may make you more prone to allergies.

Eat a good variety of richly colored vegetables and fruits.  Fruits and veggies contain bioflavonoids, a type of nutrient which helps your body reduce its production of histamines (the chemical responsible for your allergic reaction when you’re exposed to an allergen).  You can increase the effectiveness of bioflavonoids by taking extra vitamin C or eating foods which are rich in C.

Drink Chrysanthemum tea.  Ask for it in bulk at your local health food store or at an Asian Food Market.  In Portland, OR, you can go to Wing Ming Herbs at 2738 SE 82ndAve, between SE Division and SE Powell.  Put enough of the flowers in to fill a tea ball 2/3 full and steep for 5 min in your favorite mug.  Drink a cup or two of the tea daily to cool itchy, watery eyes.

Make an acupuncture appointment.  Acupuncture works with your body’s energy to rebalance and strengthen it at a deep level so that your body can heal itself more easily and efficiently.  Along with Chinese herbs, acupuncture can help clear your sinuses, relieve your coughing and itchy eyes and make you feel better so you can get back to doing what you like to do.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know how acupuncture and Chinese medicine might be helpful for you.


Natural Treatments for Jaw Pain


What is TMD/TMJ?

Do you have jaw pain or stiffness?  Does your jaw make popping sounds when you open your mouth?  You may have TMD (tempero-mandibular joint disorder), also known as TMJ, which refers to a variety of disorders or symptoms affecting the region around the tempero-mandibular joints which connect the lower jaw to the skull.  Symptoms of TMD range in number and severity and include jaw pain or stiffness; inability to fully open the mouth; popping or clicking sounds when opening the mouth; head, neck or shoulder tension; headaches; earaches; toothaches and other types of facial pain.

What Causes TMD/TMJ?

TMD can be caused by a variety of factors including stress, injury, an improper bite, arthritis, or a combination of factors. For example, stress might cause you to grind or clench your teeth during the day or at night while you sleep. This can tire and constrict the jaw muscles and cause pain, and may eventually lead to problems with the joint capsule itself. Whiplash or other trauma can strain the muscles and ligaments in the neck and face. Poor posture, lack of sleep, inability to relax and poor diet may also aggravate TMD symptoms. The contracted muscles and pinched nerves that result from these stresses can refer pain to other areas, causing headaches, earaches or toothaches.

How can Acupuncture Help?

Dental appliances, pain medication, lifestyle changes and occasionally surgery are the common methods of treatment for TMD. Acupuncture offers a wonderful alternative. It relaxes both body and mind and relieves pain without the side effects of medications. It is relatively non-invasive and relatively inexpensive, compared to other therapies. It also benefits overall health and well-being. Within 6-8 weekly treatments, the patient’s pain is generally reduced, range of motion of the jaw is generally increased and the need for pain medication is generally diminished or non-existent.

To treat TMD problems, acupuncturists insert needles around the jaw, neck and shoulders and often employ distal points in the arms, hands, legs and feet to further enhance the treatment. Such treatments help to release constricted muscles and restore proper circulation to the affected areas. Acupuncture also releases endorphins and most patients feel very calm and relaxed during and after an acupuncture treatment. Sometimes an herbal formula will be prescribed if the acupuncturist feels it will enhance the healing process.

So consider acupuncture to treat your TMD. It can help relieve your pain, relax your stress, decrease your need for pain medications and improve your overall health and well-being.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know how acupuncture and Chinese medicine might be helpful for you.


Stress Relief with Acupuncture

I think this guy needs some acupuncture...

I think this guy needs some acupuncture...

Some time ago, a patient came in with a headache, shoulder pain, nausea, stomach pain, and no appetite. She had been suffering from these problems for the previous three months, and was hoping for some relief.   As we talked it seemed that she felt a lot of stress, both from work as well as family responsibilities.  

After talking with the patient and doing the Chinese diagnostics of looking at the tongue and palpating the pulse, I diagnosed her with “Liver qi constraint”, a very common syndrome, and one closely related to stress.  The headaches, shoulder tension and digestive problems, which she also experienced, are also commonly seen with “Liver qi constraint”.  The acupuncture treatment focused on moving and soothing her "Liver qi".

When she returned for her second treatment, she was about 90% symptom-free!  I gave her another acupuncture treatment, focusing on the same principles, and had her come back the following week.  When she returned, she said she had felt great all week.  No headaches, good appetite and no digestive problems. Needless to say, I was was she.

We all know that stress has an effect on our health.  Based on my years of experience as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I would say, without reservation, that stress is a factor in almost every ailment a person presents with.   Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are wonderful modalities for helping to manage stress and strengthen the body’s ability to deal with it.  

While it is rare to see such a quick turn around, as in the patient above, it is always rewarding for a practitioner and, of course, wonderful for the patient.  In this case, all of this patient’s problems were caused by stress; hers was a classic case of "Liver qi constraint".  Acupuncture helped to regulate and smooth the qi in her channels, thereby relieving the stress and the effects it had had on her body.  As all health starts at an energetic level, once her Liver qi was flowing properly again, her symptoms went away.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to know how acupuncture and Chinese medicine might be helpful for you.