Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Treating Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine



By Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom, Boulder, Colorado

It’s spring and with it comes an explosion of life and blossoming all around us.  But for some 50 million adults and 8 million children, spring, summer and fall are also allergy seasons and the symptoms can be so severe as to keep people from going outside on high pollen days.  Typical spring and summer allergens include grasses, pollens and mold, whereas fall allergies are often triggered by ragweed, dust and mold.

What causes seasonal allergies? An allergic reaction is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a foreign substance. These substances are detected as harmless in non-allergic people, but for people with allergies, the body interprets the foreign substance as potentially harmful and releases histamine which produces symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, a sore throat and red, swollen, itchy eyes. The pollens and dust may be triggers for an allergic reaction, but a malfunctioning immune system is the main cause. Our immune systems have been bombarded with chemicals, pesticides and hormones in addition to the normal stresses of life.  As a result, they have become oversensitive.

Western treatments for allergies include: avoiding or reducing one’s exposure to the allergens, medications, especially anti-histamines and corticosteroids, and allergy shots. With allergy shots, the allergen is given in small, increasing doses so as to desensitize the person to the allergen. It may take months or even a year for results and you many not become desensitized to all triggers.  The problem with western medications for allergies is that anti- histamines have side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and disorientation whereas corticosteroids can have serious side effects including immunodeficiency, adrenal insufficiency, hyperglycemia, osteoporosis, cataracts and glaucoma. Furthermore, these medications do not address the root cause.

David Scrimgeour, acupuncturist in Boulder, Colorado, successfully treats people with allergies every year.  The objective, says Scrimgeour, is not only to relieve the symptoms but also to treat the underlying immune system imbalance that is causing this hyper-reactivity.  

Scrimgeour uses acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas to address allergies.  Acupuncture can help to control the body’s inflammatory response to allergies, help treat what is known in Chinese medicine as “wind invasion” and bring the body back into a higher state of balance.  He also recommends a Chinese herbal formula, Supreme Allergy Formula, that combines herbs with specific properties that open nasal passages, transform phlegm, clear mucus from the airways, relieve itchiness in the nose and eyes and calm inflammation.  Some of the herbs also help relieve a sore, swollen throat, support lung function and support the immune system. “I have had very good results with acupuncture and Chinese herbs to relieve allergy symptoms and restore a healthy immune response,” maintains Scrimgeour.

David Scrimgeour also recommends: quercetin, a bioflavonoid  prominent in apples and onions that is known to stabilize mast cells and prevent immune cells from releasing histamines that cause the allergic reactions;  bromelain, a natural enzyme from pineapple that calms inflammation;  and supplemental or food sources of probiotics.  He supports an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruit, lean protein and plant-based fats.  Of course, he also advises patients to avoid allergic triggers whenever possible, invest in a good air filter and take a shower if they have been outside during high pollen times. 

With these recommendations, people have been able to reduce their allergy symptoms significantly and get outside and enjoy all that spring, summer and fall have to offer. 
David Scrimgeour specializes in treating allergies and practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. He is also an acupuncturist for the Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette and Erie areas in Colorado. For more information, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website: www.davidscrimgeour.com.

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