Sinus & Allergies

Allergies and sinus problems are becoming increasingly common, especially here in Florida. Allergies and the resulting sinus congestion, pressure, runny nose, post nasal drip, itchy eyes, sneezing etc. usually result from the immune system reacting to inhaled pollens, grasses, dust, molds, pet dander, or even some foods. These abnormal immune responses indicate deregulation in the ability of the immune system to appropriately distinguish between pathogens or invaders or environmental particles. Allergies can be mild or debilitating, often occurring seasonally, with exposure to high pollen counts exacerbating symptoms.
Allergies are commonly treated with antihistamines, which block the body’s histamine response to the allergen. Unfortunately, these medications do not treat the allergy, but simply mask the allergic response temporarily, and many allergy suffers must take medications daily for years. These medications do have side effects, including dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, dryness, and gastro-intestinal disturbance.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are extremely effective (approximately 90% success rate) in treating allergies. Acupuncture balances the immune system, promoting more appropriate immune responses to environmental triggers. Stimulation of various points on the body also promote sinus drainage, decreased pressure, and dying of excess mucous. If a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection is present, the use of Chinese herbs is necessary to eliminate the pathogens. Herbal formulas are also used in particularly severe, chronic cases of nasal allergies, as the herbs have similar effects of opening the nasal passages without the side-effects of antihistamines.

In clinical trials, acupuncture has been repeatedly shown to improve various allergy symptoms in adults and children.

A recent Fox News report highlighted the effectiveness of acupuncture for sinus allergy sufferers. “At the end of the study period, participants in both groups were rated on their level of improvement. The first group treated with traditional Chinese medicine patients demonstrated improvements in all allergy symptoms in the eyes and nose, higher levels of physical activity, and an improved psychological condition compared to patients in the control group. For seasonal allergy sufferers still suffering with traditional Western medical treatments, or weighed down by unwanted side effects like drowsiness, may find relief in acupuncture. In fact, these patients may discover what Hippocrates learned centuries ago, the body has its own incredible power to heal.”

Comparative studies on treatment of type I allergic diseases with either acupuncture or desensitization therapies (allergy shots), showed that acupuncture therapy had an extensive and remarkable action against type I allergic reaction. The curative effect was higher in the acupuncture group than in the desensitization group in allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and chronic urticaria.

[1] Xue CC, An X, Cheung TP, Da Costa C, Lenon GB, Thien FC, Story DF. Acupuncture for persistent allergic rhinitis: a randomised, sham-controlled trial. Med J Aust. 2007 Sep 17;187(6):337-41

[2] Ng DK, Chow PY, Ming SP, Hong SH, Lau S, Tse D, Kwong WK, Wong MF, Wong WH, Fu YM, Kwok KL, Li H, Ho JC. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis.Pediatrics. 2004 Nov;114(5):1242-7.

[3] Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1993 Dec, 13(4):243-8. (UI: 94187357) AT: UCLA Biomed W1 J0922R