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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Debra Wu, ND, LAc
Holistic Approach To Allergies
A Natural Alternative

Holistic Approach To Allergies

Anyone who has suffered from allergies knows the symptoms well itchy nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, itchy eyes, runny eyes and headache. Low energy and inability to focus are also common side effects of allergies.
In the holistic approach to health, there is a three-pronged strategy to treating allergies. The first prong is reduction of exposure to the allergen. If you are allergic to pollens, avoid going outdoors during the morning when pollen levels are at their highest. Do not wear shoes in the house. You track into your house everything that you step on.
Invest in a HEPA filter and keep it in your room. If you are allergic to dust mites, you may want to consider plastic pillow case covers and mattress covers to keep dust mites out. Carpet tends to trap dust, mold and pollens more readily than wood or vinyl floors, so changing your flooring may be a good long-term investment.
For some patients, certain foods tend to contribute to mucous production and worsen congestion. Common food sensitivities include dairy, wheat and refined sugars. Reducing your consumption of these food irritants is not an easy process, but it can significantly palliate symptoms.
The second prong to treatment is alleviation of acute symptoms. A herbal oil blend in tincture form is a quick way to open up congested nasal passages. Commonly used aromatic herbs include eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint and thyme. Place a few drops of the oil into a basin of hot water and close your eyes while placing your face as close to the water as is comfortable. Inhale the oil and vapor the warm moist air and the volatile oils work very well.
Typically, aromatic herbs are prescribed to take internally. Herbs such as mint (bo he), angelica root (bai zhi), xanthium fruit (cang er zi), and magnolia flower (xin yi), are all aromatic and can help to clear the head of congestion. Chrysanthemum (ju hua) is a good herb for alleviating itchy eyes. These herbs are combined with other herbs that dispel wind, drain dampness, warm or cool, depending on the patients presentation.
Acupuncture can provide quick relief of head congestion and headache. Needles are usually placed around the nose, forehead and sinuses for about 20 minutes. Distal points along the extremities (arms and legs) may also be needled. Points are chosen based on where the symptoms are located and on the Chinese medical diagnosis.
The third step in treating allergies is to strengthen your immune system. In Chinese medicine, the symptoms of allergies arise from a weakness of the defenses (wei qi). The primary function of the wei qi is to protect the body from exterior pathogens such as wind, heat, cold and dampness. This is analogous to the immune system protecting you from allergens and from inclement weather. If a persons wei qi is strong, then these pathogens cannot cause symptoms.
Chinese herbs are used to strengthen the wei qi. Since Chinese medical philosphy believes that much of our qi (energy) is derived from what we eat, these herbs are usually paired with herbs that also tonify/build up the digestion. The third step is usually implemented after the acute symptoms have abated.

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