Chronic Sinus Congestion and Allergic Rhinitis
Besides suffering from perennial allergy symptoms such as profuse nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing, people with seasonal allergic rhinitis may also experience red conjunctivae and itchy eyes. As their sinus pathways become increasingly congested, sufferers may likewise manifest asthmatic symptoms, headaches, poor mental concentration, breathing problem and thickened mucus membranes. From a western medical standpoint, these symptoms and signs are due to a heightened sensitivity in the nasal cavity lining to different kinds of fumes, animal dander, dust mites, spores, and/or pollens. For certain reasons, the immune system of the sufferer has instructed the affected part of the body to increase its vigilance for potential threats that may infiltrate the body through the throat, mouth and nasal pathways. When these threats do invade the body, the immune system dispatches alarming signals to quickly isolate the infiltrators within the vicinities of these orifices. It then commands white blood cells to the affected site to eliminate the threat. The battle that commences produces the symptoms and signs we know as an allergic attack.
Western Types of Treatment
Western modalities for allergic rhinitis often entail the use of antihistamines to disrupt the body’s immune response or desensitize the body to the allergen. Basically, these treatments aim at either suppressing or redirecting the immune system’s response of the patient towards a certain allergen. What they are unable to do is to change or revitalize other related aspects of immunity that can ply a part in treating the patient’s condition. These treatments also are not designed to remove the obstructions that prevent or hinder body systems from regaining their harmonious function.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM addresses allergic rhinitis by targeting the internal factors that are responsible for the disarray of the body’s immune response, while at the same time relieving the symptoms caused by its hyper-reactive state. Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture can aid the immune system into precisely and calmly evaluating the status of the threat and help regulate the body’s response to the threat.
Wei Qi is the principle that TCM adopts to understand the functions and nature of immunity. Wei Qi is Qi’s defensive aspect of the body. It flows just beneath the skin and between the muscles, shielding the body from pathogens such as heat, cold, wind, or other factors that abound in the environment. Kidney and Lung Qi aid Wei Qi in defending the body against wind borne pathogens. Lung Qi protects and nourishes the nose’s mucosal linings as well as the respiratory tract and the mouth. Kidney Qi sends nourishment towards the lungs and at the same time conveys signals to the endocrine system to enable Wei Qi to initiate a measured and intelligent response to the invading pathogens. A strong and well nourished Wei Qi can properly identify an unwanted visitor within its borders and this enables it to mount a calculated inflammatory response to ensnare the pathogen, while at the same time alerting white blood cell killers to eliminate the histamine imprisoned allergen. Sneezing and nasal discharges help remove the dead pathogens from the body and homeostasis is restored.
Allergies complicated by deficiency
A mild allergic reaction can turn into a major combat disaster if the organ systems supplying Wei Qi become obstructed or weak. Tired white blood cell killers can fail in their mission in destroying the alien infiltrators causing the inflamed site to become very toxic. This causes mucus to accumulate more and more and sneezing to become more forceful that the patient may find breathing extremely difficult. Certain salient features in patterns of rhinitis complicated by deficiency are:
-Weak deficient pulse
-Concurrent or past history of eczema or asthma
-Pale and waxy complexion
-Increased itching around nose and eyes
-Recurrent and transitory sneezing
-Allergy develops with a change of weather
If the blood and Qi pathways become obstructed for whatever reason, Wei Qi also declines. Emotional stress can lead to blockage and weaken the liver Qi. Unreleased anger or frustration can literally choke liver energy, hindering it from circulating blood and Qi to the other body systems and this leads to deficient nutrition and information causing the body’s defense mechanisms to weaken or dysfunction, in this instance by overreacting. Important aspects in this pattern of rhinitis are:
-A string-taut pulse
-White or red face turning purple during bouts of anger
-Easy and disproportionate irritability to current events
Poor choices of food can lead to allergies
Another reason for blockage/stagnation is poor dietary choices. Regular intake of phlegm-producing and cold foods can result in dampness in the body that retards digestion, impairing the absorption and conveyance of nutrients to all parts of the body. Drinks and foods containing sugar, peanuts, cold fruit juices and cow’s milk can produce mucus in the digestive tract that may accumulate in the lungs and nose. Children who are given these kinds of foods are often seen with chronic noisy respiration, nasal itching, and/or persistent runny noses. Signs of this hypo-reactive pattern of rhinitis can involve:
-Thirst but refusal to drink
-A selective eater or poor appetite
-A muzzy headed feeling, fatigue and/or droopy posture
The benefits of acupuncture
Traditional Chinese medicine utilizes herbal remedies and acupuncture to resolve allergic rhinitis. The acupuncturist delicately inserts ultra thin acupuncture needles into certain points in the body where Qi pathways (called meridians) underneath them run to relieve sinus misery. When stimulated with the needles, these meridians can help subdue an ongoing allergic response and disperse accumulating mucus. The stimulation can also repair communication pathways to help avert future episodes of allergy attacks. The patient may undergo two or three acupuncture sessions a month before an oncoming allergy season to fortify and regulate the kidneys, lungs, and Wei Qi in a manner that the patient may no longer be affected by troublesome allergens.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Daily intake of certain Chinese herbal remedies can greatly contribute in the symptomatic relief of allergy during an attack. They can also fortify the kidney and lung systems over the long term. Also, the removal of allergy causing foods can lead to a life free of allergy attacks.
Tree of Life Acupuncture
1215 120th Ave NE #206
Bellevue, WA 98005