When I wake up congested, I’ll irrigate my nose with a neti pot and instantly breath more freely. In winter, and during allergy season, I use it daily as natural remedy to prevent and treat nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, allergies, sore throat, and upper respiratory congestion or colds. At the bottom of this post you will find an instructional video which teaches how to use a neti pot. For many years, I’ve recommended the same to my patients. They all so appreciative that I’ve taught them how to use a neti pot because they experience reduction or elimination of sinus pain, sinus headaches, allergy symptoms, the common cold and such.
Nasal irrigation with a neti pot takes five minutes and it’s super easy to use. If you don’t believe me, check out the demonstration video below. You won’t have to spend $30.00 on an expensive ceramic neti pot at a fancy health food store, because most drug stores carry a simple and effective plastic version costing about half the price. NeilMed brand is the neti pot that my family uses at home, along with the pre-mixed saline packets.
Not only can you save money on the neti pot it’s self, you can save tons of dough in over-the-counter and prescription medications when you prevent and treat naturally with a neti pot. On the occasion that your symptoms progress, be sure to visit you health care provider. When my patients symptoms progress they usually call me for an acupuncture appointment and/or for some herbs.
I know that some of you are concerned about neti pot safety. Fill your neti pot with filtered, pre-boiled water that you’ve cooled to room temperature. Doing so will reduce the chance of bacteria entering your nose via the water. Some of my patients make this cleaner water in large batches and store it in a clean glass container so that they don’t have to clean the water daily.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are effective to prevent spring allergies before they start.
Let’s face it, spring allergies can be a drag. Instead of celebrating the blossoms and warmer weather many people suffer for weeks or even months with runny noses, watery, red eyes, and sneezing post nasal drip.
Many seasonal allergies sufferers turn to medications to prevent the symptoms of spring allergies throughout the season despite the common side effects of drowsiness, dryness, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, and digestive disturbance. There’s also immune system suppression and the risk of becoming medication-dependent to worry about. Worse still, the Western treatment of allergies treats only the symptoms and not the root cause. Those seeking a natural and effective alternative need search no further than Chinese medicine.
In Chinese medicine the strategy behind treatment is alleviating the acute symptoms as well as correcting the root energetic imbalance causing those symptoms. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are most often related to underlying disharmonies involving wei qi, or defensive energy, phlegm or dampness, and the lung, spleen, and kidney energy systems, all of which are explained in detail in the article, “Stop Your Sniffling: Treat Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs“!
Another one of my favorite ways to prevent and treat seasonal allergies is with quercitin ascorbate. Quercitin is like nature’s Benadryl but with out the sleepy side effects. It is best to taken 2-3 times per day with food.
Visit my Online Shop to find home care products and that are my favorites for preventing spring allergies.
Learn About the Benefits of Needle-free Acupuncture for Babies & Children, Tui Na Massage & Shoni Shin Treatment–An Interview withMelanie Katin, L.Ac., Professor and Clinician of Pediatric Chinese Medicinewith Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac., Creator of HealthyStuff U.com
JA: A slew of positive media reports about the efficacy of acupuncture and tui na massage for kids is popularising parental interest in this natural treatment. Yet, many parents remain hesitant to bring kids in for acupuncture because babies, toddlers, kids and even the parents themselves may be frightened of needles. With that, how does your pediatric practice stay so busy?
MK: When people learn that I am a pediatric acupuncturist, they open their eyes wide when inquiring if I really use needles on children. The answer is yes, depending on a combination of the health issue, the parents’ consent, and the child’s willingness. However, in the pediatric clinic, there are several other methods of treatment beyond needling that are comfortable for the child, and easy to teach parents so that they can continue treatments at home, when necessary.
JA: Chinese medicine uses medical massage as a stand-alone, or as an adjunctive therapy to acupuncture. How well do children take to needle-free therapies?
MK: In Chinese medicine, massage is called Tui Na (twee-naa). For infants and small children under 6, this is always the first line of treatment in my office. One of the best things about the health of children is their ability to heal quickly. They generally have rapid shifting of symptoms, however intense they may seem at the moment.
In Chinese medicine, we say that infants, babies and toddlers are yang in nature, meaning that they grow and learn fast, get sick quickly, with fast resolution of their illness, and tend to have more hot, feverish illnesses. When children are sick, there is disorder in their Qi (chee), and it is part of the goal of my treatments to restore order to the qi using gentle and tolerable treatments. The Qi is superficial, and is easily accessed on the skin, which is why massage is one of the best tools to use for children.
JA: How does pediatric tui-na massage differ from therapeutic massage for grown-ups?
MK: Pediatric tuina massage is different from standard adult massage in many ways. First, is the fact that warm water is used as the substrate, instead of oil or creams. Adult massage employs oils because they help sedate and calm during the massage. But because children have yang tendencies, sedating or calming them with oils and creams is usually contraindicated. We want their discomfort to move out of their bodies rapidly, therefore water allows for fast hand motions during the massage without creating any friction on the skin, which may be uncomfortable.
Also different from adult massage are the techniques. The hand movements are specific to the goal of treatment: for instance, for a child experiencing a cough, we would administer tui na massage the sternum or breastplate in a downward direction only, to encourage the body to stop having the upward movement of the cough. If a child is experiencing constipation, the abdominal massage is done in a clockwise direction, because the large intestine moves in this direction, and the massage helps direct the peristalsis. Conversely, for a child with diarrhea, we would massage in a counter-clockwise direction.
JA: Can parents learn tui-na massage techniques to continue therapy at home with their children?
MK: Yes. Since the techniques are very easy to learn, I ensure that the parents have a good grasp on how to do 2-3 techniques so that they can continue the treatments at home. With most illnesses it is important that the treatment be performed sometimes several times a day, so caregiver involvement is essential.
JA: It always amazes me how effective tui-na massage is when I use it with my son at home. And, yes, we’ve noticed that if we don’t use the techniques several times per day the treatments are not successful. We commit the time to his health, which isn’t hard, because the tui-na only takes a few minutes each time. My son and I love the bonding time that massage creates for us. Which other needle-free methods do you use?
MT: A second modality we use is called Shoni Shin. This is a technique of gently tapping and scraping the skin with small instruments. There are specific shoni shin tools that are usually made from copper or stainless steel. This technique is used both as a preventative measure by maintaining the flow of qi to stay consistent when the child is healthy, but also as a way to inform the neurological system of the proper flow when the child is ill.
JA: When I was searching for stock photos to accompany this interview, my son peeked at my computer screen as I found the photo below, of a boy receiving shoni-shin. He recognized the shoni-shin tools and exclaimed, “That boy is getting massage, mommy”!
MT: Children love shoni shin tools! Especially the roller, which is always the first one to be picked up and played with. It is important that the children become comfortable with the tools, and we create a game with them during the treatment. Often, slightly older children will make up stories about each tool. However, I have found that children who have had many experiences with surgeries or hospital visits are wary of shiny, strange looking objects coming near their skin. For these wee ones, I have used more recognizable household items, such as buttons, spoons, sea glass or seashells: in other words, friendly and familiar.
JA: That is brilliant. And these are items which kids are likely familiar with. I have also used a coin as a tool. Shoni-shin has a neat history. Please tell us about that.
MK: Shoni shin was a technique developed in Japan in the 17th century, and more recently popularized in modern clinics. In Japan, the Chinese medical clinics will raise a flag of a different animal each month, around the full moon. This signals parents in the neighborhood that it is time to bring in the children for their monthly wellness visits for shoni shin. I strongly encourage parents to consider bringing their kids in to see me when they are not currently sick to receive shoni shin. This way, they can meet me, learn about shoni shin and massage, and develop a level of comfort at my office, so that when they are actually sick and fussy, they will not have the added fear of something and someone new, but will be familiar with the procedure.
JA: And monthly visits can help strengthen kid’s immune systems and refresh the parents memory about techniques to use, along with learning new ones.
So, what about acupuncture for kids? When do you use needles?
MK: It is not always necessary to needle small children, because they can benefit greatly from the two modalities described here. However, for some instances, neither tui na nor shoni shin can be employed well, either due to intolerance of touch, or for those little ones who have just learned how to walk, and just cannot sit still. For these cases, sometimes a couple needles are faster and easier to use.
Once you find a competent pediatric specialist, you should discover that your child may not even notice that they have been needled. One way I have discovered to avert the fear aspect of needles is to call them something else! One little 3-year old I know calls them “piques,” which sounds a lot like “peek,” so this is usually my word of choice, to remind the child of a game of peek-a-boo.
JA:I love it! My son is still nervous to receive acupuncture, but each time after I treat him, he always looks me right in the eyes and sincerely thanks me. I bet your patients and their parents are grateful too. We are certainly grateful when we come to see you! How can parents outside of the New York City area find a practitioner of Chinese medicine who specializes in pediatrics?
MK: My advice on how to find a practitioner in your area is to search a couple of online resources, both www.nccaom.org, which is the national certification agency for all licensed practitioners of Chinese medicine, and also www.acufinder.com. Both of these will yield practitioners in your area. Another suggestion is to see if there is a local Chinese medical school in your area. They might have a low-cost clinic where your child can be treated, or have alumni information available. Once you’ve found a few practitioners, start calling and ask if they have experience treating children. They might be able to point you in the right direction if they are not able to help you directly.
JA: I also send people to www.tcmdirectory.com. Thank you so much for all of this valuable information about Chinese medicine for kids. I hope it is useful for parents!
Melanie Katin, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in NYC. She has been specializing in the care of children for 8 years in her private practice, and leads the pediatric clinic at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s NYC campus. For further information, or to make an appointment with Melanie, visit her website: www.melaniekatin.com
A patient of my acupuncture practice believes she’s gluten intolerant or possibly allergic and she’s noticed her son is feeling a lot better now that he’s not eating gluten either. They are looking for the best gluten-free cookbooks and recipe website info and resources and I knew you’d be the one to ask 🙂
How lovely of you to research gluten-free resources for your patient! Gluten-free diets may seem daunting at first, but in a short amount of time it becomes easier and more fun to cook. Gluten-free diets lead to much healthier, happier lives for scores of children and adults. I’ve witnessed amazing health transformations in many of my patients, in myself and in my own son thanks to a gluten-free diet such as; improved digestion, healthy and rapid weight loss, clearer and more focused thinking, elimination of daytime fatigue, blood sugar regulation, reduced or eliminated moodiness and stress levels, improved behavior in children, improved fertility, reduced or eliminated seasonal allergies/rhinitis, eczema, reduced asthma symptoms, reduced symptoms of other inflammatory diseases, and more.
It is important to note that not all gluten-free foods, gluten-free cookbooks, products or recipes are healthy just because they are labeled “gluten-free”. We eaters must remain aware of our food choices. There are so many gluten-free cookbooks and recipes websites out there that a quick Google search will turn up pages of results, so encourage your patient to do more research on her own. Below you will see a short list of some of my favorite resources.
It is important to first learn the foods to avoid when eating a gluten-free diet.
Finally, the sun is out and the warm weather upon us. But for roughly 45 million Americans, seasonal allergies (also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis) make this time of year a miserable one. How can allergy sufferers enjoy themselves with all the sneezing, runny nose, fatigue, sinus pressure, congestion, red itchy eyes, scratchy throat and headache?
Many seasonal allergies sufferers turn to medications throughout the season despite the common side effects of drowsiness, dryness, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, and digestive disturbance. There’s also immune system suppression and the risk of becoming medication-dependent to worry about. Worse still, the Western treatment of allergies treats only the symptoms and not the root cause. Those seeking a natural and effective alternative need search no further than Chinese medicine.
In Chinese medicine the strategy behind treatment is alleviating the acute symptoms as well as correcting the root energetic imbalance causing those symptoms. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are most often related to underlying disharmonies involving wei qi, or defensive energy, phlegm or dampness, and the lung, spleen, and kidney energy systems, all of which I explain below.
Wei Qi and Lung Qi: In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), illness prevention begins with a protective layer around the exterior of the body called wei qi, or defensive energy. A strong and healthy wei qi is the body’s initial protection against all external pathogens. If the defensive energy is weak, “wind pathogens” transmitted through the air will enter the body, so a combination of a wind-born pathogen and a deficiency of the protective wei qi is a recipe for illness. People with wei qi deficiency catch colds easily, and seasonal allergies symptoms may be particularly bad in the spring or fall seasons which are generally windy. Patients with seasonal allergies, chronic cough and/or recurrent colds and flu are also likely to have Lung deficiency, since wei qi and immune function are part of the lung energy. Lung qi controls the domain of skin, lungs, nose, sinuses, and respiratory passages.
Spleen Qi: Behind every weak immune system is a deficiency of the spleen qi, part of the digestive system. It is the job of the spleen to make healthy qi from food. If the spleen qi is weak, it is not able to efficiently digest food and make a healthy quality of energy to distribute to all systems of the body. The immune system suffers. Spleen qi deficiency is usually accompanied by dampness; fluids fail to metabolize and often end up turning to excess phlegm and mucus. Spleen Qi vacuity with Dampness is a common underlying condition with allergy symptoms.
Kidney Qi: Since kidney energy is the root of constitutional and all other energy systems in the body, it is usually related to imbalances involving deficiency. Especially when seasonal allergies, asthma, or frequent or chronic respiratory illness are problems since childhood, the kidney energy must be addressed. It is also important to note that kidney energy is damaged by long-term medication use.
Chinese herbs are very important both for quick relief of the acute symptoms as well as support for the underlying imbalance in energy responsible for allergic problems. Though every patient has a unique combination of symptoms and is treated according to their individual pattern, the most common treatment principles are boosting the lung qi, wei qi, and supporting the spleen qi while expelling wind and phlegm dampness from the body.
There are many Chinese herbs that build wei qi and enhance the immune system. For best results (and safety!), herbal formulas should be prescribed only by professionally trained herbalists. The formula prescribed will address each patient’s unique presentation of symptoms, and hence will vary greatly from case to case. However, an example of one of the simplest and most famous formulas is called Jade Windscreen and is comprised of just three immunity-enhancing herbs: Huang qi (Astragalus), Fang feng (Saposhnikovia) and Bai zhu (Atractylodes).
Huang qi (Astragalus) is traditionally used to strengthen wei qi. Modern research has identified several notable pharmacological effects confirming its historical use. Huang qi is an immunostimulant, increasing both specific and non-specific immunity. It also increases the number of white blood cells and has antibiotic actions against streptococcus and staphylococcus. Clinical studies have shown it effective in the prevention of colds and respiratory infections. It is also considered a hepatoprotective (liver-protecting) herb.
Fang feng’s (Saposhnikovia) TCM name is translated to mean “guard against wind,” and it has antibiotic and antiviral properties.
Bai zhu (Atractylodes) is traditionally used as a tonic to build both spleen qi and wei qi. Recent studies have shown that Bai zhu increases the activity of macrophages and increases the number of white blood cells and lymphocytes.
The above herbs are also included in many variations of the original Jade Windscreen formula, such as Allerease by Blue Poppy, which is often relevant and prescribed.
Allergies and Lifestyle: Survival Tips
The following suggestions may help minimize suffering:
Minimize exposure to your allergens. Check your local TV, newspaper or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels, and stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity is high. The morning is prime pollen time – especially if it is dry and windy. Plan outdoors activities for later in the day, or after a good rain, when pollen counts are lower.
Keep windows shut when the pollen count is high, including those in your house and car. Use air conditioning if possible, or keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or an electrostatic precipitator may also help clean pollen and mold from the indoor air.
Don’t hang laundry outside, since pollen may cling to towels and sheets. Wash all bedding every 7 to 14 days. Also, remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
Avoid mowing the grass, pulling weeds or raking leaves. If you must do these, wear a mask to filter pollen and molds from the air.
Plan vacations where pollen isn’t prevalent. A good choice is the beach.
Swim for exercise. In fact, you’ll find one of the purest concentrations of air in the ten to 15 inch layer right above the water, and the gentle humidity keeps your airways from drying out. If you exercise outdoors, use a neti pot before and after exercising to get rid of dust, pollen, and mucus from your nose.
Diet and Supplements for Allergy Season
In general, eating a well-balanced healthy diet will keep the immune system strong. Specifically, minimize or avoid cows milk and other dairy products as they contribute to the production of phlegm and mucus. Overindulgence in simple carbohydrates and sweets can also contribute to allergies, since they harm the spleen qi.
Include both omega-3 and omega-6s fatty acids included in salmon, tuna, mackerel, and other cold-water fish. Eat mercury containing fish, such as tuna, in moderation especially pregnant women. Check the USDA Website for more information on mercury and fish. Flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and canola oil are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the form found in fish.
Another article about Natural Allergy Control gives more suggestions about diet and supplements that may be helpful. It also explains how allergies are related to imbalances in the nervous system, and which allergies respond well to chiropractic care.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The best time to get treated for seasonal allergies is before they show up. Starting a treatment program including acupuncture and Chinese herbs 6-8 weeks before they typically start for you, helps boost the immune system and hence prevent symptoms from appearing since the underlying energy will be strong and resilient. However, if allergy symptoms are already bothering you, start treatment as soon as possible for best results.
Contact Aiyana Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs for more information or to make an appointment today!
This article was originally printed in The Pulse of Oriental Medicine in 2002. It was been edited and revised in 2017.
Before we discuss how to revive the Spleen with diet, it is important to understand the causes and effects of Spleen qi vacuity dampness. One function of the spleen is the assimilation of nutrients from food in the stomach to form qi, blood and body fluids. Therefore the spleen main function is its governance of transformation and transportation (referred to as T&T throughout this article) of grain and water into essence which is distributed to other organ systems in the form of Qi and Blood. Thus it is vital to keep the spleen healthy because it is the source for qi and blood production for your entire body.
An important saying in Chinese medicine states,
“The spleen hates cold and the spleen hates dampness.”
So we must do what we can to keep the spleen warm and free of dampness. Spleen vacuity occurs when the process of transformation and transportation malfunctions, thus causing dampness to gather and stagnate instead of transforming which further weakens T&T. Then a vicious cycle begins.
Since other organ systems depend on receiving qi and blood from the spleen, they will become weakened when a patient suffers from chronic or long term spleen qi vacuity.
Spleen qi may become vacuous due to one or a combination of the following factors:
Over work in general and/or working at a desk all day.
Too much worrying, stress, anxiety
Over-thinking and obsessive thought patterns
Unhealthy dietary habits
Lack of exercise
Childbirth, child rearing
For example, students who work in addition to going to school or college, need to find time to study and may, quite naturally, worry about exams. In other cases, some patients have fatiguing chronic illness like cancer and fibromyalgia. Dancers and actors worry or even obsess about their weight despite the fact that many of them are underweight. Over weight patients worry and obsess about their weight for health or aesthetic reasons and feel a ridiculous amount societal and self-induced pressure to lose weight.
Many of my patients (over weight or not) are mentally obsessed with their weight and thus are constantly over-thinking about counting calories and sticking to hard to follow diets with point systems, blocks, deprivation diets or set meal plans of foods they don’t even enjoy eating.
And no matter who the person is that is dieting, whether skinny or overweight, many feel guilt instead of pleasure when indulging in a food they like but which isn’t in the meal plan. This feeling of guilt fits into the worry category.
Patients who do not exercise do not invigorate the Yang warming aspect of the body’s qi. Chinese medicine asserts that too much sitting or lying down creates qi vacuity. So for those who work at a desk all day, Spleen qi damage is imminent.
Many people damage the spleen qi by eating too many cold foods. Cold foods are literally cold from refrigeration or frozen, like ice, are foods that are cold in nature (see the list below) and include cold beverages and salad and last nights left over cold pizza (yeah, we’ve all been there).
Other detriments include our society’s over eating of wheat as our main source of grain, and too much beer drinking. Both are cool and dampness producing. Not to mention our over consumption of dairy. Imagine all the Spleen qi vacuity amongst college students between all that studying, beer and pizza!
The treatment principle for spleen qi vacuity dampness is to fortify the spleen and disinhibit the dampness.
Yang tonics will help to warm the spleen and to motivate the energy for the T&T cycle. They maintain and improve our ability to generate warmth and stimulate our system.
Yang tonics include:
Star Anise Thyme
Qi circulation is stimulated by the sweet and pungent flavors. The spleen likes the sweet taste and pungent flavors circulate the qi.
Qi circulating foods include:
Cold conditions are improved by warming foods. In chronic cases, warm and sweet/pungent foods are used to warm us steadily. In acute cases of pathogenic invasion, warm or hot foods are combined with stronger pungent flavors to drive out the Cold.
Warming foods include:
Dampness results from the body’s failure to transform fluids.
Dampness is treated by avoiding dampening foods, strengthening the body, including bitter foods and foods which counteract Dampness.
Foods to reduce dampness include:
Aduki Bean Alfalfa
Turnip Umeboshi Plum
Some foods will exacerbate the tendency towards Dampness and need to be reduced by people with damp conditions.Avoid or significantly reduce consumption of these foods:
Dairy Products, especially dampening are reduced fat and low fat dairy, as well as (sheep and goat products are less dampening)
Wheat and highly refined Gluten-free flours
Sugar and sweeteners
Greasy, fried and oily foods
Iced or cooled beverages
Uncooked raw vegetables and salads, juices
Antibiotics, while not a food, are very damaging to the Spleen qi and should only be used when absolutely necessary.
Phlegm refers to a condition of dampness where moisture is retained as Phlegm or Mucus.
Phlegm-resolving foods include:
Take these recommendations to your kitchen and cook some delicious meals for yourself to be well and stay healthy.
Chinese dietary therapy is a necessary component to healing this qi disharmony. I urge my readers to continue to take the herbs and acupuncture treatments that your practitioner recommends and incorporate the above information about diet into your therapy.
Steam inhalation therapy with essential oils is a simple and effective home remedy for headaches, sinus congestion, sinus pain and infections, respiratory ailments due to allergies, asthma, the common cold, influenza and bronchitis. Depending on the essential oils you use, steam inhalation can also calm the mind, nervous system and spirit.
What You Need:
Tea kettle or pot
Glass or Ceramic bowl- medium to large
Essential oils (see chart below to help you chose)
A bath towel
Boil filtered or spring water in a tea kettle until it steams.
Turn off the heat and remove the kettle using a potholder.
Take care to slowly pour the steaming water into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil to the water.
Place the towel over the top of your head so that it drapes over the sides of your head.
Close your eyes, lean over the bowl allowing the sides of the towel to create a tent over the sides of the bowl.
Inhale and exhale through your nose.
You will notice the scent fades in about 3-5 minutes. You can perform this treatment over again if you like.
As mucus loosens from steaming, clear your sinuses by gently blowing your nose into the tissues and discard them. As the water begins to cool down from hot to warm, place your washcloth in the water, ring it out and place it on your chest or the back of your neck. The warm compress will help release chest tightness and congestion, relaxes and loosens your neck muscles. Ahhhhhh.
How To Choose The Oils
For upper respiratory and sinus congestion try one of each or combine the following:
Peppermint 3-5 drops
Eucalyptus 3-5 drops
Camphor 3 drops
For Headaches unrelated to sinus problems:
Headache which are sharp or throbbing and may be combined with neck and shoulder tension try:
Aaaaachooooo! Sound familiar? Many of us will endure frequent sneezing fits this spring as allergy season moves into full swing. Allergy symptoms range from sneezing to watery, itchy, red eyes, scratchy throat, nasal congestion and clogged ears. In fact, many times it is difficult to distinguish between a severe allergy attack and the common cold. If left unattended severe allergy symptoms could develop into painful sinusitis.
Your main defense with Allergy control is to control your allergy should be to naturally aid your body to fend off allergy symptoms. Accomplish this by keeping the immune system functioning at its peak through a variety of home remedies such as Omega-3 supplements, quercetin ascorbate, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and Chinese herbs. These techniques can eliminate or significantly reduce your allergic response.
Dietary changes can do wonders to decrease the immune response that your body goes through when allergies strike. Dairy products like milk and cheese produce sinus congesting mucus and actually make your body more sensitive to the allergens. Not only can you have an allergic reaction to the dairy product, but the protein in the dairy also causes the immune system to work overtime. Without Allergy control your overworked immune system turns what could have been just a mild annoyance into a full-blown allergy attack.
Inflammation is the basic component in an allergic response. Foods and supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids have a multitude of useful functions, one of which is decreased inflammation in your body. By increasing your intake of Omega-3 foods such as fish oil, you will greatly decrease your reaction to the allergies. Some great fish choices for Omega-3 fatty acids are sardines and salmon (preferably wild). One study showed that children who regularly consumed oily fish were 74% less likely to develop asthma. You can also get Omega-3’s in capsule or liquid form. Make sure you get a pure source; you don’t want to consume mercury or PCBs along with it. For vegetarians, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil or algae are alternative sources. Another way to reduce the inflammation is to eat plenty of antioxidant rich fruits such as berries and cherries. However, the superior source is fatty fish. Fish contain the very important forms of Omega-3 called EPA and DHA. Flax seed oil contains a form called ALA, which can be converted in the body to EPA and DHA, but the conversion is slow and not as efficient. Algae on the other hand produce DHA but not EPA.
An effective allergy control method to clear out sinus irritants is nasal irrigation. A very popular method is the Neti Pot, a small pot that looks like Aladdin’s lamp. It is filled with saline solution, which you pour into your nose. It flows into one nostril and out of the other. It sounds a little messy, and it is, but provides great results. The pots generally come in plastic, stainless steel and porcelain. For hygienic reasons, I would recommend the stainless steel or porcelain.
And of course, if you smoke, STOP! Smoking worsens allergies and lowers your immune system. Not to mention that smoking causes lung and mouth cancer and heart disease. Ready to quit smoking? Acupuncture Works!
Allergies’ close brother, Asthma, can also be helped by allergy control tips and all of the above.
The principal controller of the immune system is the nervous system. The nervous system is more complex than the most powerful computer known to man. In a nutshell, the nervous system controls all aspects of health as well as every other function of the body. If there is interference to the nerve flow, the function of the body part controlled by the nerve will be impaired. The major cause of interference to the nerve is what is known as the Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC). This is a combination of events including the misalignment of one or more vertebra, chemical irritants, muscle spasm and even stress.
The main components of the VSC are:
Positional Dyskinesia (malposition/misalignment of a vertebra)
Fixation Dysfunction (restriction in any of the 6 motions that vertebrae move)
Neurophysiologic Dysfunction (neurologic interference brought on by the subluxation).
Myologic Changes (weakness, adhesions, degeneration of muscle).
Inflammation (Interarticular inflammation).
Vascular Changes (alterations of arterial and venous drainage of spinal column)
If the VSC is present in your body, it can interfere with the nerves that power the immune system. This may cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild allergies, to full blown asthma. Detection and treatment of VSC’s are paramount to a properly functioning body and a nervous system free from irritation. As a Chiropractic Physician my experience confirms that one of the best ways to treat VSC and keep the nervous system free from irritation is to have your spine examined and if needed, adjusted by a chiropractor. The chiropractic adjustment realigns the vertebra to remove pressure off the nerve restoring its function. The adjustments also make you less sensitive to the effects of histamine, the chemical involved in many allergic reactions. Chiropractic care can positively affect the immune system by increasing white cell blood count and decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol which inhibits the immune system. Allergy Control at Home:
Control Dust Mites
Wash bedding often and dust surfaces.
Vacuum once or twice a week to reduce surface dust mites. Wear a mask and make sure your vacuum has an air filter to capture dust.
Reduce pet dander
Avoid pets with feathers or fur. Keep pets out of the bedroom.
Shut out pollen
Keep windows and doors closed. Use an air filter and clean it regularly.
By Dr. Thomas Cristello, DC with Juliette Aiyana
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Dr. Cristello maintains a Chiropractic practice in the Flat Iron District of NYC. Visit his website for more information www.drcristello.com or call (212) 375.9802
Bronfort, G, Evans RI, Kubic P, Filin P . Chronic Pediatric Asthma and Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation, a Prospective Clinical Series and Randomized Clinical Pilot Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 24(6), 369-77.
Graham, RL and Pistolese RA. . An Impairment Rating Analysis of Asthmatic Children Under Chiropractic Care. Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 1(4), 1-8.
Hodge L, Salome CM, Peat JK, et al. . Consumption of Oily Fish and Childhood Asthma Risk. Medical Journal of Australia, 164, 137-140.
Using Acupuncture for asthma and allergies is safe and effective.
In the 10th grade, I played baseball with a kid who had a swing that begged you to take notice. He was a natural, and everyone from the kids to the adults knew it. Though his swing was as sweet as honey, he had an Achilles heel. He had asthma. When a ball is hit into the gap in the outfield, that usually means a double in baseball, but he could not make the effort to run to second because he might end up with an attack. His doubles were usually singles. He would have attacks at the beginning of the season when a chill was still in the air that ended up keeping him out of the entire game. Talent does nothing for a team when it is riding the pine. He did not play baseball beyond the 11th grade. His natural talent was hindered by asthma and more importantly, the quality of his life was diminished. He loved playing, but it was too much for his body to handle. He was not the only kid I knew whom suffered from asthma. Growing up, I was surrounded by kids who had a variety of ailments, and I could see how it affected their lives in so many ways. They got called down to the school nurse every day for medication; they had certain things that they couldn’t eat, etc. I took note of these things as a kid, and maybe it had influence on my choice of profession as an acupuncturist and herbalist.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. During an acute asthma attack, the inside walls of these tubular airways become inflamed, the muscles spasm, and excess mucus accumulates. The attacks can be triggered by a variety of things such as:
Foods or food additives – sulfites are a big culprit and are found in dried fruits and wine, among a whole host of other foods.
Click here to read about sulfite sensitivity and a list of foods that could contain sulfites.
When the airways react and are having an attack, they become narrower, and less air flows through to your lung tissue. This causes symptoms like wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing.1
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The Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) Treatment of Asthma
The severity and frequency of asthma varies from patient to patient.
For example, here are two possible manifestations:
is asymptomatic between attacks.
asthma attacks are mild and only come once each year and are manageable with rest.
has a cough, phlegm, and wheezing between asthma attacks.
asthma attacks occur once a week and can be so severe that the patient is hospitalized once a month.
Treatment for asthma is broken down into two categories: managing the acute attacks by easing the intensity of the attack and maximizing the time between the attacks. The long-term goal of treatment is to provide the patient with a better quality of life or increased feeling of well being. If a patient is having attacks every week, and with treatment they are able to have them every other week, treatment should theoretically bring them a better quality of life because they are suffering half of the attacks over 1 year than they would have without treatment. This reduction is a very important aspect to treating recurrent, chronic diseases such as asthma.
TCM Theory about Breathing and Asthma
According to TCM theory, the lung and the kidney both take part in breathing. The lung opens at the nose, is responsible for breathing, and the production of true qi. The lung is the way that the da qi (“great qi” aka air) enters the body. The da qi is important to the person because this is mixed with the qi of food to create usable qi that a person can use day to day. The kidney plays an important role in breathing, too. The kidney is the root of a person’s qi. If the kidney qi is insufficient, other organs may dysfunction. The lung’s ability to absorb da qi is partly dependent on the kidney. If kidney essential qi is insufficient, it is incapable of ensuring the absorption of da qi through the lung. This results in respiratory insufficiency which can result in the signs and symptoms of asthma.2
Through the use of acupuncture, herbs, and dietary analysis, asthma can be managed through TCM. Asthma presents as a repletion or excess pattern during the acute attack. The periods in between attacks are characterized as a vacuity or depletion pattern. Let’s explore the acute attack and the period between the attacks to see how TCM categorizes each.3
Repletion – the asthma attack
The acute asthma attack is something that the body reacts to that is in excess, meaning it is not supposed to be there in the body; it is too much (in excess). The trigger that causes the attack is something that is not supposed to be in the body, and the asthma sufferer’s body responds with an asthma attack. These triggers are called external evils in TCM. The more frequently the external evils attack the body, the weaker the body becomes. The body is like an army that is attacked over and over again by the asthma trigger, sometimes without fully replenishing its resources. This can cause a vacuity or a weakness in the patient’s body leaving it even more vulnerable to future attacks sometimes making them more frequent and intense.
Vacuity – the state of the patient’s body and health
The period between the attacks show the state of patient’s true body strength and ability to fend off the trigger. This tends to be a state of
weakness or vacuity in asthma patients. This is the time for the patient to replenish the resources that were depleted due to the asthma attack. There are occasional instances where phlegm can become lodged in the lungs. This is called a mixed pattern of vacuity (state of the patient’s body) and repletion (an abundance of phlegm making a home in the lungs). The overall treatment goal at this stage is to strengthen the body (fill the vacuity) so that the attacks are less frequent and less intense because the body is stronger. Phlegm can be dislodged from the lungs while simultaneously strengthening them. This will make the patient’s life easier and much more enjoyable because he/she does not have to take so much time off from work or time out of recreational activities.
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Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Asthma
Giving acupuncture and cupping during an asthma attack can help to calm the patient down and to aid in opening up the chest muscles to provide easier breathing. Acupuncture can help to shorten the length and severity of the asthma attack.
It is more common to treat people when they are in the remittent state. The goal of the treatment during this stage is to supplement the body with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary changes in order to strengthen the body’s qi. If there is some phlegm lodged in the lungs and some cough and wheezing during this time, relieving those symptoms are also part of the treatment. The diet is analyzed to see if what the patient is eating is exacerbating the asthma attacks. In general, it is best to stick to a diet that consists of whole foods that are not prepackaged or fast food. Whole, organic, real foods have less/no additives and have better qi. The more healthy the qi of the food you put into your body, the stronger your body’s defenses and the better able your lungs will be to resist your asthma trigger. Try to keep dairy intake to a minimum as TCM dietary theory states that dairy products can exacerbate phlegm production. A qualified, well-trained TCM practitioner will be able to diagnose your vacuity pattern correctly and get you on the path to a better quality of life!
NYC Air Quality & Differences in Seasonal Air One of the hot topics in NYC since 9/11 has been air quality. There was a severely diminished quality of air in the city for that acute time, but there is now more attention paid to this topic. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health.4 The worse the air quality, the worse your asthma could become due to the fact that more particle matter in the air can cause more irritation and inflammation.
Here is a link to a fact sheet talking about asthma and air pollution put out by the EPA. They have some good tips about how to protect your lungs during differing levels of pollutants in the air. Here is a link to a daily update on the air quality in NYC.
Another thing to consider is if you are affected by the air of the different seasons. Does cold, dry winter trigger your asthma? Maybe the humid heat of the NYC summer? How about spring air that is full of pollen? Take the seasons into account to see when you should be taking more of a break from the outdoors as opposed to being more active. Speak with your practitioner about what your triggers are so that your attacks can be minimized.
Blue Poppy introduced our version of Li Dong-yuan’s Astragalus & Ginseng formula for the prevention of seasonal allergic rhinitis. However, numerous customers have asked us to also create a formula for the remedial treatment of allergic rhinitis. In response to this request, I have combed the Chinese medical literature for what I believe is the best formula for the treatment of allergic rhinitis during its acute stage. After reading scores of Chinese research reports on various formulas, I kept coming back to a formula which I personally have used in my own practice for a number of years. This formula is a modification of Bi Qiu Tang (Sniveling Nose Decoction) created by Dr. Wei Zi-zhang of the First Affiliated Hospital of the Guangxi College of Chinese Medicine. Our version, AllerEase is a 9:1 extract and is available in bottles of 60 500mg capsules.
This formula is based on the concepts that everyone who has allergic rhinitis has a defensive qi vacuity and everyone who has allergic rhinitis has deep-lying or hidden phlegm in their lungs. Although there are different opinions about the creation of defensive qi, after 23 years of practicing Chinese medicine, I agree with the authors of the Nei Jing (Inner Classic) that the defensive qi exists or issues from the middle burner. In my experience, it is the spleen qi’s upbearing of the clear which supplements the lung qi, and the lungs control the defensive qi. In addition, it is said, “The spleen is the root of phlegm engenderment; the lungs are the place where phlegm is stored.” If the spleen is or becomes vacuous and weak, it will lose control over the movement and transformation of water fluids in the body. These will collect and transform into dampness. If dampness lingers and is retained, it tends to congeal into phlegm over time.
In terms of Chinese medical theory, pollen, animal dander, airborne molds, and microscopic dust are all species of wind evils. Wind evils refer to invisible pathogens which tend to be airborne (although they do not absolutely have to be). If a person’s defensive qi is vacuous and fails to secure the exterior, wind evils may take advantage of this vacuity and enter the body. The lungs are the florid canopy as well as the tender viscus. Therefore, the lungs are typically the first viscus to be affected by invading wind evils. If these evils hinder and obstruct the diffusion and downbearing of the lung qi, then the lungs lose their control over the water passageways. Instead of fluids being downborne, these back up, if there is already phlegm rheum deep-lying in the lungs, this phlegm counterflows upward along with the lung qi. Thus there is sneezing, nasal congestion, and runny nose. Because the lungs open into the orifices of the nose, wind evils cause itching of the nose.
Although it is wind evils which cause the paroxysmal or acute stage of allergic rhinitis, the pattern that patients with allergic rhinitis present is one of wind cold. Wind describes the disease cause and cold describes the kind of phlegm rheum that is evident. The runny nose that is pathognomonic of allergic rhinitis is a clear, thin, copious watery phlegm. This is cold phlegm as opposed to phlegm heat which is thick, opaque, and tends to be yellow. While allergic rhinitis may transform into sinusitis, if there is yellow or green phlegm, then this is both a different disease and a different pattern. Simple allergic rhinitis always presents a wind cold pattern. Further, because the defensive exterior is, ipso facto, vacuous and insecure and because there is typically a continuous, unceasing runny nose, the lung qi is insecure and failing to astringe.
This means that the treatment principles for wind cold allergic rhinitis are to fortify the spleen and boost the qi, diffuse the lungs and dispel wind, transform phlegm and warm rheum, and open the orifices of the nose at the same time as astringing and securing the lung qi, and this is exactly what Wei Zi-zhang’s formula does. Within it, Dang Shen, Huang Qi, Bai Zhu, Yi Yi Ren, and Shan Yao supplement the lungs, spleen, and kidneys, the three viscera which govern water metabolism in the body. He Zi and Wu Wei Zi secure the lungs and specifically stop runny nose. Fang Feng and Jing Jie Sui gently dispel wind evils from the exterior while not damaging the defensive qi. Xin Yi Hua and Bo He open the orifices and free the flow of the nose, thus relieving nasal congestion. Chan Tui dispels wind and stops itching. Jie Geng guides the other medicinals to the lungs and also transforms phlegm. Gan Jiang warms the lungs and transforms phlegm. The combination of Yi Yi Ren and Ze Xie seeps dampness via urination and, therefore, helps Bai Zhu eliminate dampness. Gan Cao harmonizes all the other medicinals in the formula at the same time as helping fortify the spleen and supplement the qi. Thus this formula exactly fits the disease mechanisms of this condition.
This formula is not meant for long-term administration. Once the allergic attack has been brought under control, the practitioner should consider switching the patient to Astragalus & Ginseng in order to address the underlying disease mechanisms during the remission stage. However, during acute allergic attacks, one should consider taking more AllerEase than the recommended dose on the bottle. This dosage is only for FDA purposes. It is a minimum daily dose. For larger persons and for quicker effect, this dose may typically be doubled or tripled without harm. During acute attacks, one should suspend Astragalus & Ginseng. It is not necessary or particularly beneficial to take both formulas at the same time. AllerEase itself treats both the root and branches (or tips) simultaneously.
Of course, patients with allergic rhinitis will typically also have to modify their diet. One cannot expect huge results if they continue eating a lot of dairy products, sugars and sweets, and oily, greasy, fatty foods. Nevertheless, research in China has shown this formula to be extremely effective for the remedial treatment of acute allergic rhinitis. Thirty-three patients with wind cold allergic rhinitis and an underlying lung-spleen vacuity were given a single course of treatment with this formula and then followed for six months. In six cases, their symptoms disappeared and did not recur for the full six months of the study. In 23 cases, their symptoms recurred after more than three months but less than six months. However, repeat treatment was able to immediately eliminate their symptoms. Only four cases got no effect. Thus the total effectiveness of this formula was 87.8%. When combined with proper diet and Astragalus & Ginseng, one should be able to dramatically decrease any tendency to relapse. With the late summer and early fall allergy season soon upon, order a supply of AllerEase® today. You won’t be sorry you did.