In Chinese medicine, Spring is associated with Wood, the element of new beginnings, a surge of rising energy and personal growth. As Winter officially comes to an end, watch as the days gradually become warmer and brighter, as Mother Nature starts to rouse from her winter slumber and looks ahead to the new growth of Spring. Wood, which has been at rest, storing and concentrating its energy under a winter blanket, now bursts forth with new life piercing Earth’s surface. And very often with that surge comes wind, which brings about an upheaval of…ALLERGIES!
From a Chinese medicine point of view, the root cause of allergies vary from person to person, so you will likely never see a TCM practitioner creating the same herbal formula or choosing the same acupuncture points for different allergy patients. Importantly with allergies, there is an imbalance of a single or multiple organs: the more common organs involved include the Lungs, Kidneys, Stomach and/or Liver. What’s more, allergies can “spring” up at any time of year. If yours make an appearance in the spring (associated with the Liver), most likely we’ll first look at the Liver to see what type of imbalance exists there as well as its relationship with the other organs.
Here are a few natural remedies that you can incorporate this spring to keep your Liver happy while alleviating your spring allergy woes:
Acupuncture and herbal medicine: Many patients suffering from allergies find great relief following their acupuncture sessions, as the practitioner will focus on moving stagnant Qi, transforming phlegm, expelling wind and heat from the eyes, and unblocking obstruction in the nasal passages. Again, if you are being treated for allergies in the spring, your practitioner will likely look at the Liver for likely imbalance (itchy skin, red itchy eyes - the Liver governs the eyes and abhors wind) and provide you with herbs to complement this effort.
Diet: Diet is extremely important when treating allergies! Patients will be well advised to steer clear of all inflammatory food categories: dairy, gluten, refined sugars, caffeine and alcohol. Foods and beverages in these categories exacerbate an allergic condition, and make inflammation only worse.
Top 3 supplements: 1.Probiotics populate the gut with good bacteria while boosting immunity, producing a stronger response to common allergens. Our favorite probiotic of late is MegaSporbiotic by Microbiome Labs. 2. A common deficiency in many people in the Bay Area, Vitamin D might also be suggested as an addition to your regimen as it helps boost the immune system and can therefore help prevent an overreaction to allergens. Consider a Vit D that also contains Vit K2 for optimal calcium absorption. 3. Quercetin, an antioxidant found in foods such as leafy vegetables, broccoli, red onion and green tea, when taken in supplement form can have potent antihistamine effects.
Teas for allergy relief: Sip on delicious and medicinal herbal teas such as nettle, dandelion, rooibos, licorice, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, rosehip teas which have varying levels of bioflavonoids and antioxidants that help block histamines, relieve irritated mucous membranes and/or have properties to loosen phlegm.
Aromatherapy: Diffusing essential oils such as lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, eucalyptus, lemon/citrus and peppermint can be beneficial for reducing inflammation, calming the Liver and unblocking congestion.
Movement: Gentle exercise such as Qigong is a powerful healing tool that helps balance the body’s internal energy supply as well as strengthens organ function.
Be sure to talk with your practitioner about the best holistic ways that can best alleviate your personal allergy symptoms so that you may enjoy this spring, sneeze-free!