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Treating hay fever and other allergies with acupuncture

I’ve treated many people for hay fever (and other similar allergies) and the treatments are usually extremely successful. Indeed, on the Testimonials page of this website there are testimonials from three separate patients, reporting (what seems to them like) the miraculous results of the treatments; and I have to say that their experiences are typical of the many other patients I’ve also treated for this problem.

The underlying cause

In Chinese medicine, allergies to pollen, and also to such things as animal fur, household dust, cosmetics, and so on; are usually all due to the same underlying cause, which is a weakness in the functioning of the kidneys.

When Chinese medicine was being developed, well over two thousand years ago, in order to initially determine what the functions of the internal organs were, their focus was always on the observable symptoms of the patient. In this way, the ancient Chinese were able to identify a wider range of functions for each organ than has been possible with more recent medicine, which instead used the “inside-out” approach to try to work out the functions of each organ. That is, their approach was to dissect bodies, examine the anatomy of the organs and attempt to work out their function in that way. Consequently Chinese medicine was able to observe functions (including physical, mental, and emotional functions) which have not so far been identified by disciplines that rely on the “inside-out” approach.

The important role that our kidneys play in our “immunity” is one of these functions, as is the tendency to be fearful and to have a weak short-term memory when your kidney function is weak.

If a person has suffered hay fever from childhood, this would usually indicate that they were born with “Kidney Deficiency” (which is the term used for this syndrome in Chinese medicine). This might be because one or both of their parents were “getting on a bit” when the child was conceived; or that they were younger but had Kidney Deficiency themselves (possibly due to extended overworking) and they simply passed this on to the child.

When a young child has Kidney Deficiency, they may also be prone to asthma (if the asthma is of the type where it’s difficult to breath in, which is also caused by Kidney Deficiency).

If the hay fever has developed later in life, the Kidney Deficiency may be due to a number of possible causes; this could be overworking for extended periods; driving yourself too hard; being used to “running on adrenaline”; being subject to fear for an extended period, or simply suffering a deeply fearful event; or, in women, possibly due to difficult child birthing experiences.

Other possible symptoms

When patients have Kidney Deficiency, there are a range of possible symptoms that this might produce, including:

  • weak, sore, or painful low back and/or knees
  • frequent and urgent urination; incontinence
  • short-term memory problems
  • mental dullness, feeling dizzy or light-headed;
  • hard of hearing, or deafness
  • low pitch tinnitus, or other similar sounds
  • premature greying or thinning of hair
  • infertile; low libido; premature ejaculation (feel light-headed after sex)
  • shortness of breath on mild exertion; or asthma (of the type where it’s difficult to breath in)
  • hay fever; allergies to animal fur, house dust, cosmetics, and so on
  • distorted sense of fear (either feeling too fearful, or having an unnatural absence of fear in situations that most people would find fearful)
  • feel hot at night (wake sweating, or wake with a dry mouth)
  • oedema

Along with hay fever, you may have one or more of the other symptoms listed above. If so, these would also be addressed by the treatment.

It should be mentioned that Kidney Deficiency is a natural part of aging. With all people, as they enter the later years of life, their kidney function will begin to weaken; and as can be seen from the above list, all the symptoms of “old age” are listed there. However, when Kidney Deficiency occurs earlier in life, this can usually be addressed with treatment. Indeed, after a few sessions of treatment, as well as the immediate hay fever symptoms greatly reducing, people will often report that their short term memory is improved; urination is less frequent, and so on (with patient’s who suffered those other symptoms).

The treatment

There are two objectives in treating hay fever. My first would be to clear any of the immediate symptoms you may be suffering (the “acute” symptoms); and my second would be to also treat your underlying Kidney Deficiency. Typical acute symptoms of hay fever would be dry, itching, bloodshot, and watery eyes; itching at the back of the throat; sinuses blocked, with a sensation of pressure, and possibly an accompanying headache.

There are a range of acupuncture points that are extremely effective at clearing all these symptoms. In fact, with most patients, the symptoms will usually clear during the session.

Most of the above symptoms are signs of “Heat” (that is, “Heat” as referred to in Chinese medicine; the red eyes, itching in the eyes, nose, and throat are all signs of “Heat”). This concept of “Heat” in Chinese medicine is not straightforward to translate into Western terminology. But notions of “bacterial” or “viral” infections would be regarded as different forms of “Heat” in Chinese medicine terminology. The names are different, but, of course, the illness is the same.

How many sessions are required and how quickly are the effects noticed?

Acupuncture readily and quickly clears most forms of “Heat” from the body. When this is focused on the eyes and nose, there are a range of acupuncture points (acupoints) that can be used. The points are usually on the “channels” (or “meridians”) that end or start near the eyes and nose; though I would usually use acupoints at the other end of those channels, rather than at the end near to the eyes. For example, two very effective acupoints are SJ-5 and LI-4. These are on the top of the hand, near the wrist. A needle would be placed in the acupoint at this location and this would enable the Heat from the other end of the channel (affecting the eyes) to be vented from the body, which, as I’ve said above, would usually happen within a few minutes during the acupuncture session.

To treat the underlying Kidney Deficiency, I would choose acupoints that increase the strength of the kidney function. It would normally take several sessions for you to start to gradually notice the effects of this, which would be by a gradual reduction in the symptoms listed above, under the heading “Other possible symptoms”.

Normally, your first course of treatments for a long-term problem such as this would consist of one treatment a week, for six weeks. After the first session, the benefits might only last a day or two, but after each successive treatment, the benefits would usually last longer. After your sixth treatment, it would be usual for you to be symptom-free for a whole week, and at this stage we would then start increasing the length between your treatments, starting with a two week gap.

Most patients would then usually soon get to the stage where they only needed a “maintenance” treatment about once a month, or so, to remain symptom free, even with problems that they’d previously been suffering for many years. But the progress of your treatment does depend on how stressful a life you lead, and on your own constitution. If, for example, you tend to have a weak constitution (become ill very quickly and usually take a long time to recover) and you’re leading a very stressful life and find it difficult (or don’t want) to make any changes to your lifestyle, then for you to remain symptom free after your initial course of treatments, you’re likely to require fairly frequent maintenance treatments, possibly even as often as one treatment every two weeks. Whereas with people who have a strong constitution and are keen to make changes to their lifestyle to help improve their health, they might only require a follow-up treatment once every few months, or even less.

Testimonials from existing patients

On the Testimonials page of this website are comments from some of my existing patients. Several have commented on their treatment for hay fever.