Allergies can be quite the inconvenience for those who suffer from them, especially when they prevent one from fully enjoying what each season has to offer.
In the world of immunology, allergies are referred to as hypersensitivity reactions, which means that they trigger an over-reaction of the immune system.
Allergies and the Seasons
Seasonal allergies are the type of immune reactions that are triggered by the allergens, also known as antigens, of a respective season. For example, spring is typically the most allergy inducing season, mostly due to flowers blooming and releasing pollen into the atmosphere. In turn, these pollens act as allergens that react with the immune system of the individual who is sensitive to them.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Common symptoms range from an itchy throat and watery eyes, to severe inflammation of the respiratory tract and even vomiting. These symptoms are due to the fact that the body treats pollens and other allergens like an infectious microbe. Inflammation is an attempt to quarantine the infection, watery eyes is an attempt to rinse it out, and vomiting is an attempt to expel it from the body.
Common relief for seasonal allergies involves the use of antihistamines, which block the release of histamine. Histamine is an inflammatory component and triggers an even larger immune response to get rid of the antigen at hand.
However, antihistamines can react with other types of medication and should therefore be used with caution. To avoid such potential complications, a more holistic approach to allergy treatment, like acupuncture, is a good option.
Acupuncture as Relief
Acupuncture has been used to help treat symptoms of allergic reactions for generations. This form of Traditional Chinese Medicine works by restoring the flow of qi in the body, which is defined as life energy, in order to promote self-healing and balance in the body. Treatment includes the insertion of very fine needles in the outermost layer of tissue at precise anatomical points to restore energy flow to meridians.
Meridians are described as energy pathways from which qi can flow, and meridians that are blocked disturb the flow of energy in the body leading to stress, trauma, illness, and variety of complications.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine
There are often disputes between the connection of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Western Medicine approaches that most are so familiar with. While much remains to be learned about this relationship, there are some fundamental overlaps between the two practices that give a better glimpse at that connection.
Stress and Immunity:
The first connection is the effect of stress on immune function. Acupuncture has been proven to help alleviate pain, and therefore alleviates pain associated stress. A Harvard Medical School study states that “overall, acupuncture relieved pain by about 50%”. Stress is a silent killer that triggers a variety of hormonal responses that in the long-run can be devastating.
In addition, acute and chronic stress responses have a weakening effect on the immune system via hormonal pathways.
The Organ Overlap:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a strong emphasis on the organs, especially those associated with the meridians targeted in acupuncture. Examples are the heart and lung meridians, which are not only associated with the respective organ, but also of joy and sadness, respectively.
Additionally, the spleen is associated with stress in Tradition Chinese Medicine and immunity in Western Medicine. The spleen is known as a secondary lymphoid organ, the site a maturity (or “education center”) for certain lymphocytes capable of antigen-dependent activation. That is, cells that become activated by the presence of a certain antigens that interact with an immunological marker (an antibody, also known as immunoglobulins).
While the connection is not entirely clear, there is a fascinating aspect of the human body that remains to be uncovered and such overlaps help us draw those connections.
Acupuncture at Santa Cruz CORE Fitness + Rehab is much more than just traditional methods of chinese medicine. Experts at Santa Cruz CORE have a passion for healing and achieving results and practice a variety of techniques to do so.
The combination of needling, moxa, gua sha, cupping, ear seeds, massage, Tai Chi, and Qi Gung, help in restoring energy balance to each individual. Furthermore, each person is treated as an individual, with a different treatment plan customized for their specific needs.
Pendick, Daniel. “Acupuncture Is worth a Try for Chronic Pain.” Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Medical School, 01 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2017. .