Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

How acupuncture can help with hayfever

Written by Jackie Graham   Posted in:Acupuncture Therapy   July 10, 2015

How acupuncture can help with hayfever
The hay fever season is well and truly upon us. Hayfever or Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis, to give it its proper name, can be debilitating. The weather news tells us pollen counts are high and everywhere we see sufferers coughing, sneezing and rubbing their eyes.  We all either suffer from hay fever ourselves or know someone who does.  One in five people are affected by hayfever.

Symptoms of hayfever

  • frequent sneezing
  • runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • cough, caused by postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the throat from the back of the nose)
Less common symptoms are:
  • the loss of your sense of smell
  • facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)
  • headaches
  • earache
  • tiredness and fatigue
Although it’s not a serious condition it can make life miserable for the sufferer during the hay fever season, and if you are an asthma sufferer  wheezing and tightening of the chest can make you feel even worse.

WHO Report on Acupuncture for Hay Fever

The World Health Organisation strongly recommends acupuncture for hay fever.  Clinical trials have found it to be more effective than antihistamine drugs although findings are yet to be verified. 
 “WHO Acupuncture: review and analysis of controlled clinical trials

2.4 Respiratory disorders

Acupuncture is often used in treating respiratory disorders. Allergic rhinitis is one of the major indications. In controlled studies, it has been shown that acupuncture is more effective than antihistamine drugs in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (111–115). Acupuncture’s lack of side-effects is a distinct advantage in treating this condition; however, its protective effect against allergen-provoked rhinitis has not been verified (116).”

How Can Acupuncture Help Hay Fever?

Chinese Medicine differs to Western Medicine in that it is not interested in what is causing your reaction, but in how your body responds to it.  In Chinese Medicine terms hay fever is generally seen as an attack on the Lung channel.  The Lung is the Yin organ (as in Yin and Yang) most open to the elements as it has a direct connection to the outside via the throat.  Thus it is the most likely of the Yin organs to suffer invasions from pathogens, which is why coughs and colds are so predominant.  For a patient with an acute attack of hay fever I would use points on the body to calm the symptoms he or she is presenting with.

Why do Some People Get Hay Fever While Others Don’t?

Again in Chinese Medicine terminology, some people have underlying weaknesses which open them up to this kind of attack.  Usually the weakness is found in the Lung, Liver or Spleen channels.  Please Note: I am talking about Chinese Medicine NOT Western Medicine.  Please don’t go and tell your GP you have a lung/liver/spleen problem, she will not be impressed. 
But why is it important to know about this weakness?  It’s important because once your symptoms have been brought under control and you can function normally again you should consider continuing with acupuncture treatment, perhaps on a two weekly basis or less depending on your acupuncturists advice.  Or if time/money does not permit this, consider having acupuncture treatment in the 3 month run-up to the hay fever season.  This gives acupuncture a chance to strengthen your body so that when hay fever hits it will not be as extreme as previously.  If you do this each year you should gradually see your symptoms diminishing.

Response to Acupuncture

People’s responses to acupuncture vary but often there is a three day delay between acupuncture treatment and the patient feeling the benefit of it.  There are no side-effects with acupuncture and if you have treatment on a long-term basis, as described above, you should find that your allergy lessens each year, although it is not a cure.

Top Tip

Taking a daily spoonful of local honey, i.e. honey produced within a 10 mile radius of where you live, is supposed to give you antigens to help you combat hay fever.  There is no scientific evidence for this and it may be an old wives tale, but many tales have their basis in truth so why not give it a go and see.

You will almost certainly need more than one acupuncture treatment when your symptoms are at their worst.  You will probably need acupuncture twice a week for the first couple of weeks until things start to calm down. 

Click here to read how one sufferer found relief through acupuncture.

Visit BAcC (British Acupuncture Council) for information on treatment of hay fever.

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