Trees are blossoming, flowers are blooming, birds are singing… Spring is in the air…. Achoo! Our lovely team member Zahra shares her tips on how to beat hay fever using TCM.

Hay fever is also known as allergic Rhinitis and affects many Melbournians. An allergic reaction to allergens in our environment can lead to a stuffy or runny nose, itchy watery eyes, scratchy or sore throat, sneezing and postnasal drip.

There are two main types of hay-fever:
1. Seasonal hay fever, which occurs at specific times of year
2. Perennial hay fever, which can happen all year round

Some people can even suffer from both, which means they have mild hay-fever symptoms all throughout the year which feel worse in the spring. The seasonal hay-fever is the more commonly seen of the two, affecting about 1 in 5 Australians. The changeable weather in spring seems to really challenge our immune systems. Pollens, dry winds and hot/cold weather, one after the other; no matter what your trigger is, seems like this year everyone is copping it!

In the wonderful world of Acupuncture and TCM we believe our bodies work as an intricate whole. Hay fever, or any other lingering, annoying condition, can be a sign that your body is out of balance in some way. Your current issues, niggles, struggles, aches, pains and irritations matter! Whether you are a recent sufferer or have been putting up with it forever, random acts of self-prescription or active acts of self-neglect are not advisable, especially if you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant.

Hay fever can be a sign of an underlying predisposition for immune dysregulation and possible gut problems. This may potentially have negative impacts on fertility. The other flaw is that regular use of anti-histamines can affect thyroid function. Unless absolutely necessary, they are best not to be taken during pregnancy although more research on its safety is needed. Sometimes professional assistance is needed to understand your circumstances fully. This is where we come in. Chat with us today to get more information on natural options such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion, lymphatic draining or ear candling.

What causes hay fever?
Hay fever is caused the immune system overreacts when confronted with allergens such as grass, pollen, animal dander, dust and fungal spores. This over-reaction results in release of histamine which acts to dilate blood vessels, contract muscles and increase white blood cells, creating the symptoms of hay-fever in the respiratory tract.

The main causes of allergy include:

• unhealthy diet;
• weak immune system;
• high level of stress.

7 tips for getting your hay-fever sneezing and snotting frustration under control:

1. Add a Smoothie To Your Day
Green Juices and Smoothies: anti-inflammatory, full of nutrients to support your immune system, and greens have a knock on effect in soothing the liver. Green smoothies that include fruits like apples, peaches, cherries, red grapes, citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and acai berries not only taste good but can be really beneficial for allergy sufferers. Add leafy greens such as kale and romaine lettuce, as well as broccoli.

2. Consider a Mediterranean Diet
In a study published in the journal Thorax, a Mediterranean diet was analyzed among children in a population with minimal allergy sufferers. They found that children who ate more fruits and vegetables – specifically grapes, oranges, apples and fresh tomatoes – were found to have a lesser incidence of wheezing and allergic rhinitis than children who did not eat more servings of these fruits and vegetables.

3. Load Up On Vitamin C and Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Include lots of natural anti-histamine foods in your diet. Foods rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids such as parsley and green leafy veggies (another reason for your daily green smoothie), capsicum, sweet potato, tomatoes, citrus fruits and mangos. Some lemon juice in warm water is a perfect way to start your day. Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory action so give yourself regular meals of grilled salmon with broccoli and other vitamin C rich veggies. Plus a handful of walnuts a day to snack on.

4. Sip on Some Tea
A quality loose leaf organic Nettle tea infused overnight for a strong brew reduces allergic symptoms. Drink 2-3 cups a day. Our Organic Wellness Detox Tea is also recommended, particularly if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or overindulging of late.

5. Try Acupuncture
Acupressure points: These acupressure points bring quick relief if your nose or sinus’ feel congested or irritated. You’ll know when you are pressing the right spot because it feels really good.
– LI20 – in the nasolabial groove, on the side of nostrils
– St 2 – at the centre of the cheekbone, directly below the pupil of the eye
– UB2 – at the tip of the brow
– Du23 – on the mid-line of the scalp, about 1 cm above the hairline

6. Avoid The Cause Or Use Protection
If the forecast predict a high pollen count or windy day, try to stay indoors as much as possible, and wash your face with cold water often. Rubbing paw-paw ointment inside each nostril may help in catching the pollen before it irritates the lining of the nose.

7. Ditch That Drink and Put Down The Bread
Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms so limit intake during the hay fever season. Avoid inflammatory foods such as gluten, sugar and dairy to help regulate your immune function.

How Can Acupuncture Treat Hay Fever?

Chinese medicine uses acupuncture needles, cupping, massage, herbal medicine, moxa and dietary advice treatment of hay-fever. Directly after an acupuncture session you may notice:

– decongested sinus region
– clearer eyes
– reduced sneezing
– easier breathing

Research shows acupuncture to be effective in reducing allergen specific IgE and therefore reducing itchiness and sneezing. The researchers at RMIT and Monash University conducted an acupuncture study for treatment and management of Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (SAR) on 175 hay-fever patients and concluded “acupuncture treatment is a safe and effective option for clinical management of SAR in the Melbourne area”. This Victorian trial study found that acupuncture could help relieve symptoms for up to four weeks after the treatments stopped.
This research also recommended sufferers to get pre-seasonally treatments to prevent unbearable symptoms in the coming peak hay fever season of the year.

Don’t let the hay fever get you down this spring. Enquire about a treatment today and kiss that sneezing nose goodbye.