Fall 08: Seasonal Allergies

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Treating and Preventing The Root Cause and Symptomatic Branches Naturally  

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, is a common condition that can be treated with Chinese herbal medicine.  Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include (but are not limited to): runny nose and/or nasal congestion; red, itchy eyes; sneezing; headaches; and/or dizziness.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, seasonal allergies are considered an invasion of wind with heat or dampness.  The invasion of wind reflects that an external pathogen, such as an allergen, is affecting the body.  If the external pathogen of dampness is also invading, there will be fluid issues such as runny nose and nasal congestion.  If heat invades, symptoms such as red, itchy eyes will occur. This external invasion of wind, heat, and dampness occurs due to a weak defensive layer known as Wei Qi, somewhat similar to what we understand is our immune system. 

    The treatment of seasonal allergies with Chinese herbal medicine focuses on prevention by treating the underlying Wei Qi deficiency that allows for these symptoms to occur. During acute attacks in allergy season, treatments additionally focus on alleviating the symptoms themselves.  

    Fu Ping Feng San is a common herbal formula that is used in the prevention of seasonal allergies.  This simple formula containing Huang Qi (astragalus), Fang Feng (Saposhnikovia) and Bai Zhu (atractylodes) should be taken before allergy season starts to strengthen the body’s defensive system thereby preventing acute allergic attacks.  Huang Qi Ren Shen Tang Jia Jian (Modified Astragalus and Ginseng) is also a patent herbal formula that is used for the prevention of allergies when taken six to eight (6-8) weeks before allergy season starts.

    Once allergy symptoms have started, there are various formulas one can take with some common ingredients.  Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia flower) and Cang Er Zi (Xanthium fruit) relieve allergy symptoms of nasal discharge/obstruction and sneezing by unblocking nasal passages. Bai Zhi (Angelica root) is used to treat headaches, clear discharges, and open the nasal passages.  Other ingredients can also be combined to develop a formula that addresses the specific pattern of symptoms the patient is exhibiting.  These individualized Chinese herbal formulas are used to treat seasonal allergies effectively and safely. Please note that the patient should be monitored consistently by a licensed herbalist during the course of the herbal treatment to ensure quality of care.