Treating allergies in Chinese Medicine really revolves around using acupuncture points to help reduce the inflammation of the sinuses, support the body's return to homeostasis and also combat what TCM refers to as "dampness".
Dampness can be related to swelling, feelings of bloating or distension, aches in joints that get worse in rainy weather, but in today's post it is specifically a reference to congestion.
There are several acupuncture points that are helpful for combating allergies.
Here at Tiny Needles there is an acupuncture protocol that often shows up when addressing sinus congestion that we refer to as "ShenHawk". It is a combination of the points Du20, Du 23, and Yin Tang. Du20 is a point at the top of the head, Du23 is about an inch behind the frontal hairline, and Yin Tang is located at the third eye area, just above the bridge of the nose.
The "Shen" part of the name stands for mind or spirit. That is because although these points are helpful for clearing the sinus passages, they have the double function of helping to relax the mind or calm the spirit. The "Hawk" part is a cheeky reference to the word Mohawk, as that is what someone thought the points looked like when inserted together.
Our bodies are incredible at mending themselves, and sometimes they just need more support to do that job. Acupuncture is wonderful for getting the body into its "rest and digest" mode (the parasympathetic nervous state) and away from "fight or flight" (the sympathetic nervous state), so that it can have the strength it needs to work on repair.
In addition to acupuncture, using herbs and diet can be powerful aids for overcoming allergies.
Herbs prescribed for any kind of phlegm congestion will typically be bitter in nature, as the bitter flavor helps to break up or resolve damp. We carry a few phlegm-resolving herbal formulas here at the clinic, with two specifically geared towards targeting the sinuses: Bi Yan Pian (sounds like Bee YAWN Pee-AWN) and Pe Min Kan Wan (Pey Min KAHN WAHN) Herbs may also be geared towards promoting better digestion, as sluggish digestion can also lead to the development of dampness.
In order to speed up the recovery from damp conditions (and, incidentally, support better digestion), Chinese medicine has some specific dietary suggestions. It is recommended to avoid ice water and cold-nature foods (things like fish, raw fruit and raw vegetables) that slow down and hamper the digestive fire, as well as foods that are considered damp in nature according to TCM, such as sugar, dairy and alcohol.
Here is a simple nutritional tip to try at home. Dried tangerine peel is a common ingredient used in phelgm-resolving Chinese herbal formulas. Take some fresh tangerine or mandarin peel at home and keep it in a glass of (room temperature) drinking water (just refill throughout the day) as a gentle support for fighting dampness in your system.
Spring is often a good time of year for Liver detoxes. The weather is warmer. Our bodies, just like our minds and homes, do well with a cleansing of consumption. With the better weather it is easier to get outside, be active and shed some of the insulation that we may have built with warmer, nourishing, heavier foods to protect ourselves against the cold of winter.
Chinese Medicine is about being in tune with the outer world, connected to nature, moving together with the seasons. In fact, much of the philosophy that guides the principles of the medicine is rooted in how observations of nature play out in similar ways in our bodies.
Liver Qi Stagnation is a term you may hear when visiting an acupuncturist's office. This is a very common manifestation and is essentially Chinese Medicine speak for the presence of stress symptoms. When we see Liver Qi Stagnation we may notice a dusky colored tongue, a pulse that feels tense, muscles that are tight, expressions of frustration or anger, an inability to move forward on something or trouble with decision-making.
Foods and lifestyle can stagnate liver qi. Foods that are damp in nature, such as dairy, alcohol or excessively sweet foods can be hard for the liver's energies to process.
Being sedentary for long periods of time will also stagnate liver qi. Our bodies are designed for consistent, steady movement at a moderate pace. Modern lifestyles don't always allow for this, so if you work at a desk job, parceling up tasks into 50 or 90-minute blocks with 10-20 minute breaks in between for some light movement can be a good way to remain productive and keep your liver qi flowing.
A walk out in nature is also a good remedy (just remember to keep a scarf around your neck to protect against that Spring Wind!), and, of course, acupuncture. Acupuncture helps keep the qi in our meridians buzzing and moving freely, it can energize our thinking, inspiring us to follow through on plans that we make, support healthy circulation and stimulate our nerves towards connectivity. Even a brief 20 minutes with needles can do wonders.
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Tiny Needles is an oasis for healing in the center of San Francisco.. We are located in a Victorian built in 1900 in Japantown.
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