By Katie Kuhn
This article was originally published in April 2017.
Do seasonal allergies or asthma have you fearing every spring? Acupuncture can help! Nasal congestion, itchy eyes, earaches, and wheezing can make you miserable. Allergy shots can be costly and time-consuming, decongestants can leave you drowsy. Acupuncture is safe and effective, without all the side effects of medication. Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin, single-use needles into points around the body. Acupuncture works by getting to the root cause of allergies.
First, we focus on strengthening the immune system. Stress, not enough sleep and poor diets all weaken our immune system. Acupuncture can help modulate our immune system by increasing lymphocytes, or cells that fight infection. Acupuncture also reduces stress and improves sleep.
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Second, we reduce histamine and inflammation, the triggers for allergies. Acupuncture can affect our cytokines or the chemical messenger system throughout our body. According to a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy, acupuncture significantly lowered the level of IgE compared to a control group. IgE is an antibody that causes your body to overreact when exposed to an allergen, such as pollen or mold. Acupuncture was also found to increase levels of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine that blocks the production of histamine.
Acupuncture can open airways and nasal passages. The same mechanism that causes allergies also causes asthma (and some skin conditions), so we take a united approach in treatment. Patients with allergic rhinitis have double the innervation in the lining of the nasal passage than the regular population, which leads to more blood vessels. Extra nerves and extra blood means more opportunity for allergic sensitivity. Acupuncture has also been shown to increase nasal volume which decreases nasal congestion.
Food can have a significant impact on allergies. The most common trigger is dairy, followed by corn, soy, and sugar. Dietary therapy focuses on using different flavors and cooking preparations to influence balance in the body.
Most patients are able to eliminate or reduce their dependence on allergy medication. Most patients will notice immediate draining of sinus congestion. Regular treatment can cause remission of asthma and allergies. Acupuncture should be part of an integrative approach to health, including diet, exercise, and emotional support. If you are interested in learning more about acupuncture, contact Katie Kuhn at Huron Point Acupuncture or find a Board Certified acupuncturist at NCCAOM.org/find-a-provider-directory.
Katie Kuhn is an acupuncturist and owner of Huron Point Acupuncture in Port Huron, Michigan. She is board certified (NCCAOM) in Oriental Medicine and has Masters Degrees’ from New York Chiropractic College. She is a member of the Blue Water Chamber, the Young Professionals and the Michigan Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAAOM). She enjoys swimming, paddle boarding, and spending time with her husband Brian (Frey) and son Brody.