It’s that wonderful time of year when the trees are all fresh bright green. The wildflowers are in bloom and the grass is starting to grow. However, people all over the country are starting to sneeze, with runny noses and itchy, watering eyes… yes – it’s hay fever season!
So, what exactly is hay fever?
Its medical name is allergic rhinitis. It occurs when there is a hypersensitivity to foreign proteins. In the case of hay fever, pollen, although people can also have a similar reaction to things like animal dander and dust mites.
This hypersensitivity causes misery with many of the following symptoms:
- acute inflammation of mucosa in the nose and mouth
- conjunctiva in the eyes
- itchy mouth and eyes
Many people manage their hay fever symptoms with antihistamines and/or corticosteroids, which is fine if that works well for you, but there is an increasing interest in managing this in a more natural way, avoiding possible side effects of medications.
The evidence is clear
This is where acupuncture can help.
A detailed review of scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture found there is strong evidence for acupuncture as a treatment for allergic rhinitis. (1)
This means that you can be confident that having acupuncture for hay fever with a professional acupuncturist should help to relieve your symptoms.
The roots and the branches
Chinese Medicine theory sees the human body from a different perspective to Western Biomedicine. When treating a condition like hay fever, we look for the immediate cause of the condition – the Biao (branches).
In the case of hay fever, this is usually an external pathogenic invasion, of Wind Heat or Wind Cold (depending on the individual person’s symptoms).
Wind is a Yang pathogen, so it moves upward and outward, affecting the surface of the body, the head, the chest and the back. Wind related conditions start rapidly and the symptoms move around.
We also take things one step further. Rather than just treating the presenting symptoms, an acupuncturist will look for the Ben (roots); the underlying reason for the person to be susceptible to a condition.
The fact that an external pathogen is able to “invade” the body suggests there may be some form of underlying weakness. We refer to this as a ‘deficiency’.
In the case of hay fever, it is often that the Wei Qi (which roughly translates as defensive energy) is weakened by a variety of different disharmonies.
A professional acupuncturist would therefore take a detailed case history at your first treatment in order to diagnose any such disharmonies and choose acupuncture points to address them.
Using Acupressure for hay fever yourself
The most effective approach is to start acupuncture treatment before the onset of the hay fever season. Underlying constitutional disharmonies can then be addressed to help the body protect itself from the invasion of pathogenic factors.
Then, during the hay fever season, points would also be selected to help to address any acute symptoms being experienced.
- Use acupressure on points like Hegu LI4 (in the soft area between the thumb and forefinger on the back of the hand)
- Ying Xiang LI20 (in the naso-labial groove, next to ala nasi).
- Zanzhu Bl2 (small groove in the bone at the medial end of the eyebrows) to help to relieve symptoms during an acute attack.
If you would like to know more about treating yourself with acupressure, or having a professional acupuncture treatment for hay fever or any other condition, Jill always looks forward to helping.
About the author
Jill Marks is a fully qualified traditional acupuncturist with 7 years’ experience in clinical practice. She works at the Northern Integrative Health Practice in Sacriston and runs her own practice in Barnard Castle. She also practices other related modalities including cupping, moxibustion and Gus Sha. Jill is currently completing a diploma in clinical reflexology.
This article was originally published in the Town & County magazine for County Durham. Download Treating Hay Fever with Traditional Acupuncture in PDF format.
(1) McDonald J, Janz S, 2017. ‘The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review’ Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association.
Deadman P. 1991 ‘The Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis by Acupuncture’ in Journal of Chinese Medicine 36, p25 – 27.
Wang J, Robertson J D. 2008 ‘Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine’. Eastland Press, Seattle.
Waugh A., Grant A. 2010 ‘Ross and Wilson Anatomy and Physiology in Health and Illness’, 11 ed. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. Edinburgh.
Yifang Zhang 1999 ‘Hay Fever Treatment by Acupuncture’ in Journal of Chinese Medicine 61, p20-24.