Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Seasonal Allergies: Why we feel the way we do

If you're like me (Caroline) this is the time of year when your nose starts running and itching. Why is this so? There are several players in the drama. Let me introduce them to you:

The Spleen For Chinese medicine, the Spleen is the main organ of digestion in the body. It takes the food that you eat and makes it into Qi or vital energy for your body needs to run away from a tiger, solve an engineering problem, or heal an injury. If your Spleen is underperforming, you may feel tired after eating, have gas and bloating, little appetite, and loose stools. When the Spleen is underperforming it creates what we call “Dampness”. In the case of allergies this dampness manifests as constant post-nasal drip, congested sinuses, and a feeling of “stuckness” in the throat. 

The Lung is responsible for taking the air that you breathe and making it into clear Qi to be used by the body. Before Qi is ready to be used in the body, the Qi processed by the Lungs and the Qi made by the Spleen must come together. The Spleen sends it’s Qi up to the Lungs where they combine and are distributed throughout the body. The Spleen sends up whatever it has, including dampness and phlegm. There’s an old saying in Chinese Medicine: “The Spleen makes phlegm and the Lung stores it”. This is where all the congestion in the sinuses and bronchi come from whether it be a cold, allergies or asthma. 

Wind According to Western Medicine, the culprit for seasonal allergies is pollen. According to Chinese Medicine, the culprit for allergies is Wind. This medicine was created thousands of years ago and as such, the ancient Chinese looked to their natural environment for clues how the outer order of things could reflect the inner order of the human body. Using this paradigm, Wind in the body is anything that mimics wind in the outside world, moving erratically or suddenly. When you think about it, Wind does stir up the pollen quite a bit. When the Lung Qi is weak, the Wind enters and you get the sniffles and sneezes.

The Liver Speaking of sneezing and itching, this brings up the next player in our Perfect Storm: the Liver. Spring is the “season” for the Liver. Positive Liver energy moves our Qi around smoothly, provides creativity and productivity. When the Liver Qi is stagnated it can no longer move smoothly. When the Liver Qi moves erratically, we get symptoms of itching and sneezing. 

So to wrap up, poor quality foods (especially raw food, sugar, wheat and dairy) and Spleen hypofunction lead to poor quality Qi and dampness. The Spleen sends Qi and dampness upward to the Lung to distribute throughout the body (snot). Poor quality Lung Qi, open pores, and Lung hypofunction lead to EPIs and wind invading. The erratic movement of Liver Qi causes itching, sneezing and watery eyes. 

How to stay healthy during Allergy Season:

  1. Get regular acupuncture! Especially before allergy season begins. Acupuncture helps to balance the body’s systems functioning at top capacity. Acupuncture helps to reduce stress, improve digestion, aid sleep and boost the Lung Qi. By staying in balance, you are less likely to get out of balance and suffer from allergies. 
  2. Start a constitutional Chinese herbal formula. If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you should probably be on a constitutional formula of Chinese herbs that fits your individual pattern. 
  3. Avoid the Wind Stay out of the wind if you can. If you can’t stay out of the wind wear a hat or scarf to avoid having Wind enter. 
  4. Adopt a positive mental attitude. I believe you create your own reality to some extent. If you believe that every time May comes around, you will be miserable, you most likely will. If you believe you’re going to stay healthy, you stand a better chance of doing so. 
  5. Limit Stress. Stress and negative emotions have a stagnating effect on the flow of Qi in the body. Anger causes the Qi to move erratically. A great way to both reduce stress, calm anger and move Qi is to engage in regular exercise! ______________________________________________________________

Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette 
at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding 
scale of $25-$55. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is 
fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes 
an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed 
Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of 
health issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, 
fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, pain, and many other health concerns.

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