Seasonal allergies: An irritating time of year

Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Spring has sprung, and with it a host of irritants in the air as a result! One in six Americans suffer from allergies, and the incidence of allergy-driven asthma has doubled since 1980. It is estimated that 35 million Americans suffer from environmental allergies.

An allergic reaction occurs when a substance, otherwise harmless, when coming in contact with the mucus membranes stimulate an improper, over-reactive response. These substances can be environmental (such as pollens, weeds, flowers, dust or mold), chemical based (such as plastics, formaldehydes, metals, perfumes, room deodorizers), or ingested substances (including foods, vitamins, medications, drinks), etc. Symptoms can range from runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, hives and other rashes, mood changes (especially anger, irritability, depression), asthma, sleeplessness and various pains. Many health problems Americans face are undiagnosed allergic reactions.

Symptomatic treatment is not hard to find. Many are content with over the counter medications, while many prefer the many remedies that don't involve drugs. According to Mary Hardy, M.D., Director of Integrative Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, "Using nature-based products can be a very useful way to handle mild allergies and a useful adjunct for more significant allergies, and there are many types of treatments you can safely try." She goes on to mention some well researched herbs that have shown to be helpful.

James Dillard, M.D., Clinical Advisor to Columbia University's Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons has also found combinations of herbs and herbal substances to be helpful in treating allergies.

In addition to herbs, Dr. Dillard recommends acupuncture for treating allergies. He says "Acupuncture can be particularly useful if you are suffering from multiple allergies, since it works to quiet the areas of the immune system that are overstimulated by exposure to multiple irritating factors."

According to an article in WebMD, "In addition to whatever natural treatments you try on your own, you may also find significant relief visiting a practitioner of the ancient Chinese medical practice known as acupuncture. Based on the idea that stimulating points outside the body can change or initiate reactions inside, in this case treatment is thought to affect the immune system, where allergic reactions begin.

In a small but significant study of 26 hay fever patients published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, acupuncture reduced symptoms in all 26 - without side effects. A second study of some 72 people totally eliminated symptoms in more than half, with just two treatments." Typically, more than two treatments are required, but the success rate, especially with the addition of herbal medicine and dietary modifications is impressive.

There are many options for those interested in resolving allergies naturally. This does NOT have to be an irritating time of year! Learn more by attending our upcoming webinar "How to Be Absolutely Allergy and Asthma Free" from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 6. Fee: $5. RSVP: (208) 765-1994.

Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with more than 32 years of experience. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d'Alene clinic. Visit Carling's website at to learn more about Carling, view a list of upcoming health classes and read other informative articles. Carling can be reached at (208) 765-1994 and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.

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