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Acupuncture for Melbourne’s hayfever season

Mount Dandenong and its charming hilltop villages are full of an abundance of beautiful flowers, blossoming trees – and ryegrass right now. This (particularly the ryegrass) might be why more hayfever (or allergic rhinitis) patients have been coming to my Upwey Acupuncture clinic than my inner Melbourne clinic in the last few weeks.

The Melbourne hayfever season is yet to get into full swing; the peak is October-November. So if you suffer from sneezing, itchy runny nose, irritated eyes, and coughing and wheezing on high pollen days, now is the time to take action. As well as booking a course of acupuncture, there are a few things you can try at home to feel a little better.

Wattle blossom in Upwey
Wattle blossom in Upper Ferntree Gully

Herbal medicine for hayfever

Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been traditionally used to help alleviate the symptoms of hayfever. In fact there are herbal prescriptions that are specifically designed for this purpose. Most often I prescribe herbal hayfever remedies in pill or powder form at my clinic for easy dosage when required.

How could acupuncture help?

According to the British Acupuncture Council, studies suggest that acupuncture may help to relieve pain and congestion in people with allergic rhinitis by the following methods:

  • Regulating levels of IgE and cytokines, which are mediators of the allergic reaction to extrinsic allergens (Ng 2004; Rao 2006; Roberts 2008)
  • Stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz, 1987; Han 2004; Zhao 2008; Cheng 2009)
  • Reducing inflammation by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Zijlstra 2003; Kavoussi 2007)
  • Enhancing natural killer cell activities and modulating the number and ratio of immune cell types (Kawakita 2008)
  • Increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.

Acupuncture points to try at home

There are a number of acupuncture points that I frequently use in hayfever cases. Best results are achieved with acupuncture treatment, but you can try doing some acupressure yourself at home until you can make it into the clinic. These two acupuncture points are my favourites for treating this condition. See the position in the picture below:

Yingxiang (LI20)

This point is located just beside the outside edge of your nostrils.  If you press on the area you may find that nasal congestion alleviates and discharge lessens sometimes very quickly.

Yintang (M-HN-3)

In the middle of the gap between your eyebrows. This point is good for all things to do with the nose and can be beneficial in rhinitis and sinus issues. Give it a press or a rub and see if it helps your nose and eyes when you are suffering.

Diagram showing the position of acupressure points Yingxiang and Yingtang for hayfever
The position of acupressure points Yingxiang and Yingtang for hayfever

A nourishing soup to combat hayfever

According to the laws of Traditional Chinese Medicine – as with many other disorders – allergic rhinitis is more likely to be a problem when you have low energy, low immunity, or a poor diet.

Eating nourishing and warming foods in the late winter and into spring is important for helping the body lessen the severity of hayfever symptoms.  Equally, taking rest when you need to and not pushing yourself beyond your limits helps your body help itself.

Try the recipe below. It’s full of spring goodness, including garlic and spring onions to open the sinuses:

Simple Spring Green Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 cups of water or broth

1 handful of chopped spring onion (or ¼ medium onion)

4 medium chopped potatoes

3 cups of spring greens

2 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of olive oil

Bring liquid to the boil, then add potatoes, onion and salt. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, then add spring greens and garlic, and simmer until greens are bright green. Puree and add olive oil before serving.

Photo of woman’s face by Azamat Zhanisov on Unsplash

 

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