By John Scott, DOM
In this article on treating patients with sinus allergies with Chinese Medicine I would like to focus on treating root causes. Quite often when treating sinus allergies the immediate focus is on symptoms which are really considered a branch treatment. In Chinese medicine we don’t treat the allergen; we treat the weak or the system that is out of balance. Since in Chinese medicine there are no isolated systems we see different systems involved in this particular pattern of disharmony.
Allergies represent an attempt by the body to enclose harmful foreign substances. Stress is an important factor with allergies. When an individual is under increased stress they are more likely to be more reactive in general.
Once this foreign substance elicits an allergic response, such as itching, swelling or sneezing, it is there after deemed an allergen. An allergen can be anything that triggers an allergic reaction. Foods pollen mold chemical family member, a spouse. Of course certain substances can be more likely than others to be reactive. Juniper, cedar, chamisa and certain damp foods like wheat and dairy have large hard to assimilate proteins which can cause more irritation that other substances. Desert and dry weather pollens tend to be more irritating because they have adapted to be stickier and resistant in order to survive without water.
Usually, the systems that I see that are the most often out of balance are usually relating to the liver/kidney systems. There are two primary patterns that I see with environmental allergies; stress is a factor in both of these presentations.
Wind Cold Presentation
This type of allergic presentation is characterized by clear copious nasal drainage. There may also be sneezing, sniffling, post nasal drip, fatigue, feeling chilled, weak low back, and low back pain. There may be psychologic issues around safety. This will be caused by adrenal exhaustion, and kidney yang or qi deficiency.
In these cases the tongue will be pale, maybe swollen, while the pulse will be weak and or deep especially in the deep, third position on the right wrist.
Herbal treatment: Xanthium & Magnolia Formula to al
To address the allergic symptoms. Nourish Essence Formula is a good formula to work on the causes of the allergies; It has a number of astringent herbs that help to dry up excessive fluids as well as supporting the kidneys and the adrenal glands. The Essential Yang Formula is an excellent formula for supporting the kidney yang. Other Chinese formulas that support kidney qi and yang are: Ba Wei Di Huang Wan and You Gui Wan.
Ear Acupuncture Points: Suprarenal gland, kidney, endocrine, lung, inner nose
Acupuncture points: Fuliu (Kid 7), Zusanli (St 36), Hegu (Li 4), Lieque (Lu7), additional point possibilities: Shangjuxu (St. 37), Shanglian (Li 9), Shousanli (Li10), Shenshu (Ub 23), Fengmen (Ub 12), Feishu (Ub 13), Gaohuangshu (Ub 43)
Moxabustion: Mingmen (Du 4), Shenshu (Ub 23), Qihai (Ren 6), Guanyuan (Ren 4)
Wind Heat Presentation
This type of presentation is characterized by inflammation and heat symptoms. This is usually described as wind heat or heat excess. There patient will have sinus congestion and or inflammation, headaches, burning eyes. The most common root cause of this is an imbalance in the liver and or gall bladder meridians, as well as heat in the lung meridian. Treating the liver and gall bladder channels will provide a treatment that will be more effective that just addressing the symptoms. This will greatly assist the body in coping and clearing the inflammatory response to the environmental irritants like pollen.
The tongue will be red and there may be scalloped edges, there may also be a yellow coat. In addition the pulse will be tight and maybe rapid or wiry.
Herbal Treatment: The formula of choice for symptom relief is Jade Screen & Xanthium Formula. Xanthium Nasal Formula is appropriate when the heat and inflammatory symptoms are more severe. This formula can be used during the season that the patient has allergic problems or just when symptoms arise or nearly constantly. I find it is effective to use a formula to address the constitutional imbalances that the patient is presenting. Usually the formulas that I recommend are Free and Easy Wanderer Plus or Bupluerum and Tang Kuei Formula. Free and Easy Wanderer Plus is also a very good formula for chemical sensitivities.
Ear Acupuncture Points: Liver, kidney, endocrine, lung, inner nose
Acupuncture points: Zhaohai (Kid 6), Zusanli (St 36), Hegu (Li 4), Lieque (Lu7), Taichong (Liv 3), Xingjian (Liv 2), Extra points Yintang, Pitung, Zanzhu (Ub 2) Chai Pai, additional point possibilities: , Fengmen (Ub 12), Feishu (Ub 13), Gaohuangshu (Ub 43), Ganshu (Ub 18), Danshu (Ub 19)
Zhaohai (Kid 6) and Lieque (Lu 7) used if combination for sinus congestion, inflammation, headaches and burning eyes. Use Zhaohai first followed by Lieque leave in for about an hour then remove and replace in opposite order for five minutes. Use of gold needle for this treatment increases the effectiveness.
There can of course be other pattern presentations a patient may possess besides these 2 basic patterns. Please consider other constitutional factors and possibilities. Just keep in mind that you will get fantastic results and relief with patients with sinus allergies when you support the constitution and treat the root in addition to the branch symptoms.