Sneezing, stuffy nose, swollen eyes, itchy throat, itchy nose and itchy eyes. With the beautiful weather and start of spring comes the pollen, and for some, the start of a nightmare season. Seasonal allergies are afflicting us more than ever before and experts say that in the UK more than one in four are suffering from hay fever, compared to one in eight in the early eighties. There are many theories as to why this is the case but it is important that preventative measures are taken and one finds an appropriate treatment plan.
Why Allergies Have Become Common Today
One of the reasons being suggested is that we live today in an extra-clean environment, which making us more susceptible or sensitive to our environment, as we are in general not exposed to it. As a result, we are over-reacting to harmless substances, such as pollen, as our body’s immune system cannot distinguish between that which is harmless and that which is life threatening.
On the other hand, there are many environmental toxins we take into our body, such as toxins in the air, as well as hormones and antibiotics in our food. These chemical toxins can cause immune reactions, leading to inflammation and allergic reactions. Inflammation reacting on the mucous membrane, like for example in our gut, may change the gut flora and cause sensitivities which may be mild or severe. These reactions may also be seen on all mucous membranes leading also to hay fever and asthma.
Preventing Allergic Reactions
There are two things we take into our body to survive. Air and food/water! If there are toxins in the air, or we smoke, then this can cause an immune reaction in the body, just like if we consume food or water that has toxins within. Immune reactions cause inflammation! Once an inflammation is caused in the body, the immune system creates antibodies and every time the body is exposed to this toxin the antibodies in your immune system will recognize it and kick into action.
Important for us all is nutrition, but particularly for a developing body. Just as an adult should not, parents too should not allow children to eat large amounts of sugar, dairy products and high fat carbohydrates or proteins. Simple, organic fruits, vegetables, grains and small amounts of lean meat are the best nourish choice. Food intolerances to dairy, nuts and gluten are also becoming common today and one should be aware of the impact of these foods on the sensitive intestinal lining of a child.
Finally, let children play outside. Be clean but don’t live in a sterile environment. Being in touch with our microbial ‘old friends’ is crucial to regulating the immune system. Children should be reconnecting with the ‘right kind of dirt’. Furthermore, encouraging people to do outdoor sport can have a direct physiological effect on our immune system.
Treating Allergies with Chinese Medicine
I have my own personal experience with allergies. As a child I had allergic rhinitis as well as asthma. Due to the severity of my allergies I was on strong nasal steroids for the large part of my childhood. I was prescribed a specific drug which has now been taken off the market. I continued to suffer from my allergies and the side effects of this drug into adulthood and while I tried many different types of treatment, I suffered to no avail. It was not until I discovered acupuncture that I found hope. The first year I missed the winter prevention season and was treated symptomatically, but by the second year I was off medication and just being treated with acupuncture and herbs. By the third year, I was symptom free! As one can see it is not an overnight process, however allergies can be a life time torment and if one can have relief and eventually a cure then it is worth investing the time.
When to Start Treatment
If you are in the hay fever season, then for relief one should combine western drugs with acupuncture. You are of course only being treated symptomatically but for those of you who know the torment allergies bring, any relief is welcomed. Once the season is over, it is important to look at what you are taking into your body, in the form of air, food and drink. Take these months to make changes, then once winter approaches it is time to start the preventative treatment. Normally sessions will be every 3 weeks, increasing in regularity as spring approaches.
Take your health into your own hands and imagine enjoying being outdoors and breathing the fresh air of spring again…Symptomless!!