Are you suffering from hayfever and sinusitis? Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine may be able to help you
Runny nose, congested and hard to breathe, sneezing, sinus headaches?
Struggling to focus through a fog of mucus?
Miserable and exhausted by it all?
If this is you then you are not alone. In fact 1 in 5 Australians suffer from allergic rhinitis or hayfever.
While not life-threatening, it can significantly impact your quality of life and ability to enjoy being outdoors or work effectively.
Conventional treatment consists of managing symptoms with antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays, eye drops and avoiding exposure to any known environmental irritants. While this is enough for some people, others look for different options.
Good news – Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may be helpful for hayfever and sinusitis!
Janet* sought help with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine at the Wholistic Medical Centre. She had suffered from chronic hayfever and sinus congestion for over 20 years. She would wake up sneezing every morning and then suffer from nasal congestion, itchy eyes and a constant stream of mucus all day long from her nose and draining down the back of her throat. She was never far away from a tissue and had to breathe through her mouth a lot of the time. She relied on nasal sprays and antihistamines twice each day but they gave her only a minimal amount of relief.
Hayfever, also known as allergic rhinitis, can be triggered by irritants such as pollens and grasses. Unfortunately for Janet, she was allergic to many different airborne irritants including dust, pollens, grasses and animal dander. Thus she experienced her symptoms all year round. She felt run down and exhausted by constant sinus congestion causing headaches, blowing her nose and trying to manage the mucus and inflammation in her upper airways with medication that made her feel even worse.
Risk factors for hayfever and allergic rhinitis
It is well known that allergic diseases are influenced by genetic predisposition and environmental exposure.
Several members of Janet’s family had hayfever or asthma, making her a likely candidate for this condition. She grew up on a farm so had ample exposure to airborne irritants as a child but only developed hayfever in her 20’s.
While Janet felt that she couldn’t alter these genetic factors and her predisposition to hayfever, she found that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine could certainly help with these predispositions and thus influence how strongly she reacted. Studies have shown that acupuncture is a safe and effective option for managing symptoms of hayfever and improving quality of life (1, 2).
How does Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine help hayfever and sinusitis?
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a holistic form of medicine which looks at the whole picture. After careful consultation with Janet about her hayfever and sinus symptoms, her health history, diet and lifestyle she began a course of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines (3). These were individually formulated for her. She was advised to use a saline nasal rinse rather than a medicated spray to help soothe the inflamed membranes in her airways.
This acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine protocol was designed to reduce the inflammation, drain the accumulation of mucus in her airways and regulate her immune system which was over-reacting to so many environmental factors.
Within a week she was experiencing significant relief – much less mucus and congestion, and she was able to breathe through her nose some of the time. Within a few more weeks she had stopped taking her daily antihistamines, had much more energy and was starting to enjoy her sense of smell again for the first time in many years!
Janet continued to treat her hayfever and sinusitis with acupuncture and Chinese herbs for a couple of months. The dose of her Chinese herbs was gradually reduced as her symptoms continued to improve and her body became less reactive and more resilient to the environmental factors that had irritated her airways for so long. She has maintenance acupuncture treatments once a month and has been mostly symptom free for the last 6 months, enjoying breathing freely in all seasons.
This is an individual case study for educational purposes. Results obtained by one person does not mean the same can be expected by another. Each person has different life experiences and circumstances which will influence responses.
- Xue, C.C. et. Al. Oct 2015. Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial: Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Volume 115, Issue 4, , Pages 317–324. http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206%2815%2900342-7/abstract. Concluded that acupuncture treatment is a safe and effective option for clinical management of SAR in the Melbourne area for patients’ symptom relief and QoL improvement.
- Brinkhaus B. et al. 2004. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Allergy Sep; 59(9):953-60 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15291903. Concluded that results of this study suggest that traditional Chinese therapy may be an efficacious and safe treatment option for patients with seasonal AR.
- Hauswald B., and Yarin Y. 2014. Acupuncture in Allergic Rhinitis, A mini review. Allergo J Int. 2014; 23(4): 115–119 Concluded that the efficacy of acupuncture in allergic rhinitis and other allergic diseases, such as asthma or allergic eczema, appears to be due to the cytokine profile regulation of Th1/Th2 cells and particularly in the expression of IL-10, IL-2 and IFN-γ. However, further studies are necessary in order to confirm this hypothesis. The effects of acupuncture have already been demonstrated in several clinical studies. For conclusive proof, at present large multicenter, controlled studies are under way to evaluate the role of acupuncture as complementary therapy of allergic rhinitis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479426/