Allergies - A Holistic Point of View
Updated: Oct 31
Allergies challenge our "immune system," known as "Wei Qi" in Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine. So as the trees shed their leaves in the Fall, or when pollens from ragweed and grasses cause sneezing, wheezing and general discomfort - our immune systems are working harder.
Another challenge to our immune systems are allergens like molds - which are also prevalent in the Fall, as wet leaves and dampness from cooler air and moisture tend to produce moldy surfaces.
Best strategies to prevent such allergens like mold and pollen are to cover your face and hands outside (especially on windy days), clear any standing water you notice around your home or yard, and leave your shoes at the door when you enter the house, as certain pathogens can be tracked into the house on the soles of your shoes.
If you’ve been exercising or working outside, take a shower to clear off pollen or other allergens that may be stuck to your skin or hair, and consider using a mask if doing yard work. Hope you haven't thrown away your masks!!
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, lifestyle and nutrition are some of the first things we discuss with patients experiencing immune system imbalances like allergies or asthma. Most times the root cause of allergic reactions lays in how conscientiously we choose to nourish ourselves, and how well our bodies recover from the demands of our lives during rest and sleep periods. Here are a few easy tips that can really help:
SLEEP: Getting enough quality sleep cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to fighting off allergies. 6-8 hours of solid sleep where you awaken feeling refreshed in the morning, is a strong defense against pathogens - whether allergy-based, bacterial or viral.
Pets: Though it may be emotionally challenging (we all love snuggling with our fur babies), if you have allergies, it probably best to keep pets out of the bedroom. Their dander can aggravate already inflamed mucous membranes. For severe allergy sufferers - change your sheets at least once or twice a week and take a shower before bed . . . maybe even use an air purifier in the room where you sleep. STRESS: The past few years have certainly been challenging for most of us, and treating patients for the tolls of stress has been our top priority. When the body is in "fight or flight" mode, it tends to eventually wear down the immune system, and this invites disease. Now more than ever, it's important to take time to breathe . . . to pause your world, close your eyes and find your center. Allow yourselves to take a moment . . .
FOOD CHOICES: Consider some of these food recommendations to help bolster your immune system and combat Fall allergens.
Reduce or eliminate wheat products if you find you are sensitive to them (loose stools, itchy eyes, dry, nasal congestion).
Sugar also creates inflammation, so avoid the overconsumption of sugar and foods/drinks that turn into sugar upon consumption (certain yogurts, instant oatmeal, energy drinks), as they will almost always weaken the immune system.
Eat foods high in carotenoids like
pumpkin and carrots, broccoli and leafy greens like kale and collard greens. They are thought to ease allergic symptoms via the Vitamin A they contain.
Pineapple (in small doses): The enzyme bromelain, found in pineapple, is also a powerful ally against pollen as it calms the swelling and irritation that causes a runny nose and itchy eyes.
Eat and cook with red apples, red onions, broccoli and garlic. Each contains a healthy dose of vitamin C. As well, a fairly significant dose of the flavonoid quercetin is present in each of these healthy foods. It will help stabilize cells that release histamine in the body, having an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect, strongly bolstering your immune system.
Warming foods are essential in the Fall. As the temperature starts to drop . . . it's time for soups, soups, soups and more soups! Why not be proactive and keep our systems warm in advance?!!
Did you know that the salt in a Chicken Noodle soup helps relieve sore throat pain (the same principle behind gargling warm salt water). The heat helps clear nasal congestion by increasing mucus flow, which helps the body get rid of the cold virus, and relieve pain and sinus pressure.
If you need help bolstering your immune system or with the symptoms of allergies - we're here to help guide you towards balance. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, lifestyle recommendations and therapeutic bodywork will serve you much more holistically than pharmaceutical decongestants, allergy medicine and sleep aids.
An hour of self-care will leave you relaxed and rejuvenated - moving you towards a healthier balance, and preparing you to take on the challenges in your everyday.
Phil Veneziano, M.S, L.Ac.
Seven Point Wellness is an Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic located at 187 Millburn Ave., Suite #101 in Millburn, NJ, in the Trader Joe / CVS Business Complex.
We are an easy drive from Maplewood, South Orange, Short Hills, Livingston and most cities in Union, Morris and Essex County, NJ.
We are also an easy walk from the New Jersey Transit via bus or train.
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