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PREVENT

Wake up your Wei Qi and put seasonal allergies to rest

If seasonal allergies are starting to make your life miserable, it may be time to strengthen your defenses.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, problems with seasonal allergies can occur when your defensive energy, or Wei Qi, is low. Wei Qi can affect your immune function as well as your mental resilience. Strengthening your Wei Qi helps protect your body from harmful invaders.

Acupuncture is one way to help. With acupuncture and with Chinese Medicine in general, we treat the symptoms as well as the underlying cause. Sometimes acupuncture can help reduce symptoms right away and is good for the acute phase of seasonal allergies. But we can also do some underlying work to help build up the Wei Qi. Often I find if I have the opportunity to work with a person regularly over a year, by the next season, their symptoms are greatly reduced.

As symptoms improve, I recommend that patients stay in touch with their allergist or regular physician about medication use. My role isn't to replace your doctor. I'm a proponent of integrative medicine—working with your doctor so everyone is on board with the best treatment plan.

When acupuncture alone isn't enough to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, I may recommend the use of herbal preparations. There are a number of herbs commonly used for allergies, but their use should be monitored by a fully trained herbalist. As with any drug, you need to be cautious about interactions with other medications, so check with your doctor before beginning use.

Dietary changes during the allergy season may also be in order. In Chinese Medicine, foods that are spicy can help strengthen the body's energy system. Think about adding fresh ginger or black pepper to foods, and drink tea that is spiced. In addition, avoid sour foods, such as citrus. Sour foods are thought to bring things into the body more readily, and that's what you don’t want with allergies.

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