Spring has arrived. For some it's a time when seasonal allergies come to the surface causing itchy eyes, runny noses and headaches. At this time of year people with seasonal allergies usually reach for antihistamines and various over the counter remedies. But there is another way to treat this irritating condition without drugs. Acupuncture can be used as a natural alternative to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. In a study, published in Feb19 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, scientists recruited 422 people with seasonal allergies and assigned them into three groups. One group received 12 acupuncture sessions over 8 weeks. Another was given sham acupuncture and the third group no treatment at all. Each group also had access to an antihistamine. After eight weeks, the acupuncture group had a greater improvement in their symptoms, compared to the other groups. It was also noted that the acupuncture group used the antihistamine less frequently.
If acupuncture is not for you consider trying acupressure. There are acupoints that can be used for self help by applying gentle pressure. One point in particular Large Intestine 4, commonly used by acupuncturists to treat many conditions such as headache, runny nose, constipation, sinusitis, rhinitis and toothache.
To locate this point feel around the fleshy area between the index finger and thumb. When you feel the tender area that's the point you want to apply pressure to. Feel for tenderness at the point on both hands, if one side feels more tender focus more on the tender side. Apply pressure for about 30 seconds and release, repeat a few times. Another point to help during allergy season is Large Intestine 20. I use this point in clinic and find that once the needles are inserted patients can feel their sinuses draining.
You can work on this point without needles! Feel for a slight indentation either side of the nostrils and apply firm upward pressure directed towards the eyes. Apply pressure for about 30 seconds and release, repeat a few times. You can try these self help acupressure treatments throughout the day. Although not the same as an acupuncture treatment these exercises will offer some temporary relief of symptoms. In terms of acupuncture allergies are seen as an underlying imbalance. Acupuncture aims to bring the body back into balance with a treatment that is specific to your needs.Your acupuncturist will tailor a treatment plan according to your symptoms. So, now is the time to "spring" into action and tackle those symptoms before they take hold. Point location images from A Manual of Acupuncture.