To minimise or prevent your allergy symptoms, acupuncture can help.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers seasonal allergies, as well as asthma and sinusitis, as respiratory diseases that can be helped effectively with acupuncture. 

An allergy is an excessive reaction by the immune system to a substance that is normally harmless. Such a substance is called an "allergen". The primary allergens are pollen, ragweed, dust, mites, pet hair, and certain chemical products.

Predisposing factors

Allergies are on the rise in Canada, partly due to contact with allergens and an increase in air pollution. However, the role of poor lifestyle habits (stress, fatigue, dietary-vitamin deficiencies, lack of exercise, etc.) and their effects on the immune system should not be discounted.


Allergies are often seasonal, but can also be present year round. While they affect different people in different ways, the typical symptoms include:
          -  itchy and/or red eyes
          -  itchy palate
          -  itchy and runny nose
          -  sneezing and nasal congestion (allergic rhinitis)
          -  difficulty breathing
These symptoms may be accompanied by headache, sinusitis, or a rash. In some cases, these will be the only signs of the allergy.



Studies now agree that acupuncture has an impact on the nervous and immune system.
Today modern science recognizes that acupuncture acts on the nervous and immune systems by promoting regulatory mechanisms and the transport of substances that can act on the inflammatory, histamine and immune response (IgE) (ref#1, 2 & 3). In 2015, the Otorhinolaryngology Head Neck Surgery Journal mentioned acupuncture as a recommendation of a valid non-pharmacological treatment for allergic rhinitis (ref#4, 5) 

(1) McDonald JL, Smith PK, Smith CA, Changli Xue C, Golianu B, Cripps AW. Effect of acupuncture on house dust mite specific IgE, substance P, and symptoms in persistent allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Jun;116(6):497-505.
(2) Li YM, Zhuang LX, Lai XS, Jiang GH. [Effects of electroacupuncture on plasma vasoactive intestinal peptide and substance P in perennial allergic rhinitis patients]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2007 Apr;32(2):136-8.
(3) McDonald JL, Cripps AW, Smith PK, Smith CA, Xue CC, Golianu B. The anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture and their relevance to allergic rhinitis: a narrative review and proposed model. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:591796.
(4) Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, Schwartz SR, Baroody FM, Bonner JR, et al. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Feb;152(1 Suppl):S1-43.
(5) Feng S, Han M, Fan Y, Yang G, Liao Z, Liao W, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(1):57-62.

In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) an allergic reaction is a manifestation of the body's difficulty to adjust to its environment. We therefore treat the allergic person, not the allergies. According to the concept of the organ system paradigm and their functions in TCM, weaknesses of the "System of the Lung"(*) or "Systeme of the Liver"(*) favors these allergic reactions.

The "System of the Lung"(*) is the first organ to come into contact with allergens. In a weakened state, it will be vulnerable to these substances. The "System of the Liver"(*) meanwhile helps the body adapt to its environment. If compromised an exaggerated response to allergens will occur and the appearance of the symptoms described above.

Other "Systems"(*) may also influence the severity and chronicity of the symptoms. After assessment, your acupuncturist you will be able to explain the clinical patterns involved according to TCM principles). The vitality of the "System of the Spleen"(*) and of "the Kidney"(*) are also very important for they directly influence the "Lung and Liver Systems"(*) and may need to be treated accordingly. 

How does acupuncture help?

By stimulating the energy of the "Lung" and by regulating the "Liver" the acupuncture treatment aims to calm the exaggerrated response to the allergens. When symptoms are not so present, the treatment will aim to balance and strengthen the identified TCM disharmonies that contribute to the problematic. Acupuncture treatments for allergies have therefore a preventative and therapeutic aspect. It is recommended that patients consult before the season or onset of symptoms to obtain better results.

Strategy of care:

Acute period: treatments are focused on minimizing the symptoms as much as possible
Prevention period: treatments are focused on strengthening the body and treating underlying and influencing disharmonies.

To learn more...
Contact an acupuncturist member of the Association of Acupuncturists of Québec.

(*) implies the Traditional Chinese Medicine terminology. It does not represent solely the organ but a complex system. For example The System of the Lung implies a much larger concept than the lungs themselves. It involves the respiratory system, the skin, the mucus membrane etc. To know more about the TCM terminology, contact an acupuncturist.


©Association des acupuncteurs du Québec - legal notes

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