Do not loose hope however as Chinese medicine may be able to offer you an alternative way to stay healthy this allergy season.
Well in Chinese Medicine in order to stay healthy one must live in tune with the seasons, and in order to do that one must understand the movement of qi (energy) in the universe at that time and how it may affect our health if we do not move in tune with it. Spring is a time of growth and change, as flowers start to flourish, and blossom appears on the trees. This growth and change requires a lot of Yang energy (moving energy), which is reflected in the climate/ season with a lot of windy weather at this time of year.
Chinese Medicine (CM) views hay fever as an invasion of wind, (the climatic factor associated with spring), into the nose and lungs. Wind in CM disrupts the normal processes of the body leading to inflammation, sneezing, watering eyes and sinusitis. This can be a sign of a weakened immune system often as a result of poor diet, overwork, stress, and lack of sleep or exercise. All of these factors in TCM lead to increased levels of inflammation in the body, primarily affecting the digestion, which in turn may inhibit the body's ability to repair and protect itself against disease.
Now is a good time therefore, to start treatment or book in for some Acupuncture to get your immune system back into balance. Acupuncture has been shown to strengthen immunity and reduce inflammation in the body. It can be used during an acute attack to alleviate symptoms, as well as prior to the hay fever season to address the underlying cause. And as a wise teacher of mine once said
"Acupuncture is about keeping you healthy whatever life and nature throws at you, and as such one should develop a life-long relationship with acupuncture to stay healthy for life."
In addition there are some simple things you can do to help yourself:
1. Get enough sleep. 8-10 hours per night during the winter months as this is when the body repairs and recuperates ready for spring.
2. Take up Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Static and moving meditations that are very revered in China for their ability to regulate the immune system.
3. Diet is very important in TCM. Include foods that strengthen the immune and digestive systems for example, chestnuts, walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds, nettle tea, and artichoke leaf. Astragalus, licorice, and ginseng help to reduce the release of histamine and decrease inflammation; garlic is a great decongestant and anti-histamine and ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds (gingerols) which inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines. With the new regulations for herbal medicine now in force you will need to see a qualified practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine to have these herbs prescribed. Increasing your food intake of those that are still readily available is also very useful.
4. Reduce consumption of inflammation and mucus producing foods. In TCM this includes, anything excessively sweet, processed, greasy or fatty, chilled or frozen, excessive consumption of raw vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, salt, vinegar, dairy products, and alcohol.
5. Practice good breathing techniques. This will strengthen the energy of your lungs and help prevent infection.
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