Monday, June 18, 2012

Treatment of ADD/ADHD

By John Chen, PhD, PharmD, OMD, LAc
Attention-deficit disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) are developmental conditions in which the affected person is unable to concentrate and is easily distracted, with or without accompanying hyperactivity. There must be an onset of symptoms before age 7 that causes significant social or academic impairment. The incidence of ADD/ADHD is 3 percent to 7 percent in school-age children, and 2 percent to 7 percent in adults.
The pathology of ADHD is not clear. There is speculation that certain areas of the brain related to attention are deficient in neural transmission. The neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine have been associated with ADD/ADHD. Stimulants such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Dexedrin (dextroamphetamine), are generally prescribed for treatment of ADD/ADHD. Common short-term side effects include significant insomnia, appetite suppression and weight loss, headaches, mood fluctuations and tic exacerbation in children. Long-term risks include possible growth retardation, especially with prolonged use. Furthermore, stimulants have significant abuse potential and must be carefully regulated.
Herbal Treatment And Research
According to traditional Chinese medicine, ADD/ADHD is diagnosed as liver wind rising with shen(spirit) disturbance arising from liver yin deficiency. To treat these disorders, both sedative and tonic herbs must be used together to restore normal balance in the body.
To extinguish liver wind and calm liver yang rising (manifesting in muscle twitching or restlessness),mu li (Concha ostreae), jue ming zi (Semen cassiae) and gou teng (Ramulus uncariae cum uncis) are used. These three herbs neutralize mood. Bie jia (Carapax trionycis) and gui ban (Plastrum testudinis) tonify liver yin and further assist in extinguishing liver wind. To address yin deficiency,bai shao (Radix paeoniae alba), sheng di huang (Radix rehmanniae) and mai men dong (Radix ophiopogonis) are used. Bai shao also softens the liver to relieve spasms, cramps and stiffness that may be associated with convulsion or seizure.
Mai men dong also sedates heart fire to relieve shen disturbance. Shi chang pu (Rhizoma acori) andyuan zhi (Radix polygalae) are two aromatic herbs that disperse phlegm obstructing the orifices and help restore cognitive and sensory functions. They are often used for forgetfulness and inability to concentrate. Yu jin (Radix curcumae) clears heart heat, opens orifices and promotes consciousness. Tai zi shen (Radix pseudostellariae) is neutral and tonifies both qi and yinChuan xiong (Rhizoma ligustici chuanxiong) promotes blood circulation and relieves stagnation and pain in the channels that may be caused by long-term stiffening or twitching of muscles. Zhi gancao (Radix glycyrrhizae preparata) nourishes the heart and harmonizes the entire formula. From pharmacological perspectives, these herbs improve memory and learning abilities, eliminate toxic substances or allergens that increase the risk of ADD/ADHD and balance the central nervous system to relieve hyperactivity.1-8
In one laboratory study, administration of shi chang pu was associated with a dose-dependent effect in improving memory.1 Furthermore, in one clinical trial, 30 children with low IQ were treated, resulting in mild to moderate improvement in classroom performance using an herbal formula containing shi chang pu and yuan zhi. The treatment protocol was to administer the formula twice daily for two weeks per course of treatment, for a total of three months of treatment.2
Since the Merck Manual has proposed exposure to toxic substances and food additives as one of the main causes of ADD/ADHD, the importance of eliminating environmental toxins cannot be over-emphasized. In this formula, herbs are added to specifically protect the liver and improve the detoxification of environmental toxins.
Zhi gan cao has been used successfully for thousands of years for detoxification. More recently, it has been shown to have a marked detoxifying effect to treat a variety of poisonings, including but not limited to drug poisoning and food poisoning.3 Furthermore, zhi gan cao and yu jin have hepatoprotective effects against chemical- or tetrachloride-induced liver damage and liver cancer.4
Since ADD/ADHD is characterized by an imbalance of neurotransmitters, leading to a disharmony of the entire body, herbs that harmonize/balance the entire body have been used for treatment with good success. Mai men dongbai shaoshi chang pu and chuan xiong balance the central nervous system and calm hyperactivity. They have been used to effectively reversed drug-induced excitation.5-8 Mai men dongbai shao and chuan xiong harmonize the cardiovascular system and minimize the fluctuation of heart rate and blood pressure.9-12 Sheng di huang regulates the endocrine system to ensure normal production and release of endogenous hormones.13
Although the herbs discussed here are generally safe, they should be used with caution in individuals with yang deficiency or coldness. Furthermore, the herbs should be discontinued once the condition is stabilized or when the desired effects are achieved.
Nutrition. Make sure the patient's diet has an adequate amount of calcium and magnesium, which have a calming effect. Cold-water fish, such as tuna, salmon and herring, are great sources of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This essential fatty acid is vital for proper development of the brain. Also increase consumption of complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains.
On the other hand, avoid exposure to toxic substances, food additives or coloring, or allergens, which increase the risk of developing ADD/ADHD. Decrease consumption of simple carbohydrates, such as glucose, fructose, and processed sugars and grains. Eliminate from the diet: sugar, candy, junk food, foods with artificial color and flavor, and fried foods. Also avoid antacids, cough drops, throat lozenges and carbonated beverages.
Lifestyle Instructions. Psychosocial support is extremely important for complete and long-term treatment of ADD/ADHD. Such approaches include contingency management (e.g., reward and timeout systems), parent training, clinical behavior therapy (coordinated management by parents and teachers), and cognitive-behavioral treatment (e.g., self-monitoring, verbal self-instruction, problem-solving strategies, self-reinforcement). Finally, encourage reading and outdoor activities, and limit exposure to television, video games and loud music.
Herbs are not only effective for improving focus and attention, but they also improve memory and learning ability. Furthermore, herbs are much safer than drugs, both for short- and long-term uses. Practitioners and parents must both recognize that optimal treatment of ADD andADHD requires more than just taking drugs or herbs. It also requires dietary, environmental and behavioral changes. A combination of all these modalities ensures long-term success.
  1. Zhong Cao Yao 1992;23(8):417.
  2. Zhong Cheng Yao Yan Jiu 1982;6:22.
  3. Zhong Yao Tong Bao 1986;11(10):55.
  4. Zhong Guo Mian Yi Xue Za Zhi 1989;5(2):121.
  5. Guang Zhou Zhong Yi Xue Yuan Xue Bao 1986;23:29.
  6. Zhong Yao Tong Bao 1985;10(6):43.
  7. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong 1983;477.
  8. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong 1983;123.
  9. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong 1983;35.
  10. Hua Xi Yao Xue Za Zhi 1991;6(1):13.
  11. Zhong Guo Yao Li Xue Tong Bao 1986;2(5):26.
  12. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong 1989;2:40.
  13. Zhong Yao Xue 1998;156:158.

Acupuncture and ADHD

 Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common behavioral conditions among children. In the United States alone, approximately 4.5 million children between the ages of 5-17 years old are diagnosed with ADHD each year. Research indicates that when treating ADHD, a multidisciplinary approach is most effective; combining behavioral therapy, exercise, dietary changes and medication. Now acupuncture can be added as one of the treatment methods that can successfully manage ADHD.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a condition of the brain that makes it difficult to concentrate or control impulsive behavior.
Children with ADHD generally struggle with paying attention or concentrating. They can't seem to follow directions and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive, not stopping to think before they act. These behaviors are generally common in children. But they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD. The behaviors that are common with ADHD interfere with a child's ability to function at school and at home.
Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions.
Treatment for ADHD
Treatment for ADHD is multifaceted. It consists of ADHD medications, behavioral therapy and lifestyle and dietary modifications. ADHD is best managed when families, educational and health professionals work together to meet the unique needs of the child or adult who has ADHD to help them learn to focus their attention, develop their personal strengths, minimize disruptive behavior, and become productive and successful. Acupuncture is an excellent addition to any treatment plan as it is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while also diminishing the symptoms of ADHD.
What acupuncture can help with:
  • Improve focus and attention
  • Manage moods
  • Reduce fidgeting
  • Lower hyperactivity
  • Augment mood management techniques
  • Enhance concentration

Medical Acupuncture and Treating ADHD Without Drugs

August 16, 2000 (Rockville, MD) - According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as 3.8 million schoolchildren in the United States are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), making it one the most common behavioral problems for children and adolescents. Of these, at least 2 million take stimulants like Ritalin, and many more take other prescription medications.
Medical acupuncture, practiced by licensed M.D.'s and D.O.'s who integrate traditional Western medicine with alternative treatment modalities, is a safe, effective treatment strategy for children with ADHD, without the side-effects of drugs.
"The commonly prescribed drugs are not treating the core problems that cause ADHD, they are only temporarily alleviating the symptoms," said Nader E. Soliman, M.D., a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA) with a private practice in Rockville, MD. "Medical acupuncture can help children focus in school by treating the root of the problem, and at the same time reduce or eliminate the need for medications such as Ritalin," he added.
In patients with ADHD, many parts of the nervous system do not appear to be fully operational, which presumably causes the inability to focus, poor listening skills, fidgeting and disruptive behavior. These symptoms can make the annual "back to school" a stressful time of year for both children and their families.
Soliman primarily treats ADHD with auricular medicine, a subspecialty of medical acupuncture that uses the human ear as a means of diagnosing and treating dysfunctional systems in the body. The procedure stimulates certain points on the ear with a mild, electrical pulse. Once the symptoms of ADHD disappear, usually after one to four months of weekly treatment sessions, patients can cease therapy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Acupuncture and Allergies

Acupuncture and Allergies
According to Chinese medical theory, the symptoms and signs that indicate a Western diagnosis of allergies relate to imbalances in
the meridian and organ systems of the body.  These imbalances may stem from a variety of causes, including stress, poor diet,
constitutional weakness, pollutants and environmental toxins.
Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affect the functions of the organ systems.  Some of these organ systems
are involved in the production of Wei Qi (way chee).  According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, it is important
to have to correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating around the body in order to stay healthy.
What is Wei Qi? The Chinese concept of Wei Qi is similar to the Western concept of the immune system.  Wei Qi functions to protect
and defend the body against foreign substances, that if not caught can lead to allergies.  When Wei Qi is strong and abundant, we
remain healthy.  When the supply of Wei Qi becomes inadequate, health is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign
invaders such as dust, mold, animal dander, bacteria, viruses, and pollen.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine support and strengthen the systems of the body that are involved in the production of Wei Qi.
By building up the supply of Wei Qi and facilitating the smooth and free flow of it throughout the body, symptoms and signs related
to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.
What will an acupuncturist do?  An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough exam, taking a complete health history. He or she will then
develop a unique treatment plan that will address your specific concerns.  The goals of the treatment plan will be to eliminate visible
signs and symptoms, while addressing the root causes and underlying imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi.
Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs and dietary changes.  These therapies accelerate the healing process in order
to balance, build, and support the body’s Wei Qi.  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a drug-free, safe, natural and effective way
to eliminate hay fever, allergies or the common cold.


Allergic rhinitis has a complex set of symptoms characterized by seasonal or
perennial sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, often conjunctivitis and itching, in response to airborne allergens. Hayfever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis
can be specific to spring, summer, or fall. In these, the allergens mostly are
pollen (grass, weeds, trees..)  In some patients, the allergy occurs in any seasons.  This is then called perennial rhinitis, and is usually an allergy to fungus
spores, dust containing insects feces, proteins and animal hairs. The symptoms can be accompanied by headaches, irritability, insomnia, depression.  In
severe cases, coughing and asthmatic wheezing may be present.
Most patients with allergic rhinitis have a history of being treated with repeated antibiotics as children, and eating a diet
high in sugars, dairy products, fruit juices and yeasted grain products.
There are two main treatment plans: one pertaining to the acute stage, and one during the remission stages.  This is what
we refer as treating the branch (the symptoms), and treating the root ( the causes).
In old China, unseen pathogens were called External Cold Evils.  During the acute phase, the wind evils have invaded the
body, and the first organ they affect are the Lungs.  But not everyone exposed to these winds get sick.  This tells us that
there are predisposing factors to the catching" of the Evils. The underlying condition is a deficiency of "defensive QI", the
Qi (energy) lying just underneath the skin, that fights any evils which tries to enter the body.  This deficiency is caused by
a weakness of the "Spleen".  In western patients, the main causes of a weak "Spleen" are faulty diet and antibiotics.  Chinese
nutrition claims that sweets, raw foods and cold foods, damage the Spleen, and eating too many  fluid- producing foods
such as dairy products, fruits and fruit juices will damage the Spleen and engender a lot of Dampness and Phlegm.

Seasonal Allergies Relieved With Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture

Often referred to as “hay fever,” allergic rhinitis can be caused by a variety of relatively
harmless substances, ranging from pollen and dust to animal dander. The most common
form of allergic rhinitis is seasonal allergic rhinitis, which typically occurs at the same
time each year when certain plants are in bloom. Other people can be afflicted with
perennial allergic rhinitis (which may occur at any given time of the year) or occupational
allergic rhinitis (which is caused by an allergic reaction to substances in the workplace,
such as chemicals or grains). All told, between 10 percent and 20 percent of the general
population is believed to have some form of allergic rhinitis, with direct and indirect
health care costs totaling between $4.5 and $7.7 billion per year in the U.S. alone.
In China, acupuncture and herbal remedies have been used to combat symptoms similar
to allergic rhinitis successfully for centuries. Previous research has shown, for instance,
that Chinese herbal medicine can treat atopic dermatitis, while acupuncture has been
proven effective in relieving the symptoms a number of allergic conditions. However,
few studies have examined the combined use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal
remedies in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
A study in the September 2004 issue of Allergy has concluded that a combination of
Chinese herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions may be more effective than a placebo at
relieving the symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. The authors of the study also suggest
that future research be conducted to investigate the effectiveness of an acupuncture­herb
combination in the treatment of other conditions.
In the study, a total of 52 patients between the ages of 20 and 58, all diagnosed with
seasonal allergic rhinitis, were randomly assigned to a traditional Chinese medicine group
or a control group. In the TCM group, patients received a standardized 20­minute
acupuncture treatment once a week for six weeks, with points on the Large Intestine,
Gallbladder, Lung and Liver meridians stimulated. Additional points were selected based
on each patient’s individual symptoms. All of the patients were treated while in a supine
position. After the needles were inserted, they were manipulated to obtain de qi. The
needles were manipulated again 10 minutes after the start of treatment.
Along with acupuncture, TCM patients received a basic herbal formula (consisting of
schizonepeta, chrysanthemum, cassia seed, plantago seed and tribulus), which they were
instructed to take as a decoction three times per day, parallel to acupuncture treatment. In
addition to the basic formula, every patient received a second formula tailored to the
patient’s individual TCM diagnosis.
In the control group, patients were given acupuncture at standardized non­acupuncture
points distant from meridians, and were treated superficially with needles smaller than
those used on the TCM patients. The needles were not manipulated, and the same points
were needled at each acupuncture session. Control patients also received a non­specificherbal formula comprised of coix seed, licorice, poria, hops, oryza, barley, hawthorn
fruit, and medicated leaven.
To measure the effect of each therapy, patients used a visual analogue scale to rate the
severity of hay fever suffered during the previous week on a 10­point scale, and an
assessment­of­change scale to measure any changes in symptoms. Patients also filled out
an allergic rhinitis questionnaire to rate the severity of symptoms, and a pair of quality­
of­life surveys. In addition, patients were asked to document the number of anti­allergy
drugs taken for one week.
Patient Surveys Find Favorable Results for Acupuncture/Herb Combination
At the start of the study, visual analogue scores for each group were nearly identical (4.1
for the TCM group, 4.2 for the control group). By the end of the study period, however,
the severity of hay fever was “significantly less pronounced in the TCM group” than in
the control patients, and instances of remission (represented by a 0 or 1 on the visual
analogue scale) occurred twice as often in TCM patients compared to patients in the
control group.
Similar results were seen in the assessment­of­change scores and the rhinitis
questionnaire. Improvement on the assessment­of­change score was observed in 85
percent of the TCM patients versus only 40 percent of control patients. An analysis of the
rhinitis questionnaire, meanwhile, found that TCM patients experienced improvements in
allergy symptoms in the eyes and nose, higher levels of physical activity, and an
improved psychological condition compared to patients in the control group.
Intake of anti­allergy drugs also dropped dramatically among TCM patients. According
to the researchers, “the permitted drug intake for allergic rhinitis symptoms decreased
substantially, from 7.7 to 3.4 points in the TCM group, whereas we found only a slight
decrease in the control group (7.7­6.0).”
The acupuncture­herb combination appeared to be well­tolerated by patients in both
groups. Two patients in the TCM group complained of pain due to needle insertion, as
did one patient in the control group. A second control patient complained of hematoma,
while a third suffered from paresthesia in one arm, which persisted for 7 days. Five
patients (two TCM, three control) complained that the herbal decoction either tasted
bitter or made them feel nauseous. However, none of the patients experienced “severe or
serious adverse events” that would have caused them to leave the trial.
Limitations and Conclusions
The scientists noted that their study methods contained some restrictions that might have
impacted the quality of their research. For instance, they stated that one of the
questionnaires used in the study may have been “methodologically inefficient” because
of the potential for low patient compliance. In addition, the acupuncture­herb therapyused in the trial lasted only 6 weeks; other studies have indicated that longer treatment
times and more individualized therapies have resulted in better patient outcomes.
After taking the limitations into account, the authors suggested that the combination of
acupuncture and an herbal decoction, tailored to the patient and administered according
to the diagnostic principles of traditional Chinese medicine, could be effective in treating
mild­to­moderate forms of seasonal allergic rhinitis. As they noted in the study’s
“We could show that this treatment was efficacious in improving global severity rating
and in affecting disease­related quality of life parameters after 6 weeks of treatment when
compared with sham needling plus a non­specific herbal formulation … Taking into
account the above­mentioned limitations of the study, we conclude that acupuncture plus
Chinese herbal formulations may offer relief in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Our findings support further investigations of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine
in this and other diseases.”


*A similar version was published in my ‘Oriental Medicine’ Column in Pathways Magazine, Mind, Body, Spirit
Resources in the Washington DC Metro Area , Spring 2004
February…March…April…allergies! Spring can be painful. Who feels well with itchy eyes, drippy
nose, and all those sneezes? You can take drugs of course…but they only cover up the problem.
What would you say to reducing your allergic tendency so you almost forget it’s there?
What would you say to actually getting RID of your allergies? If this sounds too good to be
true, keep reading! Here are 5 ways in which a Chinese medicine (or related) approach can help
you reduce allergic symptoms and even stop them altogether.
What’s the real problem? A healthy body can eat, drink, touch, or breathe almost anything that
isn’t specifically toxic. But some bodies react to commonplace things--molds, pollens, textiles,
foods--as if they were poisons. Over-reacting signals confusion in the immune system, but what
makes a body do that? Allergies tend to run in families--some part of the allergic response is inborn. But some is learned behavior, habits that encourage allergic responses. If a person can
change those habits and strengthen the immune system, their allergic tendency will lessen.
Some habits can be changed by your decision--see “self-help” below. But some habits-ofinternal-energetic-balance are best modified by seeing a specialist in energy medicine,
such as an acupuncturist. Therefore, I recommend a two-pronged approach: see an
acupuncturist who has experience in alleviating allergies, and change your lifestyle to support
better immune-system health.
A confused immune system: From the point of view of Chinese medicine, a person who is
allergic is expressing an inability to protect themselves from “outside invaders”. One region of the
“outside” is our skin and respiratory system. Attacks to this system are pretty direct as when we
inhale pollens or pollutants, or touch substances that our body rejects. Respiratory allergies
show up as hives or eczema, runny nose, post-nasal drip, red and itchy eyes, cough and sneeze,
frequent almost-sore throat, repeated sinusitis, and of course, allergic asthma. The other region
of the “outside” is our digestive system. Good digestion breaks foods into such tiny components
that when they enter the bloodstream, the body sees them as building blocks, and puts them to
work. But if digestion is inefficient, overly large molecules escape into the blood stream, and
these provoke the immune system to attack. Depending on the person, such attacks may be felt
in the respiratory system, on the skin, in the joints, in the brain (foggy thinking, headache,
irritability, weepiness, sluggishness), or in the gut itself (diarrhea, constipation, cramps, gas…).
If the gut is in poor shape, or the diet is poor, a person may live with physical and emotional
discomfort and not even realize they are suffering from allergies!
In Chinese medicine we say that a person with respiratory allergies has weak Wei Qi, the Qi that
protects the outside. Most people with allergies also have weak Spleen health and inefficient
digestion (the Chinese Organ translated as “Spleen” is in charge of digestion). With weak
Spleens we often see Damp--for example, an excess of mucous in the lungs and nose. Many
people with allergies also have weak Kidney Qi, and, if they are experiencing frustration, or a
sense of congestion in their noses, chests, or belly, stagnant Liver energy.
1. Acupuncture: All the above problems can be addressed using acupuncture.
Acupuncture addresses the deep issues--that is, your tendency to react to stress with allergies. It
may take some months or even a couple of years, but with acupuncture you can expect that
your allergic tendency will lessen as your energetic health improves.
2. Herbs: Depending on your situation, your acupuncturist may wish to add herbs to her/his
treatment. There are herbal combinations that provide symptom relief similar to that provided by

antihistamines, but meanwhile also include herbs to strengthen the Spleen, Lung, and Kidney
energies, diminish Damp, and move Qi to avoid stagnation. In short, these combinations don’t
just stop runny noses, but actually address the underlying situation and help heal you.
3. Enzyme & Probiotic Therapy. Enzymes support chemical reactions, but are not themselves
used up in the process--they are catalysts. We produce our own enzymes, but with age, illness,
and if stressed by poor diet, we may run low. Lack of enzymes is a major reason why digestion
becomes inefficient--so by adding enzymes, people can reduce their allergic tendency. I
recommend enzyme supplementation with the Loomis system to everyone trying to reduce their
allergic tendency and improve their digestion. Probiotics are the microorganisms that live in our
intestines and help digest our food—a probiotic supplement can much improve gut health.
4. Allergy Elimination: Several bioenergetic systems claim to actually eliminate allergies. Using
the BioSET system, I’ve cleared people of allergies to citrus, vinegar, garlic, pine trees, cats,
dogs, and so on. One woman with pollen allergies had planned an outdoor wedding--in just a few
sessions she was able to enjoy a happy day in the fields without drugs or sniffles. Allergy
elimination techniques start from the perception that if a substance weakens the body, it will show
up as a weak muscle response. Treatment includes strengthening weakened parts of the body,
then tapping along the spinal nerve ganglia locations to “reset” the body with regard to the
troublesome substance. This is followed by acupuncture on points known to reduce the allergic
response. Patients can tell if the allergy is “cleared” immediately, because exposure will no
longer cause a weak muscle response.
5. Self-Care. The first and probably most important task is simply to live a regular life. Eating
well, getting enough sleep and sufficient exercise, enjoying laughter and play, and living by a
schedule allows energy to move with ease and helps keep the immune system strong.
Diet is core to minimizing allergies because--remember--a healthy digestive system supports
good Qi and a strong immune system. Choose supplements that are specifically helpful to
people with allergies, like Vitamins B-6 & C, Quercetin, and others--look for “anti-allergy”
combinations at supplement stores.
Construct your daily diet out of foods that keep you strong and minimize the allergic
response. This is important even if your allergies are to pollens or antibiotics. This is because
all living things are made of the same fundamental building blocks, and your sensitivity may be to
one of those building blocks rather than to the whole substance. The allergy elimination systems
find that once people are cleared for common substances such as proteins, minerals, and
especially phenolics (the chemicals that give flavor and color to living things) their allergic
responses to more complex substances such as pollens or foods are already much reduced.
People with allergies should avoid foods to which they know they are sensitive. Many may find
that a trial of avoiding foods known to be highly allergenic is also helpful. The most allergenic
foods are wheat (oats, barley, rye), soy, corn, peanuts, cow’s milk, citrus, eggs, and shellfish.
Just one week of avoidance should tell you if you are better in the absence of the test substance.
If so, try allergy elimination and acupuncture, in hopes that you can return that food to your diet
while minimizing your sensitivity response. Also avoid foods that weaken everyone, including
sugar in all its forms (sodas, sweets, candy, chocolate, white flour products), alcohol, coffee, cola,
diet foods (especially aspartame/ Nutra-Sweet), margarine and other trans-fats, and foods that
are excessively hot or cold (e.g., hot peppers, ice cream, ice).
You ask, so what should I eat? Simple!: Eat lots of fresh vegetables, plus fresh fruit, fresh
wholesome meats and fish, fresh nuts and seeds, and olive, grapeseed, and flaxseed oils--
this is a diet that most people like and thrive on. If you crave a grain, try rice, millet,
amaranth, or quinoa.

Good luck…and Enjoy!

Allergies and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The birds are chirping, the wind is blowing, and the green shoots are jutting out of the earth.
Nothing is more relieving for those of us in the Northern hemisphere than a beautiful spring after
a long winter, well at least for most of us. If you are one of those thousands of people affected by
seasonal allergies you know the friendly signs of spring can be a step ahead of us resulting in
sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and overall discomfort and misery.
Most allergies sufferers are used to stocking up on over the counter anti-histamines
pharmaceuticals in preparation for allergy season. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine can
offer treatment that can not only relieve allergy symptoms but improve your overall health.
Chinese medicine describes seasonal allergies as being caused by both internal and external
Externally, allergies are caused by pathogenic wind invading. Wind is a yang pathogen and tends
to invade the yang part of the body, namely the head and eyes. Signs that wind has invaded are
itching, watery eyes, redness that comes and goes and nasal congestion. Symptoms associated
with wind come on abruptly and strongly. This is why you can be fine one minute and have a
runny nose or be completely congested the next.
As the weather changes we become more vulnerable to outside pathogens. Don’t be afraid to
keep wearing a scarf as it gets a little warmer to help your defences from the wind.  Acupuncture
and Chinese medicine are very effective at releasing wind and therefore relieving the symptoms.
While clearing wind is important for the short term relief of allergies a long term cure can only
be achieved by working towards internal balance. Allergies are an over-reaction of our immune
system. When our stress levels are elevated our immune system becomes hyperactive. In TCM
the way to stop our natural defences from going haywire is to balance of our kidneys. When our
kidneys are regulated wind is unable to penetrate our defensive qi and symptoms do not emerge.
A kidney imbalance is the root cause of why we get allergies.  Restoring kidney qi can take
longer and making lifestyle changes but can lead to permanent resolution of seasonal allergies as
well as bringing clarity and vitality into your life.

Combating the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies with Traditional Chinese Medicine

As the fall season approaches, one of the most common complaints that patients have is 
the onset of seasonal allergies.  During this time pollen counts are high triggering many 
of us to have allergy attacks, otherwise known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis
(AR).  The main culprit of these attacks of seasonal allergic rhinitis is ragweed pollen,
which affects 85 to 90 percent of Fall-allergy victims.  
Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (AR) include nasal congestion, watery nasal 
discharge and sneezing, red and itchy eyes.  These symptoms are commonly treated with
medications such as antihistamines, steroid inhalers, and over the counter decongestant 
sprays.  While these medications may temporarily relieve the symptoms of seasonal 
allergic rhinitis, they do come with several side effects including sedation, dizziness, 
fatigue, insomnia, nervousness, and gastro-intestinal disturbances.  
Many patients are turning to complementary medical treatments such as Traditional 
Chinese Medicine (TCM) to relieve these symptoms of seasonal AR.  TCM, which 
includes Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) and acupuncture, dates back over 2000 years.  
It is a unique, holistic form of medical treatment that looks at the entire constitution of a 
patient to determine the underlying imbalances within the patient’s body.  By identifying 
these imbalances, acupuncturists are able to simultaneously treat the root cause of the 
problem as well as alleviate the symptoms.  
Symptoms of seasonal AR have been treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbal 
medicine for centuries in China.  Clinical trials have shown that acupuncture and 
CHM are an effective and safe treatment option for patients with seasonal AR.  For 
example, a recent randomized-controlled study demonstrated that acupuncture can result 
in a 66 percent reduction in symptom severity of seasonal AR and that the use of Chinese 
herbal medicine can reduce the symptoms of seasonal AR by up to 63 percent without 
adverse side effects.
Acupuncture stimulates self-healing mechanisms allowing the body to process and filter 
out the allergens.  In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted superficially through the skin 
at specific points along the body stimulating the dispersion and flow of energy or “Qi”.  
Qi is the TCM concept for acupuncture-related stimulation of the nervous system, which 
has been shown to mediate physiological changes associated with this therapy.  Some of 
the points chosen for seasonal AR are located around the sinuses and nose, while other 
points are located on different parts of the body.  Upon insertion of these needles, most 
patients feel immediate relief of the allergy symptoms.  Sinus pressure is decreased, nasal 
passages are unblocked, itchy eyes subside and the patient is able to breathe more easily 
through the nose.

In the treatment of seasonal AR, the best time to receive acupuncture treatment is one
month prior to the usual time of the seasonal allergy attack.  Ideally, a patient should seek
acupuncture treatment before the start of the symptoms.  However, if the symptoms have
already begun, treatment(s) will bring symptomatic relief and will support the immune
system, thereby preventing future allergy attacks.
Ways to avoid seasonal allergy attacks in the fall are to keep windows closed whenever
possible, use air conditioning to keep you cool when necessary, shower and change
clothes immediately after being outdoors, avoid going out between 5:00 am and 10:00 am
when pollen levels are highest.  Limit the use of a humidifier since they can actually
cause mold to accumulate in the house making allergies worse.  Eat a healthy diet that is
limited in milk, processed sugar and yeast containing foods.  Sugar, dairy products, and
yeast containing foods create an overabundance of dampness in the body which will
aggravate the symptoms of nasal congestion and nasal discharge.  These foods also can
contribute to the severity of seasonal AR and affect the duration and persistence of its
symptoms.  Lastly, take a multivitamin to help maintain your body’s defenses and get
plenty of rest.  Optimizing your immune function helps your body resist the allergens that
cause seasonal AR thereby preventing the allergy symptoms from reoccurring year after
For more information on how acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help prevent
and relieve seasonal allergic rhinitis, please call 949-646-4325.

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randomized controlled clinical trial.  Am J Chin Med. 2002;30(1):1-11.
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7.  Ng DK, Chow PY, et al.  A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood 
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