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Seasonal Reno Allergies: Causes and Cures
Those with seasonal or year-round allergies know that they’re no laughing matter. In fact, they can oftentimes be downright frustrating, limiting your ability to enjoy certain activities. About 35 million Americans suffer from at least one form of bothersome seasonal allergy or another(1). And while the weather warms, the High Sierra beckons and the summer activities we have long awaited all year are finally here, allergies can put a serious kink in our plans for spring and summer fun. In this issue, Path to Wellness provides the information regarding allergies to keep you out of the doctors office and knee-deep in the activities you love this summer. Plus, we explore allergies that go far beyond the pollen.

Why Me?
As we’ll discuss in more detail, allergies are caused by more than just blooming sagebrush and fresh-cut grass. Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, are essentially when the body misidentifies a harmless substance (allergen) as harmful, initiating a series of inflammatory responses in order to eject the substance from the body, leading to the onset of reactionary symptoms. This is considered by some as a misplaced immunity. While the body believes it’s reacting for good reason, it really isn’t.

So many people who suffer from allergies do so on a seasonal basis, commonly because their bodies respond to the pollen and airborne particles produced from flowers, trees, bushes and grass. As mentioned earlier, this is your body trying to defend itself from something it doesn’t necessarily have to. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) aims to treat allergic disease by regulating the immune system through a variety of natural herbs and supplements and acupuncture. Rather than focusing on treatment of symptoms, as Western Medicine does, TCM uses herbs and acupuncture to help calm the immune system’s response when your body encounters these allergens. Natural antihistamines include xanthium fruit, magnolia, Dahurican angelica or dandelion. While these herbs are strong and efficient, they do take slightly more time to work than over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.

Seasonal vs. Dietary
Dietary allergies and sensitivities affect the body in a similar way to seasonal airborne (usually pollen) allergies. Foremost, discovering which foods one may or may not be sensitive to plays a foundational role in establishing an effective herbal remedy for providing much more than just temporary allergy relief. Identifying and avoiding which foods cause discomfort, bloating, nausea and other symptoms often brings a lot of relief to patients who suffer from chronic allergy symptoms. This relief includes not only the symptoms mentioned above but also relief from common symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing and a runny nose.

One vastly overlooked component of dietary allergies is the role that processed foods play in irritating our digestive flow. Preparing your own food using wholesome, natural ingredients reaps incredible benefits for your overall health. Alleviating the irritants of your digestive tract helps not only your abdominal health but initiates a healing process throughout the body. Incorporating spices such as cumin, coriander, cardamom, fennel, clove, turmeric, fenugreek, cayenne and black pepper also boosts your digestive health to its natural, healthy state.

In addition to food allergies, food sensitivities cause a variety of symptoms often confused with those of allergies. Rather than eliciting an immune response (which leads to the symptom of the food allergy), food sensitivities are the body’s inability to break down certain foods and proteins. One of the most common food sensitivities is lactose intolerance, which occurs when someone has a deficiency in a digestive enzyme (lactase) that keeps them from properly digesting milk. Although lactose intolerance leads to symptoms that may be confused with those that would occur if the person truly was allergic to milk, it’s a sensitivity rather than a true allergy.

One way to weed out the culprits of individual food sensitivities is to avoid eating the foods you believe are causing your symptoms. Keeping a food diary for several weeks and analyzing it to determine which foods to cut out is an easy, inexpensive and effective approach. Another way is to visit a doctor and undergo tests that will offer insight into your food sensitivities and you food allergies.

For more information about dietary allergy/sensitivity relief and what you can do to combat dietary allergies the natural way (including finding out which foods are causing you discomfort), we recommend visiting the Finley Center in Reno. Dr. Finley offers an array of allergy, food allergy and sensitivity panels to help you identify those pesky culprits causing your symptoms.

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Food-allergy Relief
Just as Traditional Chinese Medicine can be administered to help reduce the frustrating symptoms caused by seasonal allergies and sensitivities, so too can a variety of its practices be used to help alleviate symptoms caused by stubborn food allergies. Sure, the world offers a cornucopia of delicious foods--and we want to savor them all--but sometimes our bodies reject certain foods. When it comes to food allergies and/or sensitivities, TCM aims to improve the function of the digestive tract, rather than simply cut out certain foods for life. While foods that prove to cause you to experience unpleasant symptoms will likely need to be avoided temporary, in many cases you can reintroduce them after a period of allowing your intestines to heal through diet, supplements and herbal medications.

Most food allergies/sensitivities boil down to digestive issues, which can be categorized in three main areas: Stomach or spleen deficiency, liver stagnation and mucus buildup. For an issue of stomach/spleen deficiency (or weakness), the root of the matter may be caused by a lack of protein. In these cases, herbal ginseng tonics and dietary modifications are typically prescribed. When considering the issue of liver stagnation--which accounts for most irritable bowel cases--the root cause may be stress-related rather than the cause of ingesting any certain foods. In these situations, treatments aim to release the stored up energy being held in the liver. Some patients who are perplexed as to why they can sometimes consume dairy without any issues and other times have their body react negatively find that they are suffering from liver stagnation. The third digestive-issue area, mucus buildup, results from food not being broken down appropriately, which, over time, can cause toxicity in the gastrointestinal tract. For this, herbs that help drain the mucus and calm inflammation are prescribed. Remember, we are referring to the organs and organ systems based on TCM, not western medicine.

In addition to herbs, Traditional Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture to treat allergies because of acupuncture’s ability to affect the immune response of our bodies. Acupuncture has been proven to alleviate both seasonal and dietary allergies through various a combination of acupuncture, herbal medications and a regulated diet. Acupuncture can stimulate points on the outside of our bodies to trigger beneficial reactions inside. Desired reactions positively impact the immune system, which is where our allergic reactions start.

In this newsletter, we’ve included a do-it-yourself acupressure (no needles, just slight pressure applied by your fingertips) exercise to help with sinus pressure (see the second item in this newsletter’s Q&A section).

Resources
(1) See
www.acaai.com…AreYouMakingYourSpringAllergiesWorse
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sara-calabro/acupuncture_b_1407077.html
http://www.somaacupuncture.com/allergies.html
http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32615
http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/traditional-chinese-herbs-for-food-allergies-and-environmental-sensitivitie/

The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists by Giovanni Maciocia Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Bensky/Gamble The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists by Giovanni Maciocia Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Bensky/Gamble

Q: Why do I have food allergies at some times and not the others?

A: Total Load Theory: the idea that while one allergen may not elicit an allergic reaction, exposure to additional allergens while continuing exposure to the initial allergen overwhelms the body, causing an allergic reaction. Therefore, if you have an allergy to something like ragweed, it may be minute enough not to cause any symptoms. Then, you’re exposed to ragweed and you drink a glass of milk, causing symptoms. The idea is that a single allergen may not elicit a response on its own, but when you are exposed to certain foods they can become an additional allergic factor. Again, we recommend taking a food sensitivity test to get to the bottom of what your body’s specific allergies truly are.

Q: Is there a way to naturally relieve sinus pressure on my own?

A:Yes, try a little acupressure for temporary relief! Here we’re presenting a simple do-it-yourself acupressure exercise that offers relief. However, in most cases this technique is no substitute for the benefit of professional treatment (e.g. acupuncture). This technique aims for six points on the face and all points (illustrated below) are pressed twice. Place your pinkies just on the outside of each nostril, pushing diagonally upward. Then, place each ring finger just below each eye, pressing downward toward the mouth. Finally, press each middle finger into the inner side of each eyebrow upward toward the top of the head. Again, pressing firmly, twice, for 20-second intervals is ideal for at-home, on-the-spot relief from allergies without the side effects of pesky over-the-counter drugs.

Q:I’ve heard of a condition called leaky gut … what is leaky gut?

A: Leaky gut syndrome is not exactly recognized by traditional physicians; however, evidence continues to surface pointing towards its legitimacy as a concerning medical condition. The condition is characterized by symptoms such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes and even autoimmune disorders. The theory behind leaky gut syndrome is that damage to the intestinal lining allows toxins and incompletely digested fats and proteins to permeate through the digestive system into the bloodstream. As one might imagine, this results in a variety of negative symptoms (listed above). While leaky gut may not be directly associated to allergies, food sensitivities may contribute to symptoms and irritability.
 
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