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Treat Allergic Rhinitis with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Allergic rhinitis is a condition which presents as frequent attacks of nasal itching,sneezing, watery nasal discharge or blockage of the nasal passages. Attacks commonly occur in the morning and at night. It may be seasonal (a limited period of the year) or perennial (throughout the whole year).

Seasonal rhinitis is often called "hay fever" and is the most common of all allergic diseases. From 2 to 20 per cent of the population worldwide are thought to be affected by it. Prevalence is maximum in the teenage years.


The disorder is due to a hypersensitivity reaction to certain substances that affect the mucous membranes of the nose and associated glands. Certain substances may be from grasses, flowers, wild plants or trees; may derived from house dust, fungal spores or animal dander (scurf).

In TCM understanding, Allergic rhinitis is mainly due to deficiency of lung qi that results the individual does not have strong protective qi and enables the wind evil and coldness evils to invade the nose easily.

In addition, Allergic rhinitis is also related the function of spleen and kidney. Spleen is the main sources of qi and blood and can transport body fluid. when the spleen is deficient, the nose lose its supply of nutrients and the body fluid accumulate which both can result a swollen, pale nasal mucosa and excessive secretions. The deficiency of kidney usually occurs after long-term or severe damage of organs. It leads to under-functioning of the organs, interrupted flow of qi and blood, and also affects the functioning of the lung and the nose.


The seasonal type of allergic rhinitis is characterized by the frequent sudden attacks of nasal itching, sneezing, profuse watery nasal discharge and nasal congestion. The attacks last for a few hours and are often accompanied by smarting and watering of the eyes and conjunctivitis. In some patients, conjunctivitis may occur in the absence of nasal symptoms. In addition, Swelling of the nasal membranes may lead to headache because of obstruction of the sinuses.

In the perennial variety the symptoms are similar but more continuous which result distressing complications, such as snoring and dry throat, dark circles and puffiness under the eyes, frequent headaches, sore throat, recurrent or chronic sinusitis, bronchitis even ear infection.


The diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is usually established by the history and physical exam. In addition, a skin test or a blood test may be needed.

For TCM practitioners, they make a diagnosis based on the four examination technique and differentiate it by the disharmony patterns.

The following are the usual types of disharmony patterns for allergic rhinitis:

Deficiency of lung qi, invasion by wind and coldness evils

In this pattern, individuals present with nasal itching, sneezing, congestion, and a watery discharge. Symptoms are usually triggered by being exposed to wind or a cold temperature in the morning. Systemic symptoms include pallor, shortness of breath, ease of sweating on exertion, and aversion to cold.

Lung and spleen deficiency, dampness accumulation in the nose

In this pattern, Individuals usually present with symptoms such as sneezing with watery discharge and moderately severe nasal obstruction. These can be accompanied by heaviness in the forehead or a pounding pain between the eyebrows. Other symptoms include a loss of sense of smell, fatigue, shortness of breath, aversion to cold, a heavy sensation in the limbs, abdominal fullness, a poor appetite, and diarrhea.

Depletion in kidney yang, lungs lose promoting and warmth support from the kidneys

Individuals suffer from nasal obstruction, sneezing with watery discharge, severe aversion to cold, and coldness in the limbs. The symptoms are usually triggered by a cold temperature. Other symptoms include dizziness, ringing in the ears, frequent nocturnal urination, impotence and premature ejaculation, and a hot sensation in the palms and soles of the feet.


In western medicine, treatment consists of environmental measures to avoid allergen exposure, drugs, and desensitization. Avoidance is not always possible or practical, so medications are needed to control symptoms. Drug therapy mainly include: antihistamines, decongestant drugs ,anti-inflammatory drugs such as Sodium cromoglycate and nedocromil sodium, Corticosteroids Allergen injection therapy.

Due to the some possible side effects of western medicine, many people seek treatment from TCM. In China, herbal medicine and acupuncture & moxibustion are widely used to treat this disease and have promising results. In controlled studies, it has been shown that acupuncture is more effective than antihistamine drugs in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Acupuncture’s lack of side-effects is a distinct advantage.

Herbal Therapy

Deficiency of lung qi, invasion by wind and coldness evils

Prescription: Yu Ping Feng San and Gui Zhi Tang plus

Lung and spleen deficiency, dampness accumulation in the nose

Prescription: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang plus

Depletion in kidney yang, lungs lose promoting and warmth support from the kidneys

Prescription: Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan and Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang plus

Acupuncture The use of acupuncture at the distal and proximal points, or along the meridians, helps to regulate the meridians and qi movement, facilitate the flow of lung qi and ventilate the nose.

Major acupuncture points: ying-xiang, shang-xing, yin-tang, feng-chi, da-zhui, feng-men, fei-shu, he-gu.

With TCM for allergic rhinitis well-acceptance by the general population, more and more studies are developed.These studies indicated that the treatment of allergic disorders with TCM therapy including herbal medicines and acupuncture are of safety and efficacy. The mechanism of TCM in the treatment of AR has been discussed. It has been reported that a number of the herbs in the Chinese herbal formulae used in the treatment possess anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory or immune modulation activity.


Attention should be paid to climatic changes and some substances should be avoided.

Do regular exercise will help strengthen the the overall body condition.

Some foods such as cold, greasy, and spicy foods should be avoided. Sea food or other food that trigger the disorder should not be eaten.

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