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Preventing Seasonal Allergies

As February begins to take full hold here in North Carolina, it’s time to start preparing for the allergy season. “What?!,” you say, “It’s winter! Nothing is blooming yet!” Yes, but those barren limbs and flowerbeds we see all around us hold the potential to wreak much suffering on those of us with susceptible noses. The trees here in the Piedmont will start releasing their pollen before you know it. Last year it was so thick and heavy, the yellow miasma that marks early spring here struck those usually unaffected by seasonal allergies. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Prevention is definitely the best strategy when it comes to dealing with seasonal allergies. One of the easiest methods is taking nettles either as a tea or a capsule. If you decide to use capsules, choose a freeze-dried preparation.  Daily consumption of this herb can help to blunt the histamine response that causes the discomfort associated with allergies. It’s important to consume this herb before you are exposed to your typical allergen.

Ginger and turmeric help to normalize hepatic and gastric function and decrease levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body. It’s these inflammatory chemicals, which contribute to the severity of the body’s allergic response.  Turmeric is best taken as an extract.  Look for companies that extract with both alcohol and super critical extraction methods.  Also, the addition of black pepper extract and/or quercetin aids the absorption of turmeric.  Ginger works well as a food, a medicinal tea and an extract.  Choose one that works for you, or use them all.

I have also had personal success using the homeopathic tincture for tree pollen allergies by Natrabio. It’s called Tree Pollen. In my experience, it works best if I start 1-2 months before the heaviest pollen starts to fall.

Next on the list is the neti pot or nasal wash. You can use a traditional pot or the newer squeeze bottle, though I prefer the traditional pot, because it is gentler. In order to minimize exposure to harmful bacteria and protozoa, the CDC suggests using distilled water. Tap water filtered through a 1-micron filter and then boiled is also acceptable. Check the specifications on your filter to see if it meets this criterion. After you have warmed your water to a comfortable temperature, add sea salt (get the kind with no iodine or anti caking agents) and a bit of baking soda. I usually use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of each per 2 cups of water. This mixture makes enough isotonic saline solution for 2 full neti pots. Use 1 pot per nostril and repeat 1-2 times per day to clean the nasal passages and aid sinus health.

The last recommendation would be to try a series of acupuncture treatments in the months before you would typically experience your allergy symptoms. Acupuncture is a powerful modality that can reduce inflammation and greatly reduce or eliminate the allergic response to environmental irritants. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Allergies – Acupuncture Can Provide Relief

Allergies, seasonal or year round, are an ongoing problem for many individuals.
Seasonal allergies typically affect people during a particular season or time of year.
They are also referred to as outdoor allergies and are generally triggered by tree, grass
and weed pollens or outdoor mold spores. Year round allergies also known as indoor
allergies are typically brought on by animal dander, dust mites, mold spores or insect
allergens. There are also food allergies, which occur as a result of eating a culprit food,
and can also create physical and/or emotional symptoms such as body hives, swelling,
itching or redness of the skin, depression and/or moodiness.
No matter what kind of allergy you suffer from, environmental or food related,
acupuncture can provide needed relief. While medications (over-the-counter or
prescribed) often come with unwanted side-effects, acupuncture does not. This makes
acupuncture an appealing option for people looking for a new way to combat 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, foods that don’t agree with your body, constitutional weakness, pollutants and
environmental toxins.
Over time, if imbalances remain within the body, they will affec t the functions of the
Organ Systems. Some of these Organ Systems are involved in the production of Wei
Qi (pronounced “way chee”). According to the theories of acupuncture and Chinese
medicine, it is important to have the correct quality and quantity of Wei Qi circulating
around the body in order to stay healthy.
What is Wei Qi?
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 deficient, health
is compromised and we become vulnerable to foreign invaders such as dust, mold,
animal dander, bacteria, viruses and pollen. People who have a Wei Qi deficiency are
prone to allergies and frequent colds.
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 through the body , symptoms and signs
related to allergies could be greatly reduced or eliminated.
What will an Acupunturist do?
What will an acupuncturist do? An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough exam, taking
a complete health history. He/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 symptoms and signs, while addressing the root cause(s) and underlying
imbalances affecting the quality and quantity of Wei Qi.
Acupuncture treatments may be combined with herbs, dietary changes, massage
(tuina), or exercise. These therapies accelerate the healing process in order to balance,
build, and support the health and functioning of your body’s systems.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a drug-free, safe, natural and effective way to
eliminate hay fever, allergies or the common cold.


According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults and costing more than $42 billion a year.

Feelings of anxiety, worry and fear related to significant and challenging events are justified and very common. Anxiety becomes a problem when emotional reactions are out of proportion with what might be “normally” expected in a situation, and when symptoms interfere with a person’s daily functioning or sleep patterns. Mild anxiety leaves a person feeling a bit unsettled, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating.

Anxiety is used as a general term for several disorders that have common symptoms – such as nervousness, worrying, apprehension and fear. Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are briefly described below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by unrealistic, persistent and excessive worry about everyday things. People with this disorder often expect the worst and experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

Panic Disorder is characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and seemingly out-of-the-blue, causing the individual to become preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack.

Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias commonly focus on flying, bridges, insects, heights, dental or medical procedures and elevators. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, reduce self-esteem, limit work efficiency and put a strain on relationships.

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a fear of being negatively judged and scrutinized by others in social or performance-related situations. Different variations of this type of anxiety include a fear of intimacy, stage fright and a fear of humiliation. People suffering from this disorder can sometimes isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid public situations and human contact.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted or intrusive thoughts, which often make the sufferer feel compelled to repeat certain behaviors or routines. Even when the OCD sufferers know the irrationality of their compulsions, they feel powerless to stop them. They may obsessively wash their hands, clean personal items or constantly check light switches, locks or stoves.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is anxiety that results from previous trauma such as military combat, rape, a natural disaster, a serious accident or other life-threatening events. Most people who experience such events recover from them, but people with PTSD continue to be anxious and severely depressed for months or even years following the event. They often experience flashbacks and behavioral changes in order to avoid certain stimuli.

Acupuncture Can Help. A clinical study conducted in China in 2010, has concluded that acupuncture is a “safe and effective” treatment for mood disorders including depression and severe anxiety, in some cases proving to increase the effectiveness of medication-based treatments. Additionally a 2009 study, again in China, determined that acupuncture alone could help patients who suffer from anxiety but cannot be chemically treated due to intolerable side-effects of medications.

In many Western schools of thought, anxiety disorders are considered to be dysfunctions in a person’s brain chemistry. An acupuncturist does not view anxiety as a brain dysfunction, but rather as an imbalance in a person’s organ system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this imbalance is called Shan You Si (“anxiety & preoccupation”), and is believed to affect the main organs: the Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver, and Kidneys. Each organ is related to different aspects of a person’s emotions.

For instance, worry is said to affect the Spleen, grief affects the Lungs, anger the Liver, fear the Kidneys, and lack of joy the Heart. If a person experiences one or more of these emotions over a long period of time due to lifestyle, dietary, hereditary and environmental factors, it can cause an imbalanced emotional state and lead to various anxiety disorders.

The role of an acupuncturist is to investigate the underlying causes of the anxiety by carrying out a thorough diagnostic evaluation in order to determine which organ system has been affected and is out of balance. The acupuncturist will then seek to restore the imbalance by inserting fine, sterile needles into the points correlating to those organs. Additionally, acupuncture helps to reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting a greater sense of well-being and balance.




Zhang (2010). “The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Affective Disorders, 124, 1-2, July 2010.

Wen (2009). “Combination of acupuncture and Fluoxentine for depression: A randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial”. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15, 8, August 13, 2009.

Weight Loss

If you struggle with your weight, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 30% of all U.S. adults meet the criteria for being obese.1

A Variety of Reasons:

Acupuncture works to control weight on various levels.

Release Endorphins – With diet changes, many people experience cravings, which can lead to binge eating. Cravings in the body are often due to a lack of endorphins. Acupuncture can help to balance out the cravings by helping the body to release endorphins.

Reduce Stress – An increase in the “stress hormone” cortisol can alter the metabolism. Through the release of endorphins, the “stress hormone” can also be neutralized.

Support Digestion – Acupuncture can support the body to generate an efficient digestive process.

Americans spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss products, but obesity is still on the rise. People are even turning to surgery as a weight loss option. This is a drastic measure and can cause unwanted side effects.

Unfortunately, excess weight is not just a cosmetic issue. Being overweight is a risk factor for many conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. The good news is that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk, and it’s never too late to get started. People seeking to address their weight concerns are turning to acupuncture as a natural and effective way to approach weight loss.

A traditional approach to healing

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) take a holistic, or whole-body approach to health. This ancient form of healthcare works to restore the balance and flow of the body’s Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy. According to TCM, the reasons why people gain weight, or find it difficult to lose weight, are numerous. Your acupuncturist is well versed in uncovering the root cause(s) or imbalances that have affected your weight.

Your acupuncturist will also take into consideration other factors that may have led to weight gain, including your lifestyle, and emotional and mental well-being. By taking your whole self into account, you and your acupuncturist can get to the root of your health concerns, rather than just treating the symptoms.

Other ways to support your path toward a happier, leaner you!
  • Exercise is an important component of any weight loss program. Adding aerobic exercise, weight training, and other types of exercise to your daily routine will have a positive effect on your weight and general health.
  • Diet is another important issue to consider. In general, a healthy diet is made up of unprocessed, organic foods, including a wide variety of whole grains and vegetables. Your acupuncturist may offer nutritional counseling designed for your specific needs.
  • Stress relief may also be a part of your treatment. By learning to lower stress and anxiety through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle exercise, you may lose weight more easily, and possibly stop destructive habits such as overeating.

What will my acupuncturist do?

During your first visit, your acupuncturist will take an extensive health history and perform various exams. At the completion of your first visit, your acupuncturist will provide you with a comprehensive diagnosis and an explanation of your treatment plan. Your treatments will focus on correcting any underlying imbalances in your body, and will also help to support you in reaching your weight loss goals.

Based on your unique symptoms, your acupuncturist will choose to concentrate on acupuncture points related to specific organs. For example, restoring balance to the flow of Qi in the Stomach can help promote good digestion and suppress an overactive appetite. Emotional issues, such as anxiety and stress, both of which can lead to overeating, can be addressed by balancing the Liver.

A partnership for better health

It is important to remember that acupuncture is not a “quick fix.” By working with your acupuncturist, and committing to long-term goals, you will experience positive changes in your overall health, including maintaining a healthy body weight.

In addition to acupuncture treatments, your practitioner may also recommend other lifestyle changes. Whether you want to lose a few pounds or a significant amount, people are turning to acupuncture as a natural and effective way to approach weight loss. By working together with your practitioner, you can help your body regain its natural balance—and start taking steps toward true health and vitality.

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity
U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia, Article – Obesity. 4/19/2004.
Komada, J., Article – Acupuncture for Weight Loss, 2003.
Pitchford, P., Healing with Whole Foods, North Atlantic Books, 1993.


Stress is a natural response of the body to the various demands we place upon it. In ancient times, our stress response, also known as our fight or flight response, provided us with energy to preserve life during difficult situations, such as an attack or threat by a wild animal. Unfortunately, modern day stress is considerably higher, more frequent and more consistent than what our predecessors experienced. Today, we do not have to look much further than our windows, or computer screens, to view various forms of stressors—everything from prime-time news and road rage, to the forty-hour work week, terrorism talk and cell phones.

However, stress is not necessarily always negative. There is a distinction between healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stressors are usually short lived and keep us alert and motivated, and support our body’s strength and vitality.

Our response to stress can either help or hinder our body’s ability to cope with these various stressors in our lives. Healthy responses to stress include appropriate physical exercise, good eating habits, positive thinking, adequate rest, and reaching out to friends and family for support. Unhealthy responses to stress include negative thinking, overexertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and isolation. These unhealthy responses can cause the body to work harder than it needs to and can trigger physical and mental health issues. Over time, ongoing stress and unhealthy responses to stress can actually be detrimental to our health.

Signs and symptoms of an overactive response to stress:
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Depressed immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint pain
  • Weight problems

Medical studies have shown that with increased and consistent stress, our white blood cells which defend our body against viruses decrease. This results in lower immune resistance, ultimately leading to physical disease and emotional instability.

Even if the stressors are no longer present, the body continues to keep the stress response active. This results in the depletion of our nervous system, lymphatic organs (spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes), kidneys and adrenal glands, which can pave the way for a wide variety of symptoms and signs.

There is Hope.

Practitioners of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been helping people cope with stress for thousands
of years. The ancient theories of TCM on how stress affects the organs are similar to those of Western medicine. However, TCM theory and treatment go far beyond treating symptoms and signs and address the root cause(s) of the problem.

One way that stress affects the body is by causing a depletion or blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”), especially that of the kidneys and adrenals. Qi is the vital energy or power that animates and supports the functions of the body. It flows through specific pathways, called meridians, and provides nourishment for the entire body. When Qi becomes “blocked” or the supply is inadequate, the body and organ systems become “stressed out” and our health is then compromised.

With acupuncture and TCM, the practitioner’s job is to support and restore the integrity of the various organs affected and depleted by the stress response, along with evaluating the quality and quantity of Qi.

Your acupuncturist may also suggest adjunct therapies to enhance treatment and speed healing. Proper eating habits, as well as exercise, stretching, movement and meditation practices, support and promote a balanced and healthy body, mind and spirit.

Acupuncture and TCM can provide a safe, effective and drug-free alternative for the treatment of stress.

Ways to combat stress:

  1. Get adequate sleep. Try for at
    least eight hours of restful and restorative sleep.
  2. Practice meditative exercises. Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga can help create a healthy awareness of the body and mind connection, freeing your mind
    of stressful thoughts.
  3. Eat a well balanced diet. Maintain a healthy diet with adequate amounts of complex carbs, vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fats.
  4. Have fun! Make time for relaxing activities, enjoyable hobbies and lots of laughter in your life.
  5. Breathe. Relaxed deep breathing is one of the most simple and easy techniques that can be used for reducing stress.
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