Acupuncture Ecology


An External/Internal Approach

Allergy season comes around every year. In Chinese medicine, allergies are a complicated combination of internal deficiencies, usually of a chronic and longstanding nature, and external irritants. With complicated conditions, usually a multi-pronged approach is best.

Allergies come from a hyperactive immune system. Immunity can get hyperactive when it’s overloaded and confused. This can happen because the quantity and intensity of stresses is too great, or because the intrinsic energy of the body is too weak to deal with the stresses, or a combination of the two. So, think of allergies from two different angles: external, and internal.

Some allergies may seem very clear-cut; if you’ve got allergies, but you know you’re allergic only to one particular kind of pollen, congratulations, you’re lucky. But even in such a case, it’s possible that you’d develop more allergies, and it’s also possible that there are other immune hyperreactions going on under the surface. Why is that? Partly it’s because the variety of environmental stressors these days is so much greater than before. Everything from the type of household cleaners that we use, to the chemical additives in processed food, to the substances leaching from plastics that surround is in everyday objects—all of these things are very new to the human body, and not something that’s particularly easy to sort out. We might be exposed to a large number of things since childhood, and only slowly develop what turns out to be an allergy to a particular type of grass. But that grass allergy is just the tip of the iceberg.

So what can you do? Start by taking stock. Read ingredient labels. Pay attention to what’s in your food and in your cleaning agents, which are two of the things most commonly used and most likely to be long-term culprits. The general principle is, the more natural, the more likely a substance is to be easier on the body.

Then, begin carefully eliminating things. Replace your laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid with more natural types. Eat less processed food and more whole foods. This, on top of avoiding any allergens that you know affect you, will go a long way for your recovery, in the long run.

But that only covers the external aspect of an allergy. By the time your immune system habitually overreacts, of course, your body has already developed a degree of deficiency, an inability to read and process influences from the environment adequately. So the other side of this is to rebuild your body’s energy so that you’ve got the internal resources to deal with stressors.

Practically speaking, this means being moderate in your food intake and how well you digest. It means breathing easily and taking in good air. It means drinking good water and not a lot of other bad stuff. It means making sure your bowels move regularly. It means going to bed at a decent hour and getting good night’s sleep. It means keeping at a healthy level of activity, and moderating the amount of stress in your life. It means acknowledging traumas as they occur, and taking care of yourself in their aftermath.

By the time you’ve reached a more severe level of allergic response, though, these things may not be enough. That’s when you need more powerful and specific interventions, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, or qigong.

But as I mentioned above, not even these techniques alone are as powerful as everything put together. It’s okay to let others show you how to tune yourself, as long as you participate in the tuning process.

In any event, with allergies, expect a longer resolution with many nuances—the more complicated and longstanding the allergy, the longer the recovery. But recovery is still possible.

For more information on managing your recovery from allergies, contact me for a free consultation.