Each year many people suffer sneezing, running nose, congestion, sinus pressure, red itching eyes and headache. To alleviate these symptoms, people often rely on medications like antihistamines, nasal decongestant sprays, and cortisone-based inhalers.
While these drugs provide temporary relief, they do not address the underlying cause of the disease. Moreover, they can lead to side effects such as drowsiness, dryness, dizziness, and digestive discomfort.
Therefore many people look for some alternative way to help alleviate the alloy symptoms of hay fever. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have shown positive effects in relieving hay fever symptoms.
Hay Fever – Chinese Medicine View
According to Traditional Chinese medicine theory, hay fever is similar to cold and flu symptoms. It is attributed to a deficiency in Wei Qi (defensive energy) and the invasion of external Wind pathogens.
Hay fever is typically a seasonal condition. It often affects people during spring and early summer when Wind energy is prevalent. In Chinese medicine, Wind can be interpreted as allergens like pollen, bacteria, and viruses. When Wind attacks the body, it triggers symptoms such as sneezing, itching in the eyes, nose, and throat, a runny nose, tearing, and other signs of hay fever.
However, Wind alone is not the sole cause of hay fever. Recurrent hay fever each year is often associated with Wei Qi deficiency, characterised by a weakened immune function and a low defensive energy.
Acupuncture Chinese Herbal Medicine for Hay Fever
- Firstly, aim to balance and unblock the energy to alleviate the symptoms.
- Secondly, focus on treating the root cause of the disease by strengthening the body’s defensive energy – Wei Qi, through acupuncture, moxibustion, and Chinese herbal medicine.
- Additionally, we provide dietary and exercise advice to help boost immune function.
This comprehensive approach often leads to significant improvement and eventual relief from hay fever symptoms.
Common herbal formula
One commonly used formula in our clinic to enhance Wei Qi (defensive energy) is Yu Bing Feng San (Jade Curtain Powder).
Yu Bing Feng San (Jade Curtain Powder)
The main ingredients are:
- Huang Qi (Astragalus)
- Bai Zhu ( Atractylodes)
- Fang Feng (Saposhnikovia)
Acupuncture for hay fever
Research suggests the following benefits for hay fever sufferers:
a) Symptom Relief
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2013 conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 422 patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever). The study found that acupuncture led to a significant reduction in the severity of nasal symptoms compared to sham acupuncture or no acupuncture[^1].
b) Decreased Reliance on Medications
Another study published in Allergy in 2008 investigated the effects of acupuncture in reducing medication usage in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis. The study revealed that acupuncture significantly reduced the need for antihistamine medication compared to a control group[^2].
Chinese herbal medicine for hay fever
Chinese herbal medicine, which utilizes plant-based formulas, has been used for centuries to address various health conditions, including hay fever. Research indicates the following potential benefits:
a) Symptom Management:
A systematic review published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2015 analysed several randomised controlled trials on Chinese herbal medicine for allergic rhinitis. The review concluded that Chinese herbal medicine showed promise in relieving symptoms, improving quality of life, and reducing the need for conventional medications[^3].
b) Anti-inflammatory Effects:
Some Chinese herbal formulas used in the treatment of hay fever have demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. For example, a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2018 found that a specific Chinese herbal formula reduced airway inflammation in a mouse model of allergic rhinitis[^4].
It is important to note that while the above studies show promise, more research is needed to further establish the efficacy of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for hay fever, including long-term effects and comparison to standard treatments.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine offer potential benefits for individuals suffering from hay fever. Scientific research suggests that these traditional therapies may provide symptom relief, decrease reliance on medications, and improve overall well-being. However, further studies are necessary to solidify the evidence and better understand the mechanisms of action. If considering acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine for hay fever, it is advisable to consult with a qualified practitioner experienced in TCM.
1. Brinkhaus B, Ortiz M, Witt CM, et al. Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(4):225-234.
2. Xue CC, Thien FC, Zhang JJ, et al. Effect of acupuncture in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(6):1055-1066.
3. Zhang J, Liu Y, Liu J, et al. Chinese herbal medicine for allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015;136(4):933-943.
4. Lv H, Liu Q, Wen J, et al. Therapeutic effects of Qingfei Xiaoyan Wan on airway inflammation in a mouse model of allergic rhinitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2018;212:30-39.
5. Min He, Weishan Qin, et al. Acupuncture for allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Medical Research volume 27, Article number: 58 (2022)