Natural remedies: Seasonal allergies may require a year-long plan

May 2018 Posted in Other

By Melissa Wagoner

There is more to treating seasonal allergies than simply popping a pill after the onslaught of symptoms has already begun, according to the three acupuncturists and experts in Eastern Asian medicine at White Oak Wellness in Silverton.

“In Chinese medicine you have to look at the whole calendar year,” owner Sahaji Katie Rablin explained. “You have to treat the season before or even the year before.”

Each allergy treatment session at White Oak starts with a series of questions aimed at defining not only what the offending allergen is but also determining if there are other underlying conditions that are causing a patient’s immune system, or Wei Qi as it’s known in Chinese medicine, to falter.

“When they come in we ask about the environment they live in, their diet and their history,” Haekyung Dixon Kim, an acupuncturist with a master’s degree in Chinese medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland said.

“Your Wei Qi is like you’re wearing a coat – and there are different thicknesses,” she added.

Traditional Chinese medicine suggests the thicker the “coat” the more protection it offers. Factors such as unbalanced hormones, poor sleep and insufficient medical treatment may work against a healthy Wei Qi.

Alternatively, eating a good diet, receiving acupuncture and exercising may go a long way toward replenishment.

“We want a down parka,” Rablin laughed. “We try to educate people that it’s not a one-stop shop. How we act year-around affects us.”

Although most environmental allergy sufferers notice a flare up in the spring, allergies can happen any time of the year and can be the effect of molds, dust, or even winter pollination – as is the case with hazelnut trees. Allergies may spike in the spring due to what is known in Chinese medicine as “dampness.”

“In the winter people eat a lot of cold day foods – dairy, cereal, smoothies – then there is a thaw and that can create a lot of mucus,” Rablin explained. “In the springtime the mucus has to come out
of the body.”

Additionally Kim noted that people often rush toward lighter summer apparel too early in the season. She suggests carrying a jacket or scarf in order to maintain body temperature to dispel dampness and keeping healthy gut flora active. She explained that just a two degree bump in body temperature may improve digestive health.

Although environmental allergies are due to factors outside the body, what goes into the body can make a big difference. A diet high in refined sugar, a substance that causes chronic inflammation,
can reduce Wei Qi, as can allergy- causing foods.

Even with a healthy immune system the body cannot always fight off the season’s allergic affects. Rablin suggested that a trip to an acupuncturist can be a fast way of dealing with symptoms, especially for children who tend to escalate into the zone of infection very quickly.

“It’s hard for kids to articulate their symptoms,” Rablin said, “but they respond very quickly.”

Another bonus of early introduction to Eastern Asian medicine is the education component these practitioners infuse into each session.

“[We’re] teaching adults and kids to observe their bodies,” Rablin said. “Eastern Asian medicine is such a holistic way of looking at the body.”

Fedosia Masaligin Bodunov – another graduate from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and the newest addition to the White Oak Wellness team – said that the methods used in this type of care can often seem confusing to new patients.

“Sometimes it won’t necessarily make sense,” she said, “but we’re working the whole body – not just the nose. Where it hurts isn’t always where we’re treating but it’s all related.”

Rablin agreed, adding that each session is tailored to the individual.

“Five people could come in with allergies but they’ll all get a different formula,” she said.

All three practitioners warn that, although acupuncture may be one way to start healing from the effects of seasonal allergies, it is only a beginning.

“People want acupuncture and herbs to override their lifestyle,” Rablin said.

She stressed that it is important to heed the take-home advice that is offered in order to receive the full benefits of the treatment and continued results.

“We’re teaching people to be their own healer because we’re teaching people to listen to their own body,” Rablin said. “I think if there was wide access to acupuncture and East Asian medicine the world would be a different place.”

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