Allergic Rhinitis: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology and Diet

The Asthma Society of Ireland is the national charity representing and supporting asthma patients.

Approximately there are more than 470,000 children and adults with asthma in Ireland that suffer from seasonal or perennial allergies, also known as hay fever.

These allergies occur when the immune system overreacts upon exposure to allergens, substances as trees, grass, or flower pollen. They are usually seasonal as depends upon the pollen months. This is the reason why the disease may be diagnosed by the timing of symptoms since grass, tree or pollination occurs at predictable times, or symptoms may appear in association with pet exposure.  


On the other hand, perennial allergies are more persistent, year-long allergies that are triggered by environmental factors such as house dust, mould, animal dander, dustmites, and air pollution.

In both scenarios, the immune system responds to these otherwise harmless substances as invaders, similar to how it would react to viruses or bacteria. It produces an antibody against the allergen called immunoglobulin E (also named IgE), which triggers the release of inflammatory chemicals -histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins. 
  • Histamine: responsible for the symptoms of itchy, runny eyes and nose and sneezing.
  • Leukotrienes: responsible of excess mucus production.
  • Prostaglandins: responsible of inflammation.
On a general basis, the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is made by clinical history and evidence of specific IgE antibodies by skin testing or by the presence of serum specific IgE detected in the laboratory.

Believe it or not, our modern medicine does not completely understand why some people get allergies while others don't, but there are a few theories:
  • Overuse of antibiotics: causes destruction of the normal flora in the gut.
  • Ultra-hygienic society:  a lack of exposure to bacteria, viruses and allergens may prevent the normal development of the immune system. However, a child's immune system needs education, just like any other growing organ in the human body. 
Your GP usually will prescribe you antihistamines block histamine release to improve symptoms of itching, runny nose, and sneezing. Decongestants relieve sinus congestion (feeling of fullness and pressure)

Unfortunately all those prescriptions cause side effects such as drowsiness, insomnia, racing heart, increased blood pressure and irritability depending upon the drug prescribed.

Natural prescription

Dietary recommendations must be focused on supporting a healthy immune function. Therefore your diet plan must include foods such as:
  • Fruits and Vegetables: provide antioxidants that support healthy immune function.
  • Fish, seeds and nuts: contain healthy fats that help reduce inflammation.
  • Peppers, onions and garlic: help reduce mucus.
Foods to avoid: mucus-forming foods such as diary products, refined flours, saturated and hydrogenated fats.

There are also some recommended supplements to digest along with your diet such as:
  1. Butterbur: an herb also used for prevention that reduces inflammation and has antihistamine effects. 
  2. Moducare: a mixture of plant sterols and sterolins that helps balance the immune system. 
  3. Probiotics: they help replenish gastrointestinal flora, which is important for immune function.
  4. Quercetin: a flavonoid with antihistamine properties.
  5. Vitamin C: helps reduce histamine production and works well with quercetin.
  6. Vitamin E: has antioxidant effects and has been shown to reduce allergic response and nasal symptoms. However studies also recommend avoiding vitamin E products if you have a known allergy.
Dosages and recommendations must be established by your therapist, doctor or practitioner.

Allergic Rhinitis from a Chinese Medicine perspective

Allergic Rhinitis is mainly categorized as liu bi ti (runny nose), bi sai (nasal congestion) or pen ti (sneezing). 

Allergic rhinitis happens when there is a natural endowment insufficiency in the patient, an habitual vacuity, due to faulty diet, fatigue or internal deficiency that allows the external invasion of "Wind evils". These wind evils carry on the pathogen that cause what Western Medicine defines as allergic rhinitis.

Pathogenic Winds invade the body through the lungs and/or skin. Lungs are usually the first "victim" as they are the delicate viscus entering through the nose, the external orifices of the lungs.  

In a regular basis, all patients with allergic rhinitis are believed to have hidden phlegm in their lungs which only becomes apparent when lung function is damaged by the presence of some pathogenic Qi (e.g external wind evils).

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology is very effective to treat this condition. However appropriate Chinese dietary therapy is of very important: avoidance of foods which damage the Spleen as well as foods that engender sticking fluids (e.g phlegm).

Foods to avoid:  raw, cool, and cold foods; foods that cause phlegm (diary products, sweets, meat).

Recommended foods: warm and possibly mildly hot; green onions, oats, aniseed, ginger, coriander, thyme.

Get in touch with us in order to help you get rid of your allergic asthma. Phone us today at 089 400 5106 or send an email to for booking an appointment.