Allergic reactions and the immune system are inextricably linked. In fact, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system that occurs when the body “attacks” a foreign substance (allergen) like pollen or a food. Most of the symptoms of an allergic reaction are the immune system's attempts to rid itself of the allergen (nausea and vomiting) or the result of the body's fight against the “invader” (itching or a runny nose). Strengthening the immune system can diminish allergic reactions.
When it comes to managing allergies, the goal in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is to address the causes, treat the whole person and help balance the immune system. One of the important points in TCM is allergic load, which means that an exposure to a single allergen may not trigger a reaction, but exposure to multiple allergens at the same time may do so. Managing allergic load when the patient is allergic to both milk and pollen by avoiding milk during pollen season can help alleviate symptoms.
Western or allopathic medicine focuses on treating symptoms (like decongestants for pollen allergy) while TCM is designed to strengthen the immune system and make it less likely to react to the presence of an allergen. An acupuncturist, such as Dr. Brendan Armm might treat spleen or kidney deficiency, for example, to help strengthen immunity. Dietary modification and herbal formulas are also used for both symptom management and to strengthen immunity.
Although some food allergies cause an immediate and even life-threatening response, others take hours or even days to appear. What is sometimes called a food allergy may actually be an intolerance; although it causes uncomfortable symptoms, it is not a true allergy. Lactose intolerance, which can result in abdominal gas, bloating and diarrhea, is a good example of an intolerance rather than an allergy. Careful analysis of food intake and changes in diet can often eliminate the problem. In Chinese medicine, Dr. Armm works on building the immune system and digestive health to treat symptoms related to food allergies, and oftentimes the underlying cause of the intolerance, sensitivity or allergy.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!