Greetings All, Today I will provide a brief explanation as to if and how Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat “Nasal Allergies,” “Sinusitis” and/or “Rhinitis.” In Short, Chinese Medicine, to include mostly acupuncture and herbal medicine can provide significant transformations in people who deal with these nasal/sinus issues. Both Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine are quite affective at this from a healthy and natural approach.
There are Two ways we can talk about how acupuncture and herbs go about this. The basic division is first how they work to open the nose and remove the congested qi, which is called the “Branch” part of the treatment. The other way is how acupuncture and herbs work to correct the underlying cause or disharmony in the person that creates the possibility for particular people to experience allergies or congestion in the first place… this is called the “Root” cause.
The First part in which acupuncture and herbal medicine removes congestion and sneezing has a more simple explanation. Acupuncture and herbs work in this way by activating and moving energy in the channels or meridians that permeate the nose and sinuses to free up the blockage or obstructions that prevent the normal nasal breath, create excessive mucus production, and post nasal drip. One can look at this with the image of removing road blocks from a congested highway, or removing a clog from a drain to allow things to move and flow better.
The Second part of the treatment involves correcting “Root” causes or “disharmonies” or “imbalances” in the body that are the underlying cause of why a persons body responds and functions in this way. From this view there are a handful of causes that are common in people from a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective and each person can have varying severity and also combinations of these causes.
The First cause I will explain is a weakness or deficiency of the Lungs energy. The lungs provide the most external energy for the body, called Wei Qi. This is our external defense, or one can look at it as our immune system for acute sicknesses like the cold and flu. When this energy is weak then people tend to get sick more often, and also allergens such as pollen, dust, dander, mold, etc., create a more dramatic effect on these people then a person that would have strong Wei Qi or Lung Energy. This is a common cause in people that have classical Nasal “Allergies.”
The Second root cause I will speak on is the concept of dampness and phlegm. Either due to poor digestion, excessive ingestion of rich foods or drink, or other reasons, some people tend to accumulate dampness and phlegm in the body (dampness is like phlegm but less thick and more movable). This concept is slightly more easy to grasp because we can see it. It is the phlegm and mucus that is produced in excess in the sinuses and nasal passages as well as the lower lung organ as in asthma and cough. Mucus is a normal product of mucus cells in the body, but some people produce too much. These people tend to notice more congestion or phlegm in the nose and/or lungs when the diet is more rich, such as dairy, milk, ice cream, etc., and when the person is tired. Also symptoms tend to be worse in the morning and better with movement because the dampness or phlegm settles and accumulate when the person is not moving.
A Third common cause is a build up of heat in the body, especially in particular areas such as the liver, large intestine and stomach meridians. This is a slightly harder concept to grasp. Heat builds up in the body whenever there is excessive stress, high paced lifestyle, frustrations, excessive rich AND hot/spicey diet, febrile (fever) sicknesses, and things of this nature. When there is a certain amount of heat affecting the nose and sinuses this is what causes the sinus congestion that is stuck, thick, and yellow or green in color. The color (vs white or clear) is the indication of heat build up. People that experience this are the ones that have more chronic sinusitis with infection, or by means of an acute “cold or flu.”
These are only a few common examples of disharmonies that create the root cause of nasal allergies, or sinus issues. This was obviously a very basic description meant to give you a taste of how these things are viewed and dealt with in Chinese Medicine as much information and other patterns are missing. Another fact to consider is people rarely have one single pattern. Most people are a combination of multiple patterns at varying severities and acupuncture and herbal medicine are quite effective at making people feel better by taking care of the branch symptoms, as well as, and most importantly correcting the underlying disharmony which is the reason for the experienced discomfort. Again, as always I hope this finds you well and gives a clarity on this particular topic. Always feel free to call or email me if there are any additional, specific questions.