The wind is howling, the blossoms are bursting, and your sinuses, respiratory tract, and skin may be crawling. You’ve likely tried it all, from over the counter allergy medications to allergy shots to good ol’ Benadryl. But have you considered that lurking behind spring allergies is a root cause such as a weak digestive system, baseline fatigue, or even unresolved grief?
Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to an ordinarily harmless substance. This time of year that harmless substance tends to be pollen, however other common allergens include dust, mold, and pet dander. Common symptoms include swelling of mucous membranes, itching, sneezing or wheezing, and break outs on the skin. Western medicine is challenged to explain why allergies afflict some, while others seem to sail through exposure to allergens without a single sneeze.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers several plausible explanations as it considers how organ systems relate to one another, and therefore, how a weakness in one system can affect another. In TCM, the Lung organ system includes the sinuses, skin and immune system. When one is experiencing allergies, we take an entire review of systems to find clues as to what factors may be causing the Lungs to become weak. Once that is determined, we are often able to fix the underlying cause of the allergies
(referred to as the “root” of the problem) as well as address the symptoms (the “branch” of the problem). The most common causes of a weak Lung qi include:
* A weak digestive system
A weak digestive system has trouble assimilating nutrients properly. This often leads to a condition called “dampness” which causes considerable sluggishness in the body and negatively impacts the immune system. For these folks, it is recommended to avoid eating cold/raw foods and to reduce consumption of damp foods like dairy, sugar, and alcohol.
* A weak constitutional force often caused by over work, over stress, and over thinking
We are all born with a certain amount of gas in our tanks. When we use up our gas and do not learn to refill our tanks, we become very, VERY, tired. This fatigue makes it challenging to support the Lung organ system and thus one is more susceptible to having allergies. Sound like you? If so, try meditation and learn qigong to restore Kidney qi.
* Chronic constipation or intestinal problems
In TCM, the Large Intestine being blocked directly affects Lung function. Usually from excessive dampness and/or dryness, restoring healthy bowel function will allow the Lungs to be more efficient as well.
* Unresolved grief causing Lung qi deficiency
TCM considers that each organ system is correlated to emotions which, when imbalanced, can weaken organ function. Unresolved grief is one common emotion that directly weakens the Lungs. When stuck in a grief pattern, it may seem impossible to get out. Acupuncture, homeopathy, and effective counseling can help!
We are complex beings. Often, mapping a web and then untangling the web is the way toward resolving health problems and then maintaining wellness. With the help of health care practitioners you trust, your willingness to look deeper into your health picture will allow you to achieve your best health possible.