By Jessica Klein – Licensed Acupuncturist at Exhale Central Park South The weather is cooling down, the leaves are beginning to change, and pumpkin spiced lattes have entered our lives once again! This all sounds great — until your allergies arrive — and you’re left reminiscing on all those times you took simply breathing for granted. You may also be experiencing sneezing, congestion, red & itchy eyes, runny nose…not exactly our favorite fall fashion! These symptoms are our body’s attempt to eject the allergens from our system, and while antihistamines & decongestants may be giving you symptomatic relief, it’s not treating the cause! Acupuncture can offer symptomatic relief of allergies in just one treatment, and more long-term relief as we look to reveal the root pathology of the suffering. Diving a little deeper Allergies result from your immune system responding to a foreign substance, an allergen, that it perceives as harmful. For those who experience symptoms, this stimulates an increased production of a specific antigen (IgE) in an attempt to protect your body. When the allergen and IgE interact, it triggers the release of histamine & other chemical responses. Histamine is what causes the inflammatory response and allergy symptoms. So you see, histamine is just the end-product of this cycle and taking antihistamines will only address the surface level. The goal in acupuncture is to treat the underlying immune system imbalances (we’re more interested in the cause than the effect!). How Acupuncture Helps Acupuncture aims to restore balance within your body, stimulate your immune system, reduce inflammation, and eliminate congestion. In Chinese Medicine, the season in which your symptoms appear offers insight on the organ being affected. If you experience your allergies in the Fall, this is related to the energy of the metal element and associated with the lung & large intestine. The lung channel functions as our first layer of defense (skin) and the circulation of our protective energy, called wei qi. It’s best to begin treatment of your allergies the season before to boost your wei qi and prepare your immune system for what’s to come. Tips + Tricks Making lifestyle adjustments and recognizing when your body is adversely responding to the environment can offer symptomatic relief. Avoiding sugar, dairy, and cold foods will offer optimal results and help to decrease congestion and inflammation throughout your body. Incorporating local, raw honey (1 tbsp per day), warming foods (like ginger and cinnamon), onions, and garlic into your diet can help to boost your immune system and eliminate some of the congestion. Don’t fall into the cycle of allergies holding you back! Come visit us at Exhale for an acupuncture session, and experience the healing benefits.