Health Corner

lady struggling with hayfever


Common symptoms
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, red or watering eyes
  • Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • Coughing, caused by postnasal drip
Less common symptoms
  • The loss of your sense of smell
  • Facial pain (caused by blocked sinuses)
  • Headaches
  • Earache
  • Tiredness and fatigue

Chinese medicine differs from western medicine in that it is not interested in what is causing your reaction, but in how your body responds to it. In Chinese medicine terms, hay fever is generally seen as an attack on the Lung channel. The Lung is the Yin organ (as in Yin and Yang) most open to the elements as it has a direct connection to the outside world via the throat. Thus it is the most likely of the Yin organs to suffer invasions from pathogens, which is why coughs and colds are so predominant.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s ability to regulate itself, thus promoting physical and emotional wellbeing. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to relieve pain and congestion in people with hay fever by regulating levels of the allergic reaction to external allergens; reducing inflammation; increasing local microcirculation, which aids dispersal of swelling; and enhancing natural killer cell activity and modulating the number and ratio of immune cell types.


Again in Chinese medicine terminology, some people have underlying weaknesses which open them up to this kind of attack. Usually the weakness is found in the Lung, Liver or Spleen channels. Please note: I am talking about Chinese Medicine, not western medicine; please don’t go and tell your GP you have a lung/liver/spleen problem, she/he will not be impressed! But why is it important to know about this weakness? It’s important because once your symptoms have been brought under control and you can function normally again you should consider continuing with the acupuncture treatment, perhaps on a monthly basis or less, depending on your acupuncturist’s advice. If time/money does not permit this, consider having acupuncture treatment in the 3 months prior to the hay fever season. This gives acupuncture a chance to strengthen your body so that when hay fever hits, it will not be as extreme as previously. If you do this each year, you should gradually see your symptoms diminishing.

People’s responses to acupuncture vary, but often there is a 1-2 day delay between acupuncture treatment and the patient feeling the benefit of it. There are no side effects with acupuncture, and although it is not a cure, if you have treatment on a long-term basis, you can find that your allergy lessens each year.