HAYFEVER: AN ‘ILLNESS LIKE A COLD, CAUSED BY POLLEN’. OR NOSE POOL (BI YUAN) IN CHINESE MEDICINE.
If there is one time in my clinic that I know I’m going ‘to win’ it’s against hayfever. It’s a horribly debilitating problem which is really easily remedied with acupuncture. It’s the only time I don’t book a follow up session with a patient (I’m keen on not overtreating) and 9 times out 10 another appointment isn’t necessary.
Hayfever sufferers each have a unique experience. It’s like most illness, you have a basic level of health and something else comes along and interacts with your mind and body to create a unique reaction. For some it’s a streaming, blocked or sneezing nose, for others it’s itchy eyes or mouth, a heavy head, headache or extreme fatigue.
Whatever variety it’s often dealt with by indoor confinement and or antihistamines both of which mask the problem and don’t get to the root of the issue. And can be pretty anti-social. A sledge hammer to crack a nut I often think.
But help is here in the form of Chinese medicine! Natural, side effect free and bloody hell, when it comes to hayfever, it packs a powerful punch.
HAYFEVER THROUGH THE CHINESE MEDICINE LENS
In Chinese medicine it always starts with a deficiency in Lung energy – this could be something handed down to you or something you’ve developed. It could be caused by cold or heat issues and other organs could be involved.
The Lung, in Chinese medicine, are our immune system. When hayfever strikes they can become overwhelmed by the extra work protecting the body.
There are around 10 different Chinese medicine ‘syndromes’ that could be responsible for your hayfever so it’s good to get a proper diagnosis. There are some common acupuncture points that we always use for hayfever so they’re always a good start. If you’d like to know which ones they are and how to locate them, pop me an email – there’s a self-care class being created soon.
Stress compromises our immune system, in Chinese medicine, this affects the Liver. When the Liver is unhappy it finds it hard to flow energy around the body in an orderly manner and issues like inflammation, itching, heat and involuntary movement such as sneezing can be commonplace.
Digestion too plays an important part in our immunity and our ability to absorb good nutrients. In peri/menopause it’s likely that we need a general boost of what Chinese medics call defensive qi and some extra support for our digestive system.
HAYFEVER. HISTAMINE. OESTROGEN. PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE.
Well, high levels of histamine are what cause most of the problems that come with hayfever. It’s a chemical that’s released by our immune system in response to a perceived invader (allergen). Histamine affects our muscle tissues, blood vessels & pressure plus our gastric secretions. It has an enormous impact on so much of our body.
High levels of histamine can cause blocked, runny, itchy or sneezy noses, puffy eyes, brain fog, headaches and even anxiety. It’s also known to create digestive issues, acid reflux, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss and trouble sleeping. If you have low histamine levels it could even be the cause of a low libido. Some of those issues sound familiar to you?
It has a direct connection to oestrogen, which, as know dwindles and changes during menopause. Oestrogen stimulates the release of histamine and histamine encourages the ovaries to create more oestrogen in a virtuous circle or not. So histamine issues will be at the worst around ovulation and perimenopause when oestrogen levels can fluctuate wildly.
I was staggered to find out the huge impact that histamine has on all aspects of our health and how, so many of the issues it causes could be confused with menopausal problems.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOUR BODY HOLD ON TO HISTAMINE
Your body are already producing more histamine than it needs when it’s experiencing long term inflammation, alcohol, foods that are high in histamine such as smoked meat and if you have gut issues or excess oestrogen.
REASONS WHY YOUR BODY ISN’T RELEASING HISTAMINE
Your body could be holding on to histamine because it doesn’t have enough of the right enzymes to clear it from your body. Or you might have a bacterial overgrowth in your gut which is stopping your enzymes doing their job.
It could also be because you’re deficient in Vitamin B6, you can find B6 in pork, chicken, some fish, oats and soya beans.
Hormones play their part – oestrogen excess is an issue but if you don’t have enough progesterone that could be a problem (if you feel better just after ovulation that suggests progesterone could be the problem.) And if you’re still taking hormonal birth control that might be causing problems too.
HRT. ALLERGIES AND ASTHMA
According to Magdalena Wszelaki, author of ‘Cooking for Hormone Balance’
“research shows synthetic hormone replacement is clearly linked to the onset of allergies and asthma. This is because the synthetic hormones are hard on the mast cells, causing them to make even more histamine. Bioidentical hormones tend to work better for women, fortunately. Be sure to do your homework if you are thinking about taking synthetic hormones.”
So if you’re taking HRT and you’ve noticed your asthma, hayfever or allergies have worsened it might be time to look at how you’re managing your menopause.
FOODS THAT ADD HISTAMINE
Lara Briden, author of the ‘Hormone Repair Manual’ suggests that the quickest way to reduce your histamine intake is to cut these histamine containing foods from your diet;
- red wine and champagne
- hard cheese
- smoked or canned fish
- soy sauce
- cured meats bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni
- dried fruit
- dried nuts
- bone broth and fish stock
- vinegar and fermented foods such as sauerkraut
- processed food
- leftovers older than 48 hours
- fermented foods
FOODS THAT REDUCE HISTAMINE
Beth O’Hara Functional Naturopath at Mast Cell 360, suggests that increasing the following foods can lower histamine levels:
- Fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, ginger, and oregano
- Herbal Teas: Peppermint, tulsi, lavender, ginger
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage, Green and Red
- Chinese cabbage
- Onions – any kind
- Romaine lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce
ACUPRESSURE FOR HAYFEVER
When I treat patients there are quite a few points I might choose depending on their systems but there are two easy to locate points that used frequently should bring you some relief.
Large Intestine 20 – known as ‘welcome fragrance’ – located either side of the the nostril can open the nose and expel wind (the pathogen in Chinese Medicine that makes you sneeze!) Apply pressure with the index fingers.
Bladder 2 – ‘gathering bamboo’ – located at the nose end of the eyebrow. Apply pressure with the thumbs.
How to acupressure – hold the points both sides at the same time, for around 3 minutes at least once a day for as long as it takes. Apply with enough pressure so you can feel it but not enough to bruise or cause pain.
USING ESSENTIAL OILS TO STOP ALLERGENS ENTERING YOUR BODY
Lavender is a wonderful oil for calm but also for seeing off the allergens. You can use it diluted (in a carrier oil such as almond oil or even coconut oil) around the eye sockets.
You can also use it in a wax under the nose to stop the allergens entering the nose and creating a problem.
My favourite though is combining several drops of lemon, lavender and peppermint and rolling on the soles of the feet. Menopoised Embrace Cool is just perfect for this!
TOP TIPS FOR REDUCING HISTAMINE
There are lots of natural things you can do to reduce your histamine levels.
* Cut out the things that increase histamine in your body alcohol, tea, green tea and coffee as they affect your guts ability to remove histamine
* Increase the foods that are low in histamine or help to take it out of the body
* Have a sauna or steam for 30 minutes twice a week to help sweat it out
* do yoga or meditation as they reduce your stress response – be aware some exercise can make things worse.
* Try acupuncture, acupressure or acuoil
In my clinical experience acupuncture can be extremely effective at reducing histamine. In Chinese medicine we work to soothe the liver and support the lungs and digestive system to rebalance the body.
My top tip would be to see a naturopath who can guide you through your issues. Dr google just doesn’t cut it for me.
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Acupuncturist & Founder of Menopoised
ABOUT JO DARLING, MBAcC LIC ACU
Jo is a Brighton-based Acupuncturist with a Bachelor of Science degree in Acupuncture from the University of Greenwich. Her training includes western medicine pathology, physiology and anatomy. She is also a member of the British Acupuncture Council.
Jo is passionate about women’s health. She has helped 100’s of women live healthier, happier lives. She has spent over 10 years practicing acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology and Chinese herbs.
As well as fertility, pregnancy and natural menopause Jo specialises in the treatment of breast cancer patients particularly those thrown into early menopause by chemotherapy. This work inspired Menopoised.
For more information about her work visit her website.
Menopoised® harnessses the power of Chinese medicine. Created by acclaimed women’s natural health specialist and oncology acupuncturist Jo Darling Lic Acu,
Menopoised® was inspired by the menopausal experience of her cancer patients. Using her extensive knowledge, practise-based evidence and expertise in Chinese Medicine she set about creating beautiful, effective, natural and side-effect free products to empower women through their natural life transition – menopause. Trials of the Menopoised Menopause Magnet have shown that over 80% of participants experienced a reduction in the intensity and frequency of their hot flushes and night sweats within a week. Menopoised products have been created to support a broad spectrum of issues, designed to help guide women through a
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