Hay Fever/ Seasonal Rhinitis

23 March 2010

Spring is allergy season.  Fortunately, Chinese medicine offers an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis by providing both immediate and lasting results mainly in the form of herbal prescriptions for adults as well as children.  The benefit of Chinese medicine is that it not only treats acute signs and symptoms but it also strengthens the individual's immune system to minimise or prevent further occurrences. 

In a 2004 study published in Allergy, 52 patients suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) were assigned to either an active treatment group or a control group. The active group received acupuncture treatment, once a week and Chinese herbal medicine three times daily for six weeks.  The control group received acupuncture on non  acupuncture points and a “non specific” herbal medicine formula.  The results showed improvement in 85% of patients in the active group compared to 40% of the control group (Sept; 59(9):953-60).


Living Environment

  • Attention should be paid to climatic changes. In the winter and autumn especially, it is important to avoid staying in environments with extreme temperature changes.
  • Exposure to stimulants should be avoided.  The living environment (home) should be cleaned regularly, especially areas with carpet and cloth curtains where dust and pollen collect.
  • Tree and grass pollens can easily enter the home through open windows.  Placing a clean sheet over the bed during the day that is removed at night can help reduce evening symptoms.
  • Avoid leaving laundry outside to dry for excessive lengths of time to collect pollen.
  • Moderate and regular exercise will help strengthen the body's resistance.

Dietary management

From a Chinese medicine perspective, foods and drugs come from the same source, so food choices can significantly affect health.

During attacks of allergic rhinitis foods that promote sweating such as spring onions, ginger or cilantro (fresh coriander) can help alleviate symptoms.

In general excessive consumption of processed, cold, greasy and spicy foods should be avoided. Known seafood or other food triggers should obviously be avoided.

Foods which strengthen the body and build up the resistance should be eaten:  Chinese date, walnuts, Chinese yam, dried mushrooms and mutton.

Children with allergies should avoid sugar, raw foods, and cold drinks and fruit juices.

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