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August 2, 2010

Using Acupuncture To Treat Asthma and Allergies
David Stokke, MS, LAc

There is an increasing body of evidence in western medical literature about the usefulness of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for the treatment of respiratory ailments such as asthma and allergies. This should be no surprise as Chinese medicine has been practiced and refined over the course of a few thousand years, and with Chinese medical practitioners (Acupuncturists and Herbalists) utilizing such tried and true techniques, the beneficial effects are often seen quite quickly, usually within the first few weeks of treatment.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective in treating respiratory ailments in people of all ages. In fact, young children often respond much more quickly to treatments, and generally require minimal intervention with the practitioner using only a few needles. Often these are just tapped in and immediately removed.

Interestingly, aside from the nasal and pulmonary symptoms of asthma and allergy sufferers, there are often coexistent digestive problems such as poor appetite, abnormal stools, bloating and abdominal pain, as well as skin problems like eczema and hives. All these symptoms are reduced when a person is treated with Chinese medicine using acupuncture, herbs, and minor lifestyle and dietary modifications.

Treatments are focused not only on resolving the lung and sinus issues, but also on strengthening the digestive system. In fact, it is usually more important to strengthen the digestive system in order to resolve problems in the lungs and sinuses, because often a weak or compromised digestive system is the root of the problem.

The concept of improving your health by eating foods that are healthy for you is not a new one. Generally one is advised to stay away from or minimize sugars and sweets, fruit juices, dairy products, nuts and oily foods, and excess amounts of chilled or uncooked foods. Add to this a healthy portion of vegetables and a conservative portion of protein at least three times a day. Then add a dose of acupuncture once a week, and herbal medicine daily, and one is on the road to breathing freely. Subsequently, skin problems are often resolved when the lung and stomach problems have stabilized. The lung and digestive issues were likely the root of that problem.

There has also been an increase in the number of cases of asthma, allergies, and sinus infections reported in this country. Unfortunately, most people who suffer from asthma also have severe allergies. The quality of the air we breathe plays a large part in this, our lungs increasingly compromised with smoke, smog, dust, molds and pollens. Aside from keeping a very clean house, using cleaning products that do not have fragrance or harsh chemicals, and reducing one's exposure to common irritants (like smoke, perfume, soaps, shampoos and lotions with fragrance, laundry soap with fragrance and fabric softeners), air quality is something many of us have little immediate control of.

Equally important though are the foods that we eat. This is something we can control. Some have suggested that our children are somehow less healthy than they used to be. This is no surprise because many of us adults are not very healthy either. With many of us relying on convenience over quality when it comes to the food we eat, our bodies are suffering with the lack of nutrients a convenient diet provides.

When an individual is treated with Chinese medicine, the amount of pharmaceuticals they need is often reduced, and some are able to come off of them entirely. It is also important to note that the results of the treatment are not transient. Some respond very quickly with only a month of weekly treatments, others may take a few months. Many of the people that I have treated have beneficially responded after just a short period of treatments and have remained healthy with minimal wheezing or reactive airway disease symptoms.

Given the increase of asthma and allergy sufferers, techniques such as acupuncture which offer benefits but no risks are important tools for doctors to be aware of and utilize. Some individuals have truly serious reactive airway disease and require western medication for survival. Chinese medicine may minimize their symptoms and help reduce their dosages. There are also a large number of people with much less severe symptoms who respond dramatically to treatment.

For more information contact:
David Stokke, MS, LAc

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