Each spring, the spectacular bloom of trees and flowers can make life miserable for people who suffer from seasonal allergies.
A picturesque hike can quickly become unpleasant if you get swollen, itching eyes or you cough and sneeze from pollens, dusts, grasses or mold spores. Sources of other specific allergic reactions are pet dander, latex, fragrances, dust mites or food.
Autoimmune issues and allergies: how the immune system can get off balance
It is the immune system that reacts by producing an allergic reaction. Fortunately, researchers are now studying the positive effects of acupuncture on your body’s immune cells. Current research shows that acupuncture can boost and modulate your immune system and thus reduce annoying allergy symptoms.
Acupuncture is also used for more serious medical diagnoses involving the immune system. For example, our immune system contains cells called lymphocytes. Certain lymphocytes are more commonly called “Th1 helper cells” and “Th2 helper cells.” The most ideal is a balance of Th1 and Th2 cells. In certain circumstances, Th1 and Th2 cells can overpower one another. Physical problems can arise if Th1 immune cells are more overactive or outnumber the Th2 immune cells. Additional problems can arise with too much Th2 immune cells activity vs. Th1 immune cell activity.
Below is a short list of common disorders associated with Th 1 helper overabundance or Th 2 helper overabundance:
Too much Th 1 (aka “Th 1 dominance”)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory bowel disease/Crohn’s disease
- Type I diabetes (previously known as juvenile onset diabetes)
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Graves’ disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Celiac disease
- Chronic viral infections
- Lichen planus
- Sjoren’s syndrome
Too much Th 2 (aka “Th 2 dominance”)
- Hayfever/Seasonal allergies
- Food allergies
- Ulcerative colitis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Chronic sinusitis
Th1 and Th2 cells can be naturally regulated by acupuncture towards the direction your body needs to go. Research shows that whether you need more or less of either, acupuncture can influence the body to balance the Th1 and Th2 scales.1, 2, 3, 4.
For more than 17 years, I have successfully treated the above-mentioned issues using acupuncture and, when applicable, Chinese herbs. If you have hay fever or allergies or are unable to be around pets because you wheeze, your eyes swell, or you have uncontrollable sneezing, please know that acupuncture can help your immune system function better so that you can feel better!
1 McDonald, JL, Cripps, AW, Smith, PK. (2015). Mediators, receptors, and signaling pathways in the anti-inflammatory and antihyperalgesic effects of acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 2015, Article ID 975632, 10 pages.
2 Xiao, QS, Ma, MY, Zhang, XS, Deng, MH, Yang Yan, Z. (2015). Effect of acupuncture on prognosis and immune function of sepsis patients. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Jul; 35(7): 783-786.
3 Kim, S K, Bae, H. (2010). Acupuncture and immune modulation. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical. Oct 28; 157(1): 38-41.
4 Ding, SS, Hong, SH, Wang, C, Guo, Y, Wang, ZK, Xu, Y. (2013). Acupuncture modulates the neuro-endocrine-immune network. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 107(5): 341-345. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hct196