When allergies hit, we need to reduce heat, strengthen the metal elements of the lungs and large intestine, and nourish the yin and blood. Let’s take a look at these strategies more closely:
Often times we do not realize that we are consuming foods that contribute to excessive heat in the body. Foods that are in the pepper family, some nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes (the exception is eggplant), and high amounts of carbohydrates (sugar and even large amounts of whole grains), can create excessive heat that stresses our immunity systems.
This is why often times, after the holidays, when we have consumed more sweets and items that are not a usual part of our diet, people often develop an even greater allergy reaction to cedar season in the central Texas area.
Foods such as cucumbers, burdock root, peppermint tea, leafy green vegetables and the healing vegetable bitter melon can all help reduce heat.
Also, qi gong movements that focus on activating the energy pathways that run along the center front of the body (ren channel) are helpful. Pulling Down the Heavens with a focus on pulling cool energy from the sky and moving the cool qi through center core as the hands descend is also helpful.
Raise your hands with palms up to the heavens and imagine grasping a ball of cool energy. Move this energy as your hands descend, through the center of your body with the intention of quelling and moving heat out of the body, by descending energy down through the legs and out the feet.
Strengthen the Lungs and Large Intestine
There are wonderful Chinese herbs, when mixed in formulation, are very effective for strengthening the lungs. Jie geng, chuan bei mu, and bai wei reduce bronchial swelling and strengthen the immunity system. Herbs such cang er zi, help the body to reduce a histamine response to pollen.
I usually create custom formulations for addressing allergy when pre-made tablets are not tolerated or strong enough to knock out the allergy reaction.
Also, the large intestine, a metal element organ that supports immunity, needs to be balanced by making sure that bowel movements are regular, especially if one is taking traditional antihistamines and decongestants, which tend to dry out the intestinal tract along with heat produced by allergic reactions. Adding rhubarb, to stews or soups is a wonderful way to create a natural and gentle cleansing effect of the bowels.
Also, dang gui, the herb traditionally used to balance hormones, combined with mei men dong, in formulation with other herbs, can help to moisturize the intestinal tract and promote greater elimination through the bowels, necessary for reducing toxins in the body that may be taxing the immunity system.
It is common for people to also develop sinus infections or bronchitis once an allergic reaction begins. There are wonderful herb formulations such as xian lian wan, which contains the powerful natural antibiotic huang lian and the stomach tonic mu xiang, a wonderful combination when nausea is present as a result of sinus drainage.
If you choose a traditional route of taking pharmaceutical antibiotics ask your herbalist for an immunity building formulation to strengthen the body so that your body does not develop the pattern of relying only on antibiotics to fight off infection. The herbs, along with an acidophilus supplement, will also help to counter the side effects of the antibiotic. Of course, acupressure/medical qi gong, can also help to complement other therapies and balance the immunity deeply. I recommend weekly visits during the allergy season to support a restoration of the body’s immunity balance.
Qi gong movements such as the lung movement from the Taoist Five set, are wonderful for balancing the immunity system gently. These movements are taught in our ongoing class which is moving from Saturdays at 3 pm to Saturdays at 10 am starting 1/28/2012.
Nourish the Yin and Blood
Turnips, beets, carrots and yams help to nourish the yin (fluid, blood and hormones) and blood gently.
Often times, traditional medications for allergies (including steroids, antihistamines, and decongestants) dry the yin, creating a greater tendency towards constipation, dry lungs, dry cough, high blood pressure, and dry mucus membranes. By increasing root vegetables, you help to nourish and restore balance to the yin level of energy.
Turnips in particular have the unique capacity to strengthen all twelve of the primary energy pathways or meridians–creating a powerful detox on the body that empowers the immunity system. If you do not like turnips, simply dice one small turnip and wrap in a cheesecloth and put into a stew with ingredients that you like for a soup. Cook your soup for at least 1.5 hours. A simple recipe is given below. At the end of cooking, remove the turnips. Your soup will contain the decocted essence of turnip without the flavor being overwhelming or unpleasant.
Qi gong movements such as the kidney movement from the Taoist Five or Ocean Qi breathing from the Five Treasures are also critical to nourishing the yin.
One small turnip diced and wrapped in a cheesecloth
8-9 cups of organic vegetable or chicken broth (low sodium)
3 large carrots chopped (nourishes yin)
1 cup of cabbage shredded (green cabbage but you can also use purple)–cabbage detoxifies the body and nourishes yin.
1/2 cup of diced purple onions (source of quercetin, natural antihistamine)
1 bunch of swiss chard chopped fine (source of quercetin, natural antihistamine)
2 burdock roots peeled and sliced into julienne strips (natural liver support)
1 cup of chopped cilantro (source of quercetin)
2 tablespoons of roasted garlic mix (immunity support and natural antibiotic)
1 can of Amy’s Bean vegetable soup (optional)
1 can of black beans strained and washed to remove excess salt or you can use black beans soaked overnight and rinsed (if using beans that are uncooked add 60 minutes to the cooking time)
In a pot, add the broth, beans, bean soup and other ingredients.
Bring to boil then cook for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally and checking fluid levels to make sure all ingredients are covered. Remove the cheesecloth with turnips before serving.