Hay Fever: Prevent & Manage With Chinese Medicine

Although spring signifies new beginnings, it also marks the start of pollen season…
…and for most of us, this means one thing – hay fever.
Do you:
  • wonder each spring how bad will this year be?
  • think to yourself “why does this not happen to everybody”
  • keep applying the same methods for minimal results
  • not CONSIDER the options and endure the discomfort for months on end
The weather is warming up, flowers are blooming, and your body is…suffering.

Did you know that hay fever is most common in Australians aged from 25 – 44? That’s about 1 in every 7 Aussies having to bear the brunt of constant sneezes, irritated eyes, and more each year. Sustain Health

You may have noticed that you sneeze more when the seasons change… or when you’re cleaning the house (Spring cleaning).
That’s because there’s likely more allergens in the air—things that cause an allergic reaction.
Typically, this occurs around the springtime because plants and flowers are in bloom. Most people have a reaction to pollen from the different types of plants, found in the air. This is the likely cause of your body clearing itself of any foreign bodies.


Here are a couple of things you should know about hay fever in Australia…
Hay fever is mainly caused by grass pollen, which is blown by the wind. This pollen swirling around is great for plant growth but not to great for some of our bodies.
Other triggers for hay fever include:
  • dust mites
  • the weather
  • pets
  • and more…
…so an important aspect to consider is finding out what triggers your own reactions.
Hay fever, is also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It affects around 3 million of Australians according to statistics.
Hay fever is an inflammation or swelling of the nose lining and its symptoms include:
  • sneezing
  • nasal discharge
  • itchy and watery eyes
  • a runny or blocked nose 
  • itchy ears, nose, and/or throat 
  • headaches

Acupuncture is more effective than an antihistamine in treating hay fever… The World Health Organise (WHO)

Why Does My Body React This Way?

Woman sneezing into hankerchief
Once your body detects foreign particles in your system it naturally reacts. This occurs when pollen reaches the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract.
This reaction creates an immune response called histamines… and that’s when we start suffering those familiar symptoms.

Typical Western Treatment

Typically, western medicine prescribes the use of antihistamines or decongestants…
… but these medications are often associated with side effects. These effects include drowsiness and resistance suppression. 
When it comes to hay fever, pollen alone isn’t the culprit!
If it was, then everyone would be experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms.
Below are the typical western medicine options and hay fever medication over the counter:

Oral antihistamine

Most commonly used to stop chemical messenger histamines. Used for symptom relief like itchy eye and throat, watery eye, sneezing and runny nose. But generally they don’t relieve congestion.

Corticosteroid nasal spray

The most effective hayfever medication to relieve congestion. It narrows blood vessels, which reduces inflammation and swelling.

Anticholinergic nasal spray

This reduces secretion of mucous thus helping to stop a runny nose.


Introducing regular doses of the allergens to your body… to order your body to get use to the allergen over time.

A Chinese Medicine Perspective

hay fever treatment natural
Chronologically we believe that as the pollen arrives, our discomfort level grows.
To be honest, it’s a little embarrassing.
Breaking news—the pollen is not the issue it’s the Immune system.
Your immune system has the habit of reacting violently under pressure.
One of the things you will begin to understand… that is after just one symptom reducing acupuncture treatment
In most situations, we see an immediate, lasting response.
The real cause-effect issue lies when winter hits us and lays us out with our yearly cold and flu dose… just a few months back.
Our busy lifestyles severely tax our health reserves. Our work, family, socialising and all our other activities, leave us exhausted.
After the fatigue, illness, medication, overwork, etc… our immune system has very little left.
Acupuncture directly targets the site of the inflammation. It also strengthens the immune system , digestion and your lungs. We are now treating the cause and not just the symptom.

What Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Say?

Seasonal allergies and hay fever are actually triggered by imbalances or systematic deficiencies.
As discussed TCM sees hay fever and allergy rhinitis as an over reacted immune response from one’s body…
… and the constitutional weaknesses of one or more organs below:


The Spleen

The Spleen system includes our digestive health. The ability to digest and absorb nutrients from our food.

Spleen deficiency is one of the most common patterns that I see in the clinic among my hay fever patients. Dr Scott Ling


The Lung

The combination of a weak lung and poor immunity leaves one unable to defend themselves. Constantly suffering from respiratory illnesses leaves the lung system weak.

The Kidney

Kidney deficiency is very prominent, especially in modern society. Almost everyone is over worked and/or stressed out. In modern terms this can be understood as adrenal fatigue or ‘burn out’.

Treatment With Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

Chinese Herbs
When treating hay fever with TCM, we use a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
This is how we get control of the symptoms immedietly… and prevent the allergic reaction recurring.
Chinese medicine treatment is cumulative. It will reduce the symptom frequency and intensity over a course of treatments.
Quality of life will improve… you will start to experience:
  • better vitality 
  • better sleep 
  • better digestion-which means more energy
  • and more calmness and relaxation
Acupuncture is particularly effective for:
  • nasal passages congestion 
  • post-nasal drip
  • inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages
  • itchy nose and eye, etc
Most patients can get relief within the first session… and can be well under control within 10 sessions of acupuncture. Then only maintenance care for prevention of recurrence.
In just a few sessions, patients can reduce anti-histamines and corticosteroids. This of course depends on the severity of symptoms and state of health.
Chinese herbal medicine can address underlying causes of ones constitutional’s deficiencies.
These herbal formulas are customised for the individual. To achieve the best outcomes in the shortest time frame they can be tweaked on a weekly basis.
No two hay fever patients are treated with the same strategy… tailored to the individual conditions and constitutional’s deficiencies.
Tailor made herbs

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Acupuncture

With some severe cases we see:
  • recurring asthma
  • wheezing
  • secondary respiratory infections 
  • coughing headaches
  • and post-nasal drip
The peak season for hay fever in Melbourne is typically around September to December.
Our acupuncturists have conducted hundreds of treatments during these four months.
Below are a few more reasons to use acupuncture as your solution.

Build Strength

As discussed, the effect of acupuncture is always accumulative. The purpose of acupuncture is to train our body and immunity to not over react to allergens.



Acupuncture focuses on improving a person’s well being… instead of temporarily relieving the symptoms.
Acupuncture focuses on the root of the tree, not the branches of symptoms.
TCM holds that the over reaction of the immune system is the key cause of hay fever… this indicates deficiencies of our ‘qi’.


Natural & Safe

Acupuncture is completely natural and drug-free… a safe method for the treatment of hay fever.


What You Can Do?

Specific herbs for allergy symptoms may include:
  • Goldenrod
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Nettles
  • Eyebright
  • Jing Jie
  • Quercetin
The team at Sustain Health recommended anti-inflammatory remedies with antihistamine properties. These herbs can drain dampness in one’s nasal passage and sinuses and boost one’s immune system.
Dairy Products
Diet also plays a critical role in controlling allergies of the season. It’s best to avoid the following foods:
  • Dairy products
  • Desserts and sugar-laden items
  • Cold foods (which have the tendency to increase mucus build-ups)
As an example, frozen yoghurt or chocolate ice cream would be big no-nos during this season. With efficiency of digestion comes the reduction of mucus build up. This reduction reduces congestion and irritation.

Here Are Some Other Very Useful Ideas to Reduce Your Symptoms:

hay fever treatment


Avoid the pollen

Sensibly, people with allergies/food intolerances avoid their allergens or triggers. This applies in exactly the same way for people with hay fever. Spending the day outside rolling in the grass, on a windy, high-pollen day is not a smart option.
Hay fever may seem a small inconvenience , when spending time with others outdoors. However, exposing a person with hay fever to high doses of pollen may trigger a serious histamine response… this reduces their ability to tolerate even small amounts of pollen for the rest of the season.
Monitor the pollen count and avoid going outside on high-pollen or windy days. If travelling between locations, wear sunglasses and a scarf.

Flush out the pollen

Use Saline nasal spray and eye drops to remove pollen and other allergens. They are effective at removing allergens that have entered the system.
Use them morning, night and after being outside on high-pollen days. Don’t leave home without them.

Apply a heat bag

If your nose is congested but not runny – don’t blow it. If your eyes are itchy, don’t scratch them. It will just increase the histamine release and inflammation.
Heat can reduce inflammation. It will stop itching and reduce swelling and congestion. Make sure the heat bag is allergen and dust free. Or to make it easier, use the edge of a warm cup of tea.
Apply heat to:

The Eyebrows:

The inner and outer tips of the eyebrows are acupuncture points (Bladder 2, Yuyao, SanJiao 23). These points will help reduce symptoms. The entire eyebrow is in front of the frontal sinus… which can harbour lots of inflammatory bodies.

The temples.

This gives access to the acupoint TaiYang. This point reduces one’s vulnerability to the wind and soothes headaches.

The sides of the nose and cheeks.

This will reduce the inflammation in the nasal and maxillary sinuses. It will soothe the nose and eyes.
Heat is better than cold in this circumstance. Cold will cut off the circulation. Cold will make it harder for the blood supply to get rid of the histamine reaction. Cold or ice will also make the skin more sensitive – causing chills and increased sneezing.

Spring Clean

Vacuum and wipe down everything, especially under the bed. Get rid of all the dust and allergens that are keeping the body on high alert.
Suffering from hay fever?
Book in to see one of our highly experienced acupuncturists or call us for your hay fever acupuncture treatment on 1300 432 639

About the Author Sustain Health

Sustain Health is a multidisciplinary, wellness clinic located in South Melbourne, Australia. We believe good medicine is about looking at the whole being, treating the person and keeping them well. We view each patient as an individual affected by their unique lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions and attitude. Every individual's health needs a tailored approach to achieve better and sustainable medical solutions. Sustain Health currently offers its clients: * Fertility * IVF Support * Acupuncture * Chinese Medicine * Chiropractic

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