Yes, late spring is here and we are seeing the various allergies and asthma now. I wanted to write a little on this subject because many people may not know that acupuncture is not just for pain.

With the Japanese acupuncture that I now offer, I have been having fantastic results treating asthma and allergies. This is because I have a protocol for regulating the immune system so that it is optimized in its response to things. We use points near the elbows on the outside of the arm, points on the fronts of the legs, and points on the inner ankle, as well as some near the lymph nodes in the neck. The second phase involves using needles along the spine in the neck area, where there are also a lot of lymph nodes. This system comes from Dr. Nagano, whose style I primarily practice. Dr. Nagano was a blind man who practiced acupuncture for 60 years. Due to his blindness, he learned very well how to find acupuncture points and to evaluate the effects of his acupuncture on the patient by feeling the body with his hands. Kiiko Matsumoto, my teacher, has studied with him for over 10 years, and blends his work with many of her own understandings of the ancient books on Chinese medicine.

Of course, for the best outcome in acupuncture treatment, it is important for the patient to take a careful look at other factors in their life that may be contributing to allergies. The first of these is diet.

Many health care practitioners think that most people are at least somewhat sensitive to wheat gluten. This is certainly borne out by the fact that when I ask people to restrict their wheat intake, they find that many symptoms get better. So for allergies, we ask that people restrict their exposure to wheat, corn, dairy, and most importantly, white sugar. Studies have shown that soon after eating white sugar, people have an immune response that is measurable. This agrees as well with the opinions of many health care providers, who recommend no sugar in the diet for all kinds of problems.

In my practice, I strongly recommend that people eat no processed food. That means nothing instant, pre-cooked, or pre-made. Some of you are thinking, “then what can I eat?” Yes, it is true, the only things left for you to eat are meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, and dairy products. But you have to prepare them yourself. The artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives are often the culprits that lead to allergies, as our bodies just weren’t designed to be exposed to those things.

I don’t insist that people eat organic, but I do recommend that you look for the list of what fruits and vegetables are sprayed the most with pesticides and herbicides, and try to get organic ones of those. And of course, the best thing is to either grown your own veges and put them up, or purchase from your farmer’s market, and preserve as you can for winter. More on that in another blog entry.

The final important step in dealing with allergies is to examine the home for chemicals and other materials that may be aggravating. First, one must keep a very clean home, vacuuming regularly, dusting, reducing pet hair, and getting rid of all mold in the home. Mold is a real problem for allergic people. Get a new shower curtain liner. Go ahead and use bleach to kill mold on any surface that can take it. Keep good air flow around the home and use a dehumidifier if needed.

The other half of the home issue is looking for all products that may be toxic or overwhelming to the system. I insist that allergic people remove all scented air fresheners and potpourri. Look for all cleaning products that have an artificial color or scent such as 409 cleaner, janitor in a drum, pinesol, scrubbing bubbles, and the like. Replace all of these with simple cleaning elements such as borax, vinegar, baking soda, castille soap, Bon Ami, a little amonia, a little bleach, and some rubbing alcohol. Orange cleaners are also useful at times. As is some elbow grease, and trying to eliminate dirt before it builds up. Get a water softener to reduce soap scum.

For the laundry. Get rid of dryer sheets. These things make my eyes burn just thinking about them. And try to use the unscented laundry products such as XXXX FREE. Almost every brand now has a FREE version. I personally like the amway SA 8 laundry soap. Cleans great, economical, almost no scent. For dishwasher, I still recommend a commercial product, as some of the environmentally friendly ones just don’t work so well.

You can read all about natural home cleaning on the web.

And don’t forget to eliminate all personal care products that are scented such as deodorant, cologne and perfume, hairspray, even some shampoos and conditioners. These are less problematic but it is good to be alert to this. Most of the more natural brands from the health food store will be better in this regard, even if they do have some scent.

So, with a combination of acupuncture, dietary changes, and careful scrutiny and elimination of home products you have a real good chance of reducing or eliminating allergies all together.