Acupuncture for Allergies


By Olivia Peters-Lazaro, L.Ac.

Allergies in Chico are no joke!

“Help! I’m allergic to Chico!” This is a common lament I hear from people receiving acupuncture for their stuffy sinuses and itchy eyes. Living in a fertile valley with abundant pollen from grasses, trees, and flowers, allergies hit people in the area especially hard, and can prevent them from enjoying time outside. Commonly, people use over the counter antihistamines and decongestants to manage symptoms. If you are not getting enough relief from those medications, or have reasons (like being pregnant, or experiencing side effects) for not wanting to take them, you should try acupuncture! Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for the acute symptoms of allergies. Using acupuncture over time may prevent your allergies from becoming bad in the first place.

Acupuncture can provide relief

“Seasonal” allergies, or hay fever, can actually affect a person year round. The culprit is an overactive immune system response in the form of a histamine reaction. Histamines are released into the blood stream when you are exposed to irritants, or allergens. Histamine causes your body to get rid of or isolate an irritant: sneezing, increased blood flow to the area, and stimulating mucus membranes in the sinuses and eyes to flush out the pollutant. When you are “allergic” this process gets out of control and can make you miserable by affecting sleep, causing sinus pain and headaches, cough and general malaise. I treat people with acupuncture throughout the year for allergies. Controlled clinical trials on acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) have shown that acupuncture reduces acute symptoms by moderating the histamine reaction.

What is the best way to use acupuncture for allergies?

When your allergies are bad, get treated often: about three days per week. Once you are over the hump, you can reduce frequency. Typically ten treatments is an initial course of treatment. If you have a specific time of year when your allergies are bad, get treated for the two months before that time. This will help to optimize your immune system going into “your season.” With regular treatment patients report that their allergies are less severe, or that they are effectively managed with minimal to no medication, and periodic acupuncture.

Antihistamines for allergies have side effects including dry mouth and drowsiness, their use is controversial in pregnancy, and they may not deliver sustained relief. Conversely, acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and has beneficial side effects such as improved energy and reduced stress. A treatment with acupuncture may include specific points on your arms, legs, and face that clear congestion, reduce inflammation, and adjust your immune response. Typically people rest for 20 minutes to an hour. It shouldn’t hurt! Most people in my practice sleep or experience deep relaxation, and feel better when they get up.

My hope is that you recover from your allergies so that you can enjoy a healthy life, spending time outside.

Have something we might be able to help with? Book a treatment by calling  (530) 345-5300 or book online.

Lily Rothrock