Can acupuncture alleviate allergies?

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure… In Britain, there are over a million asthma sufferers of all ages, and hay fever is at least twice as common. These facts underline the importance of allergies to the nation’s health. However, the problem is greater than this as there is growing evidence that asthma and allergies are becoming more common.

Extensive studies in general practice have shown that the number of people attending their doctors for treatment for both asthma and hay fever has doubled in the last 10 years. Some of these conditions can be managed by medications. Inhalers can alleviate wheezing, whereas antihistamines and steroids can reduce sneezing, itchy eyes and a blocked or runny nose. However, these do not provide long term cures for allergies sufferers.

Prevention of allergy develops into an advanced stage

Allergies and the immune system. Prevention is better than cure

The basis of allergy lies in the immune system which originally developed to protect us from invading viruses, bacteria and parasites. It is possible that, with the decrease in the importance of infectious diseases in the developed world, the immune system is reacting increasingly to other foreign substances, eg. Pollens. These, by themselves, are innately harmless, but have now become such an important cause of allergic diseases.

Suffice it to say that an allergy is a form of immunity in which the natural defence mechanism of the body has misfired. Instead of protecting the body, it actually cause disease. Allergy is, therefore, the inappropriate and hypersensitive response of the immune system to normally harmless substances.

Most allergy medications belong to the group of medications called Immunosuppressants. They work by suppressing the hypersensitive response of the immune system. However, as you can see from the diagram above, prolonged use can potentially cause immunodeficiency. This in turn renders patients more susceptible to infections and other illnesses.

The principle of traditional Chinese medicine

According to the natural law of Yin & Yang, it is the harmony (equal forces of Yin and Yang) that defines normality in nature. Hence, the essence of traditional Chinese Medicine, such as acupuncture, can be used to return the bodily functions, including the immune system, back to their state of normality.

If we apply this principle to allergies, having too much immunity may give rise to allergies. Therefore, it may be best to regulate immunity to a level that defines good health, rather than suppress it. After all, having too little immunity can potentially give rise to immunodeficiency.

When is the best time to seek treatment?

As always in our lives, prevention is better than cure. The best time for the immune system to be regulated is when it is about to become overactive. This is normally during spring, when tree pollen is active, and summer (grass pollen).That is to say before immune system sensitivity increases for seasonal hay fever sufferers.

I would recommend allergy sufferers to seek acupuncture treatment now before their seasonal allergies reach their peak. A course of four to six sessions can significantly reduce their suffering in comparison with previous years. What’s more, if the patient’s hyperactive immune system is regulated closer back to its normality, it might eventually even help them to take control of their sensitivity in the future. It is also possible that they may rely less on medications.

Summing up

A correctly balanced immune system is vital for a healthy life. Too little immunity can cause death, and too much immunity causes allergy. It is beneficial and sensible to choose a method of treatment that can normalise these extremes rather than just suppressing it from one extreme to another over a period of time.

Acupuncture certainly cannot be considered a cure for allergy. However, preventing the immune system from becoming oversensitive is an effective way of significantly reducing suffering. So, prevention IS better than cure.

More information and appointments

Acupuncture services at the Putney Clinic are led by highly experienced Simon Cheung. For consultation and treatment fees, visit our prices page. If you have any other enquiries or would like to make an appointment, call us on 020 8789 3881 or send us an email to