Seasonal Allergies Part 1: Causes
Updated: Jun 4, 2021
The approach of spring is coming, and for some this rebirth in nature brings along the discomfort of seasonal allergies. Why think about allergy season now?
Seasonal allergies are best treated 1-2 months ahead of time.
Read on to see both the western and eastern perspectives of why some people are prone to these sensitivities. Look for Part 2 on how seasonal allergies can be treated.
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
With the longer days spring brings a cycle of pollination activity from tree, plants, grasses, and molds. Those with heightened sensitivities experience:
stuffy or runny nose
itchy, watery, puffy eyes
dark circles under eyes
possibly shortness of breath, wheezing headache
It's not a cold if it's happening the same time every year!
Why all the itchiness? Bio-medicine steps of an allergic reaction:
Contact with what is normally a harmless substance, like pollen
The body thinks this is harmful and produces Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies which are meant to get rid of anything seen as dangerous in the body .
IgE connects with immune system cells in the tissues and the bloodstream triggering a release of histamines to defend your body.
Histamine isn't the cause of allergies, but when it becomes abundant it causes the allergic symptoms of inflammation and itchiness
Chinese Medicine Perspective:
This overreaction of the immune system is seen in Chinese Medicine as an imbalance in one or more organ systems. While the allergy symptoms itself can be treated, eastern medicine will also explore why someone is susceptible. Below are a few common patterns that can underlie seasonal allergies. There may be one that is the most predominant, or there can be a combination of patterns.
Lung deficiency: The lung channel opens to the nose and there will be more nasal symptoms such as runny, itchy nose
The lung is connected to the fall season and allergy symptoms can be worse that time of year.
Fits of sneezing
Shortness of breath
Prone to getting colds/acute sickness
May be prone to asthma or eczema
Spleen deficiency: The Spleen is connected to overall immunity and when it's deficient causes the Lung function to be weaker. Symptoms include all Lung symptoms plus excess of fluids such as:
Mucus in nose or throat
Head feels stuffy or foggy headed
General signs of a weak Spleen like low energy, digestive sensitivities, over-thinking
The Liver is connected to the eyes in Chinese Medicine. This can be seen as itchy, red, watery, and inflamed eyes.
Spring is correlated to the Liver in Chinese Medicine. Increased allergies this time of year show a connection to the Liver.
Thinking in western terms, the Liver is responsible for breaking down histamine. Signs of too much histamine can point to a sluggish Liver.