Hayfever – Linking this Spring allergy with digestion

By Jasmine Ling
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist

If you were to ask any Melbournian, they would most likely say that they know it too well and sadly do suffer from it, whether it is themselves or their family. Hay fever is a common respiratory condition caused by allergens in the environment, these allergens then trigger troublesome immune responses which may present as some of the following symptoms and/or signs:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Decreased sense of smell or taste

(Source: Symptoms and signs taken from mayoclinic.org)

What then can Chinese medicine do to help?

Chinese Medicine is all about harmonising the body according to the way nature intended. Where the yin and yang of the body are to compliment each other. However with the current modern day lifestyle we all live, our bodies are struggling to cope with the added stress of working late, poor sleep and our lack of physical exercise. According to traditional Chinese medicine, hay fever is closely correlated to our digestive health. Where our body’s natural defence stems from what we eat and how we treat our bodies.

When our gut is healthy, our immunity is then able to defend itself from the natural elements of the wind and pollen, which are the causes of hay fever. Our immunity can be referred to as our ‘wei qi’ in Chinese medicine. Our ‘wei qi’ is governed by our spleen*, and can be depleted through a poor diet, stress, anxiety, worry and a lack of physical exercise.

To strengthen our ‘wei qi’ we need to nourish our spleen, the best way would be to eat foods that place less strain on our spleen. The spleen governs the digestion of the body, which transforms the food we eat to energy. Therefore foods that take less effort to digest will be most beneficial for our bodies to transform that food into the energy required to defend our bodies from external pathogens that can cause hay fever. Chinese dietary therapy states that cooked foods are most beneficial, where the longer the food is cooked the easier to digest, such as soups and stews. To avoid further damage to our spleen, it is advised to reduce consuming too many raw foods such as tossed salads, and to avoid heavy foods such as greasy deep-fried foods.

Note: All mentions of organs are from the view of traditional Chinese medicine. Rather than the capabilities of the physical organ, it is about the flow of the organ’s channel.


You can find more articles like this in our Spring 2015 issue e-magazine!
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