Seasonal allergies doesn't have to mean daily medication and avoiding outdoor activities. With the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine, you don't have to suffer through the beginning of spring.
It happens suddenly...you are going along just and BAM...sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes...allergies! Also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children have seasonal allergy symptoms.
There are some tricks to help minimize your exposure to allergens...
An over the counter antihistamine medication may also be used, but they tend to be very drying in the body and can cause bleeding and severe headaches, dry mouth, dry skin, and sensitivity to the sun. These medications can also deplete your body of essential vitamins.
Claritin specifically depletes the body of Iron leading to anemia.
All Antihistamines should not be taken in conjunction with lemon balm, kava kava, California poppy, catnip, St. John's wort, skullcap and Valerian.
A Safer Alternative to Medication
We are lucky that there has been a significant amount of research on how Acupuncture effects our reaction to allergens. According to the most recent study in Germany, 2013. Found those who received Acupuncture treatments had a 70% reduction in their symptoms.
TCM views allergies as a Wind condition, describing how it comes on suddenly, and with the presence of itching. There is also a correlation with a Wei Qi deficiency. The Wei Qi is the protective Qi of the body. Those with Wei Qi Deficiency tend towards catching colds easily.
The known anti-inflammatory effects of Acupuncture may be at the root of how Acupuncture reduces allergy symptoms.
How Acupuncture Works for Allergies
Patients can see results in as little as one treatment, but the best results are seen after several treatments. I recommend coming in at the first sign of allergies, or if you know you get allergies at the same time every year, come in prior to signs to prevent them before they start.
1. CNN Article: Acupuncture May Be Antidote for Allergies
2. American Academy of Medical Acupuncture: Acupuncture and Seasonal Allergies
3. The Anti-inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture and their Relevance to Allergic Rhinitis
What is Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral Neuropathy can be caused by many different underlying injuries and diseases causing damage to the nerves of the body. It is characterized by numbness, tingling, burning, or sensitivities of the extremities. With correct treatment some symptoms can be reduced over time. As long as the nerves are not permanently damaged.
Underlying Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy
The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. It can also be caused by;
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy vary depending on which nerves are affected, as well as the duration and the severity of the damage.
More often, peripheral neuropathy starts in the longer nerves, affecting those of the fingers and toes first.
Chinese Medicine for Peripheral Neuropathy
There are a variety of techniques in Traditional Chinese Medicine that can be used to treat Peripheral Neuropathy depending on the presentation and underlying cause.
There are several vitamin deficiencies associated with symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. By modifying the diet to include foods that are rich in these vitamins and by including high quality vitamin supplements, symptoms can very often be reversed.
Diet and Nutrition for Peripheral Neuropathy
Acupuncture for Peripheral Neuropathy
In a 2007 research study 192 patients were monitored for a year. Of those 47 were classified as having Peripheral Neuropathy with undefined etiology. Those patients were then divided into 2 groups. A) provided with Acupuncture treatments based on the Heidelburg Model. B) Provided the best western medical care, but no specific treatment method. Of those in Group A, 76% improved based on the NCS measurements, 14% showed no change, and 10% said they had aggravated symptoms. Of those in Group B, ONLY 15% showed improvement, 27% had no change and 58% had aggravation of symptoms.
Those in the Western treatment group were MORE LIKELY TO HAVE AGGRAVATION OF SYMPTOMS, while those in the Acupuncture group were MORE LIKELY TO HAVE IMPROVEMENT OF SYMPTOMS.
Very often we will combine electro stimulation with the Acupuncture treatments.
Moxibustion for Peripheral Neuropathy
Moxibustion is used to warm the needles and acupuncture points. When using Moxibustion to treat peripheral neuropathy, we typically use the warm needle type (there are several ways Moxibustion can be used). In this method, small balls of moxa are place on top of the needles and lit. The burning moxa then warms the needle to its tip (deeply placed into the body).
There is currently a study being conducted on the use of Warm Moxa Acupuncture for treating Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy
Resources and Research: Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy
What is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
Ankylosing Spondylitis (or AS) is an inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints. Primarily the spine and pelvis, but it can also affect other joints, such as the wrists and ankles, and in rare instances organs such as the heart, lungs, and intestines. Most cases typically present with bouts of pain and stiffness followed by periods of remission.
What causes AS?
There is no definitive cause of AS. There has been a genetic link found in recent years with the gene HLA-B27. As the disease progresses, new bone forms at areas of inflammation in an attempt to heal the area causing fusion of joints.
Onset is usually in young adulthood between the ages of 17-45. It is more common in men, and those with a family history of the disease as there is a genetic link.
Is there a cure?
AS is a chronic, degenerative disease that currently has no cure. Western Medicine treatment typically involved the continuous use of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Catching the disease early is very important for treatment. With proper diet, exercise and in some cases physical therapy, the disease can be managed.
Diet: Eating a low inflammatory diet is very important. You can undergo a blood test that will help you identify any food allergies you may have. Food allergies can be unexpressed, or mild in symptoms and you may not have a anaphylactic reaction to them. So, testing is an important step. There are also certain foods that can create inflammation in the body and should be avoided.
Exercise: The goal when exercising as therapy for AS, is the maintain posture and joint flexibility. Exercises such as Yoga can help avoid complications with curvature of the spine, and can help keep joints open.
Surgery: In extreme cases surgery may the last option in the form of joint replacements,, or correction of spinal curvature. Surgery is risky and should be used as a last resort.
So, where does Acupuncture fit into the picture?
Other therapies such as Massage, Tui-Na, Acupuncture, Moxibution and Electro-Acupuncture can offer relief from pain, and decrease inflammation in the body.
A meta-analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that, "Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option."
When we are treating a client with Acupuncture for inflammatory arthritic conditions such as AS, we are treating the body as a whole. We are treating any imbalanced that may be attributing to bouts of inflammation and we are treating acute flare ups with Acupuncture Needles, Electro-Acupuncture and Moxibustion. All of these have different effects on the body.
Acupuncture: depending on the presentation points will be selected that balance the immune system response, reduce inflammation and easy pain. Acupuncture causes neuropeptide release from nerve endings which subsequently have vasodilative and anti-inflammatory effects through the calcitonin gene-related peptide. 
Electro-Acupuncture TENS: Electro-Acupuncture significantly increases the plasma levels of natural corticosterone, and suppresses inflammation by activating the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and the nervous system.5]
Moxibustion: With Arthritis moxibustion at BL 23 can lighten local inflammation, eliminate swelling, prevent and/or reduce polyarthritises. It can help with recovery and promote the effects of concanavalin, inducing splenic lymphocyte proliferation 
References and Studies
I am often asked about how Acupuncture can help to stimulate natural labor. This is a newer application of Acupuncture for the Western World, and is beginning to gain some recognition, but it is not new in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thousands of years ago, Eastern Medicine Doctors had to have ways of stimulating labor in women who either did not spontaneously go into labor, when labor stalled or when labor was not strong enough to successfully delivery the baby. Several Acupuncture points are talked about in the literature as being effective for inducing labor or strengthening contractions. (These points are forbidden during pregnancy, with the exception of stimulating labor).
"If the fruit is not ripe, it will not fall" Proverb
From a Western Medical standpoint, these points work in the body in different ways, but together they are able to stimulate labor. Some cause strong uterine contractions by stimulating the natural production of Oxytocin. Some stimulate dilation of the cervix by increase the natural production of prostaglandins, and some directly affect the sacral plexus to stimulate uterine contractions.
From an Eastern Medical standpoint, these points increase blood flow to the uterus, increase uterine contractions, and are descending and moving.
Acupuncture for Labor Induction is best used when the patient has reached 40 weeks gestation (I never treat anyone who has not reached 40 weeks), and has a healthy pregnancy with no complications.
There are several factor that determine the success of the treatments. These include, dilation of the cervix, effacement, gestation, and station of the baby. There is no progression recipe that will tell me/or other practitioner whether the treatments will work or not because everyone response differently to treatments. A mother may not be ripened, the baby not engaged, but the Uterus responds quickly to treatments.
Most often, mothers call me a day or two before they are scheduled to have a hospital induction. Although I have seen acupuncture inductions work almost immediately, the average time for the treatments to go into affect is 12 hours. According to research studies it can be between 3-48 hours from the beginning of treatments. Because we are stimulating the natural production of these hormones, this takes time. We have to stimulate the acupuncture points to stimulate to corresponding organs/glands to produce the hormones and then give those hormones time to travel to the uterus to stimulate labor. Unfortunately, just like all induction methods, it doesn't work for everyone. Sometimes there are unforeseen reasons that the body will not go into labor...as the quote above says, "if the fruit is not ripe, it will not fall." We cannot force the body to do what it is not naturally ready to do. If mother or baby are not ready then it will not work.
Recently a study was done at the University of North Carolina. The study included 56 women who are 39.5-41 weeks pregnant. Half of the women received 3 acupuncture session, and the other half received western medical induction methods. 70% of the women who received acupuncture went into labor naturally compared to 50% of the women who received standard western care. The women who received Acupuncture were also less likely to deliver via cesarean vs. the standard western care group - 17% vs 39%...that is a 50% decrease in cesarean delivery!!! Research was done by Terry Harper MD
When treating a mother for labor induction, I prefer to see her twice in one day, and I will then attach interdermal needles that can be worn after the treatments to continue to stimulate the acupuncture points. If the mother does go into labor, these tacks can be stimulated to increase contractions and speed the labor process....and some of the points can be used to decrease pain perception during labor as well.
The use of this technique goes beyond just inducing labor in healthy women, who have not gone into spontaneous labor. It can be applied to women who have had a rupture of membranes without the start of labor, women who are in labor but experience weakening, stalling, or irregular contractions.
Although Acupuncture for the induction of labor is safe, with no side effects, or additional risks of natural childbirth complications, there are some cases where is it not applicable. This includes CPD (Cephalopelvic disproportion) or obstructed labor, severe pre-eclampsia, kidney disease, pre-existing heart conditions, diabetes, bleeding during pregnancy, or previous cesarean delivery.