Issue #3: Allergic Rhinitis and Seasonal Allergies

Dear Friend,
        We had a very successful seminar about the introduction of TCM on Wednesday, May 1st. If you are interested in learning more about the basics of TCM, we have another seminar coming up on May 29th. Please call the school to reserve your seat now!

        If you haven't already done so, check out our Facebook page (Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine) and our Twitter account (@TSTCM_clinic).

        All new patients will get $35 off their initial treatment if they print out the poster seen below. So if you know any friends or family members that can benefit from acupuncture, be sure to help them book an appointment today!
Dr. Mary Wu
Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Introduction to TCM Seminar

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We will be having another seminar to introduce Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture at our school clinic at Lawrence Square Mall Unit 433. Our first seminar was very successful, and our second seminar is coming up really soon on May 29th at 12:00 - 1:00PM. If you are curious about what TCM is all about, or are hesitant to give acupuncture a try, come to this information session to see how TCM can help you. Please call 416-782-9682 to reserve your seat now!

Also, you can print this poster out for your friends and family, so that they can save $35 on their first treatment!

TCM Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis and Seasonal Allergies 
By: Kenneth Choi (H.B.Sc, M.Sc., R.Ac.)







 April showers bring May flowers. For most of us, we look forward to this time of the year where winter has finally started to fade, and spring is in the air. However, for thousands of Canadians, this is the start of their seasonal allergies, which is a dreadful period full of sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion.

Allergic rhinitis is a group of symptoms

that affect the nose caused by an allergic reaction to environmental factors such as dust, dander, and in the spring time, pollen. It occurs in people of various ages, but is most commonly seen in people 15-40 years old and occurs more often in the spring and fall during pollen season.

Symptoms may include itchy nose, mouth, eyes, throat, or skin, persistent sneezing, nasal obstruction, runny nose, lose of smell, stuffy nose, and coughing. Symptoms are triggered mostly from the allergen irritating the mucous layer of the nose, throat and lungs, and causing an immune reaction. Some other symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and headaches are caused by the long-term effects of the symptoms taking a toll on the body.

Cause of Allergic Rhinitis According to Western Medicine

When a person with allergic rhinitis inhales an allergen, this causes the allergic symptoms. An allergen is something that triggers an allergy, such as pollen or dust. The most prevalent allergens that causes seasonal allergies are pollen from trees, grasses, and ragweed. When the allergen is inhaled, the allergen triggers the tissue in the nose into a Type I allergic reaction. The allergen will activate mastocyte and basophilic cells in the nasal mucosa, which will result in the release of histamine. The histamine release causes symptoms such as nasal discharge, sneezing, and itchiness.

    Allergies may be genetic, and if both of your parents have allergies, you are more susceptible to getting them as well. Furthermore, the weather can have a big effect on the symptoms as well. Weather that is more dry can cause increased symptoms, and after rain, the symptoms may be slightly relieved. People with allergic rhinitis have also be associated to get eczema and asthma as well.

In Western Medicine, the disorder of the shaking palsy was first described by London physician named James Parkinson in 1817 and was later named after him. Parkinson's disease is now known to be a progressive neurological disorder involving degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain that controls movement. Such degeneration creates a shortage of dopamine and causes tremors and shaking that characterize the disease. Parkinson's disease is relatively rare overall, but it becomes a common problem of the elderly with onset around 60 years old, affecting about 6% of those over the age of 65 and affecting more men than women.  

In most cases, the first symptom of Parkinson's disease is tremor (trembling or shaking) of a limb, especially when the body is at rest. The tremor often begins on one side of the body, frequently in one hand. As the disease progresses, both sides of the body may be involved and shaking of the head may also occur. Other common symptoms include slow movement, difficulty in initiating movement, rigid limbs, a shuffling gait, a stooped posture, and reduced facial expressions. In about a third of the cases, the disease also causes or is associated with depression, personality changes, dementia, sleep disturbances, speech impairments, and/or sexual difficulties.  

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis According to Western Medicine

Lifestyle Changes

The best treatment is to avoid the allergens that are causing your symptoms. It is of course impossible to avoid all the allergens completely, but there are ways to limit your exposure to them. Having air filters in the vent of your house can help limit the amount of allergens into the house. There are portable air filters that cleans the air of a room, and can be used in the rooms that you most frequent. If you are allergic to dust, it is advised to keep the house clean and to wear a mask when cleaning to that dust isn't inhaled. After being exposed to allergens, there are nasal washes that you can to help remove the mucus that has trapped the allergens from your nose, so that the allergens do not irritate the mucosal cells in the nose.


Anti-histamines work well with treating allergy symptoms and is most effective if the allergy reactions do not happen often or do not last very long. They can be bought over the counter without a prescription. However, they may cause drowsiness, and if a child takes it, it can affect their learning and attention span.

Coricosteroid nasal sprays are the most effective treatment of allergic rhinitis. They are safe to use, but it is not safe for long-term use, as long-term steroid use have many side effects.

De-congesting nasal spray can be used to reduce nasal stuffiness temporarily. They are a temporary fix, and should not be used for more than 3 days.

Allergy shots or immunotherapy are sometimes used if a person cannot avoid the allergen and the symptoms are hard to control. They require regular injections of the allergen to help the body adjust to the allergen.

Allergic Rhinitis According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

According to TCM, we relate allergic reactions to the deficiency of "Defensive Qi", or Wei Qi, which defend the body against external pathogens. The Defensive Qi is made by the Kidneys, and is distributed by the Lungs to all the rest of the body. If the Defensive Qi is deficient, then inappropriate responses will occur when allergens are inhaled. The area will become irritated and inflamed, provoking mucus production and sneezing.

The allergens are brought into the body through, what we call "External Wind". This Wind attacks the nose, throat and Lungs, when the Defensive Qi is weak. The itching and sneezing is due to the Wind attacking the body. The Wind can remain there indefinitely if there isn't enough Defensive Qi to expel it.

Therefore, allergic rhinitis can be caused by different factors. If the Kidneys are weak, it cannot make enough Defensive Qi to protect the body from the allergens. If the Lungs are weak, it cannot disperse the Defensive Qi properly to help defend the body. The body can also get attacked by External Wind. Each of these different ways have their characteristic symptoms, and may differ from each other only slightly, but a trained TCM practitioner can tell the difference between each one.

Treatments According to TCM

Many people who get allergic rhinitis often get it year after year, for months at a time, and for some people, it may last all year. For these people, they will have to be on anti-histamines long-term. However, more and more people are choosing to be less dependent on medications, and want to take a more natural approach. Furthermore, medication is only a temporary fix, and as soon as they stop taking the medication, the symptoms come back.

Fortunately, Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been shown to be effective in treating allergic rhinitis. Not only does it treat the symptoms, it has been shown to have lasting effects. There has been some research done that confirms that they do in fact help in treating allergic rhinitis.

Chen (Chen, 2007) has found that acupuncture was significantly better in treating allergic than the administration of Biyankang tablets (a generic medication for allergic rhinitis). 45 people were in each group. The treatment group was given acupuncture daily for 10 consecutive days, which consists of one course. Two courses were given in the study, and the results were followed up six months later. In the treatment group, the effective rate was 91.1%, while the Biyankang tablet group was 46.7%. One year later, the recurrence rate was also better in the treatment group compared to the Biyankang tablet group. Therefore, acupuncture is better at treating allergic rhinitis than generic medications, and has lasting effects even up to one year later.

Ng et al. (Ng, 2004) has found that acupuncture is effective in treating persistent allergic rhinitis in children. 70 patients were put into two groups; one treatment group and a sham acupuncture group (where fake acupuncture points were used). The treatments were given twice a week for 8 weeks. There were significantly lower daily rhinitis scores and more symptom-free days for the group receiving active acupuncture, during both the treatment and follow-up periods. Lastly, no severe adverse reactions occurred, and is found to be very safe.

Brinkhaus et al. (Brinkhaus, 2004) found that a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine was effective and safe in treating allergic rhinitis. 54 patients were split into two groups; one with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, and a control group that received sham acupuncture and a non-specific Chinese herbal formula. All patients received acupuncture once a week and a decoction of the Chinese herbal medicine three times daily for 6 weeks. Assessment were performed before, during treatment, and 1 week after the treatment. The acupuncture and Chinese herbal group showed significant improvement in 85% of the patients, while only 40% in the control group. The treatment group also showed significant improvement in a Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire compared to the control group.


It has been shown in current research studies that acupuncture alone, and acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine is immediately effective and a long-lasting solution for allergic rhinitis in adults and in children. The treatments are all natural and are very safe, even for children. So if you are someone you know are suffering from allergic rhinitis and hay fever, have them come in to get an assessment to see if acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine is right for them!


Brinkhaus, B., et al. "Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized-controlled clinical trial." Allergy 59.9 (2004): 953-960.

Ng, Daniel K., et al. "A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis." Pediatrics 114.5 (2004): 1242-1247.

Zhong-xin, Chen. "Clinical observation on acupuncture for treatment of allergic rhinitis [J]." Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion 8 (2007): 011.


About Us

TSTCM offers professional training programs in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and provides supervised health services in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies, and Tuina massage to our local community and beyond

Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine | 700 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 433 | Toronto | Ontario | M6A 3B4 | Canada

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