Spring is a beautiful season, with colorful blooms everywhere, but many people are suffering from seasonal allergy. Pollen and hay bring endless sneezing, tearing, running nose, skin rashes, and asthma. It is usually chronic, coming back about the same time, year after year. It is not a serious disease but certainly uncomfortable and affect the quality of life. There are drugs available for chewing, inhale, and spray, but the relief is often temporary. How does Chinese medicine treat seasonal allergy? Let’s take a look.
Causes and diagnosis of allergy in Chinese medicine
The basic cause of the seasonal allergy, in traditional Chinese medicine, is the low Defensive Qi (Wei Qi). Similar to the immune system in Western medicine, a deficient Wei Qi cannot protect and fight for our health.
The Wind is one of the six evil external pathogens in Chinese medicine theory. During the change of season, wind heat or wind cold can easily cause symptoms like running nose, sneezing, headache, and itchy nose and eyes.
Dampness is another one of the six evils that make the condition worse. Either from the damp weather or poor diet, dampness will compromise our Spleen and Lung function, and cause problems in breathing, edema, and heavy sensation.
San Fu Tie (three resting paste) herbal paste
San Fu Tian (three resting days) refers to the hottest 30 days (approximately, not always 30 days exact) in a year according to the lunar calendar. It is usually divided into three ten days around June, July, and August. In Chinese medicine theory, winter disease should be treated during summer. If we take care of ourselves during the hot days (Yang), we can prevent disease in the cold days (Yin).
San Fu Tie, the herbal paste, is developed to be used during these 30 days to treat seasonal allergy. It builds up defensive Qi in the body before the allergy season.
The ingredients of San Fu Tie typically include Bai Jie Zi (Semen Sinapis Albae), Xi Xin (Herba Asari), Gan Sui (Radix Kansui), and Yan Hu Suo (Rhizowa Corydalis). They are grounded into powder, with added honey or ginger juice to form a paste. The paste is divided into small balls to be spread on a clean cloth, and be taped to specific acupuncture points in the back.
Each paste can last from several hours to days in the body. You need to go back for at least three times (first, middle and ending Fu) in one summer. The acupuncturists offer the service can tell you when you have to come back to complete the treatment. Many patients show great results from this popular treatment, but some might need longer to see a big difference.
Common Chinese herbs used to treat allergy
Traditional herbal treatments for allergy are similar to treating the common cold. Depending on the symptoms, it might be Wind Heat, Wind Cold, Wind damp, deficiency of Lung or Spleen.
Here are some common herbs and formulas used:
Xin Yi Hua – Clears wind cold and unblock nasal passage. Great for nose problems.
Jing Jie and Fang Feng – Releases exterior, expel Wind, vent rash, relieve spasm.
Ge Geng – Releases Exterior Wind-Cold, relieve spasm and muscle pain (especially in the neck), generate fluid.
Bai Zhi – Expels Wind and Damp, unblock nasal passage, relieves a frontal headache (Yang Ming a headache), reduce swelling, pus, and discharge.
Cang Er Zi – Dispels Wind-Damp, unblock nasal passage, clear nasal discharge, great for a sinus headache.
Ju Hua – Dispels Wind-Heat, calms liver and clear eyes.
Jue Ming Zi – Clears Wind-Heat and calms liver. It helps with all vision problems.
Si Jun Zi Tang (Four gentleman decoction) – Ren Shen (or Dang Shen for a cheaper alternative), Bai Zhu, Fu Ling, Gan Cao. This is a classical formula to boost Qi and energy. It will help with spleen Qi, Lung Qi and Defensive Qi (Wei Qi).
Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six gentleman decoction) – Si Jun Zi Tang plus Ban Xia, Chen Pi. Ban Xia and Chen Pi helps transform dampness, clear phlegm, runny nose, and balance water metabolism in the
Most herbal treatment for seasonal allergy needs to start 4- 6 weeks before allergy season for best effect. Early prevention focuses on regulating and building up defensive Qi so our body can handle different allergens.
Other things to help with seasonal allergy
One thing you can do is to regulate your lifestyle and take good care of yourself.
- Avoid oily, greasy, sweet, extreme hot or cold food. Too much of the improper diet will damage spleen and stomach, and produce dampness.
- Avoid contact what triggers your allergy reaction. Clean your environment often and use a good air purifier.
- Stress and overwork will weaken your Qi and cause imbalance. Get enough rest and quality sleep.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drug use.
Links about San Fu Tie
Here are some videos showing how San Fu Tie looks like and how to apply it if you are curious. Consult a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist for a custom treatment.