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Allergy Relief: Acupuncture for Congestion

Allergy Relief: Acupuncture for Congestion

by Grace Ganel, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.


We've all experienced congestion. Whether it's caused by seasonal allergies, a common cold, or chronic sinus concerns, congestion be very persistent and uncomfortable. Some folks find relief from over-the-counter medications, but they are a one-size fits-all approach that often misses the root of the issue. and many folks are unable to use certain medications due to drug interactions, breastfeeding, pregnancy, or other concerns. Alternative approaches like acupuncture can provide targeted support for folks experiencing congestion with minimal side effects. In this blog post, we'll explore the theories and research behind cupping, gua sha, and acupuncture for congestion relief.


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How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is an ancient practice developed first in China that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), these acupuncture points are connected by pathways that create a flow of energy called Qi (pronounced "chee"). By stimulating these points, acupuncture aims to restore appropriate flow of Qi and promote the body's natural healing process. Acupuncture is an observationally based art with thousands of years of wisdom supporting each point selection and theory.


How can acupuncture support you with congestion relief?

The nasal passages, sinuses, and respiratory system are intricately connected in the body. Acupuncture, when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner, can target specific points and regions to promote overall respiratory health and provide support for folks experiencing congestion. Here's how acupuncture may help with congestion relief:


1. Address the root cause

Since acupuncture is a complete system of medicine, the theories of acupuncture include theories behind symptoms of common cold, allergies, and more. So your provider will complete a thorough assessment of the Chinese and Japanese medicine root of your congestion and address that issue using the appropriate techniques and theories. For example, there's a saying in Chinese medicine that "wind is the spearhead of a thousand diseases," and many cold and flu symptoms are treated as "Wind Invasions" where the provider uses gua sha, cupping, needles, and in some cases moxa to dispel the pathogen (Xie "evil" qi) and rejuvenate the energy in the body that fights illnesses (Zheng "upright" qi). In the case of allergies, the focus is often on nourishing deficiencies in the channels associated the immune and digestive systems, so that every little thing the system encounters is not seen as a threat any longer and immune responses are not mounted so strongly against minor irritants.


2. Improved Blood Circulation

Acupuncture helps enhance blood circulation, promoting better oxygen and nutrient delivery to congested areas. This increased circulation can aid in reducing inflammation and opening up nasal passages. Increased blood flow also brings white blood cells to the area, which are needed to combat pathogens and dispose of damaged cells.


3. Release of Endorphins

Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. This can provide relief from congestion-related discomfort and promote a sense of well-being.



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4. Restoring Energy Flow

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that blockages in energy flow can contribute to congestion. Acupuncture seeks to restore the movement of the energy, addressing the root cause of the issue. Congestion is often a lack of flow of energy and fluids through the sinuses and mucus membranes. One of Qi's main functions is movement, so when we restore the flow of Qi, we encourage movement through the sinuses.


5. Relaxation of Muscles

Acupuncture can help relax the muscles around the respiratory system, making it easier to breathe. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with tension-related congestion and those experiencing congestion-related headaches and pressure or even chronic asthma.


6. Lymphatic System Support

When congestion is linked to swelling and excessive fluid in the sinus passages, using cupping and gua sha on the chest and face can provide much needed support to the lymphatic system through the channels of the Lung, Large Intestine, Stomach, and Triple Heater. Facial cupping is a gentle and age-old method offering support for congestion in the face, nose, ears, and upper chest. By stimulating the channels associated with the sinuses and lymphatic ducts gently, we can encourage the body to resorb and drain fluids from the tissues in the face and neck.


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Research on Acupuncture and Congestion:

While more research is needed, some studies suggest that acupuncture may indeed offer relief for congestion. A review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture was associated with significant improvements in nasal congestion and quality of life in individuals with persistent allergic rhinitis.


If you're considering acupuncture for congestion relief, it's crucial to choose a qualified and licensed acupuncture practitioner. Check their credentials, experience, and reviews to ensure you're in capable hands. Discuss your specific symptoms and concerns with the practitioner to tailor the treatment to your individual needs.


Acupuncture, with its holistic approach to health and well-being, can be a wonderful adjunctive therapy in providing relief for congestion. While individual responses may vary, many people find acupuncture to be a natural and effective complementary option for addressing respiratory issues. Before exploring acupuncture or any alternative therapies, it's advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it's a suitable choice for your specific situation. Embrace the ancient wisdom of acupuncture and discover a path to clearer, unobstructed breathing - schedule today for support with your congestion-related needs!

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