Allergies, Acupuncture & Climate Change

Spring time allergies? Looking for a more sustainable solution to anti-histamines or medications?

Spring is here! Bringing its promise of a new beginning. Spring is the dawn of seasons, budding gifts of vision, clarity and directive purpose! Itchy, red eyes and sneezing from allergies can get in the way of seeing clearly the beauty of this time of year. Acupuncture, herbs and proper nutrition are natural ways to heal the body and relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.

Data is suggesting that spring is arriving a good ten days earlier than it did just twenty years ago. With rising CO2 levels and climbing temperatures, plants and trees are putting out more pollen than ever before. This is being documented alongside rising numbers of allergy sufferers.

In addition,“…studies have shown that the human immune system responds more dramatically to allergens in plants grown at higher temperatures, which suggests that global warming will intensify allergic reactions.” (1)


Allergies result when there is a hypersensitivity of the immune system and can be attributed to an acquired weakness in the Lung, Kidney, and/or Spleen organ systems in the Traditional Chinese Medicine model. The Liver, the organ of Spring, can be over-taxed as well. Organ systems can be depleted by many factors including overwork, poor diet, emotional stress, and toxicity.

Acupuncture: Anti-inflammatory & Immune Regulating

Acupuncture has the ability to treat the symptoms of allergies like sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat as well as more severe issues like chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, and ear infections. Acupuncture has very strong anti-inflammatory effects on the body; it helps to regulate our energy meridians, clear and strengthen our organs and move our blood. Acupuncture has the ability to up-regulate or down-regulate the immune system, as needed – a very unique quality! This means it can be used for auto-immune conditions as well as low-immunity.


Allergic rhinitis (congestion and mucus in the nasal passageways) has been linked with things like asthma, chronic low immunity, reflux, and sinusitis. Treating one can often help to control the other.

Acupuncture can also treat the root of the imbalance by strengthening the underlying organ systems. According to a study published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, acupuncture proved more effective at treating seasonal allergies than traditional antihistamines.

It’s best to start acupuncture treatments before the onset of Spring (or whichever season is worst for your allergies). It can take the body time to shift. Expect to come 1-2x/week for 6-12 weeks. Everyone is different and this is an average. Combining herbs, supplements, and proper nutrition with acupuncture can speed up the process significantly.

Plants & Nutrients: Re-establishing Order

Chinese herbal remedies are ancient formulas designed to treat the system as a whole, functioning entity, and are being employed successfully in the treatment of many modern illnesses including allergies. Uniquely tailored formulas “talk” to the body’s organ systems, helping re-establish “order” in the body’s landscape.

A whole foods diet free of foods that are genetically modified or conventionally grown with pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides is emphasized. This type of toxicity can affect the neuroendocrine pathways (hormones and nervous system) of the body which can lead to systemic dysfunction of the immune system. (2) (3) Eliminating toxicity from the body is foundational in regaining a vital immune system.

Traditional Chhinese dietary wisdom would emphasize Avoiding damp and phlegm causing foods – as they can increase the production of mucus in the body. These include dairy, sugar, cold/raw foods and food allergens/sensitivies.

Stinging Nettles for Allergies

Stinging Nettles is a very special plant that is safe to use for adult or childhood allergies. Research has shown that nettles has anti-inflammatory effects that treats allergic rhinitis with itchy watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Not to mention its high levels of Vitamin C and A, loads of trace nutrients and protein; ability to detoxify the kidney system and purify the blood. Pick your own or purchase at a local herb shop or health food store. Seek professional advice before wildcrafting any plants for proper identification and handling safety 🙂


Nettles can be made into an “infusion” properly by pouring boiling water over the nettles and letting it sit for 6-24 hours. It should turn a black color. Strain the nettles out and drink the infusion. Freeze dried nettles, nettle soup and other recipes are also great ways to get nettles into the body. Specific dosages are different for age and weight of child, but can generally be taken safely as spring tonic or during acute allergic flare-ups.


Kids get allergies and acupuncture too! I treat children ages 1 month and older with Shonishin (Japanese non-insertive acupuncture), pediatric style acupuncture, and tuina massage.


Cadie Federmeyer, LAc, MSOM, is a Chinese medicine practitioner in Bellingham, WA. You can find her at Bellingham Natural Family Medicine or at