If over-the-counter medicines and traditional treatments aren’t cutting it for allergy relief, Diane Kloecker, a licensed acupuncturist at TriHealth Integrative Health and Medicine, suggests trying acupuncture.
Acupuncture: How Does it Work?
Acupuncture, a treatment based on Chinese medicine, involves the insertion of very fine, solid needles into specific sites on the body for therapeutic purposes.
“According to the root philosophy of the medicine, patients who are susceptible to experiencing allergy symptoms are patients who typically have a deficiency in what’s called their protective qi [also known as natural energy],” Diane explains. Too much or too little, or blocked flow of qi can cause disease or health issues, so an acupuncturist inserts needles at points along the meridians to restore balance.
How exactly acupuncture works is not entirely clear; however, a study using images of the brain confirmed that acupuncture increases one's pain threshold, which may explain how it helps with long-term pain relief.
When Will I Experience Results?
Diane recommends achieving the "therapeutic dose" of acupuncture when you are starting out. This means attending one or two sessions weekly, for three weeks. You will usually go a week and a half or two weeks without treatment, and then meet with your acupuncturist to reevaluate the severity of symptoms.
"How often he or she needs to come after that depends on how long the effectiveness lasts, which is determined by tapering off treatment and gauging how the patient's quality of life maintains itself," she points out. From there, sessions could be as often as weekly sessions, or as sparse as every two or three months. "There's some subjectivity there."
On the other hand, if you experience no improvement, whatsoever, after achieving the "therapeutic dose," there is no reason to continue with treatment.
Should I Discontinue Taking My Regular Allergy Medicines?
Diane tells her patients to keep their antihistamines around in case they're having an especially bad day, but overall, if they are seeing improvements with allergy symptoms through acupuncture, the use of that medication should drop significantly.
When it comes to prescribed medications, she never tells patients to discontinue use. "If that's something they want to try to do, they really need to consult with their doctor or an allergy specialist," she points out.