Acupuncture Offers Allergy Relief

April 20, 2015 Updated: May 5, 2015

Allergies are a common problem with symptoms ranging from the occasional sniffle to severe, life-threatening reactions.

According to WebMD, 55 percent of the U.S. population tests positive to one or more allergens. So, if allergies are this common, what exactly are they?

Allergies happen when your immune system has a reaction to something it considers harmful (even if it isn’t) and in response produces antibodies.

Normally these antibodies help protect us from from infection and illness, but with an allergic reaction, the antibodies can cause many unpleasant symptoms, including inflammation of the sinuses, airway, skin, and digestive tract. People can be allergic to many things, including certain foods, pet dander, medications, pollen, mold, and insect bites.

Chinese medicine techniques strengthen and balance your immune system, so over time the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and cupping can greatly reduce allergic reactions.

There are acupuncture points around the sinuses and elsewhere on the body that may provide almost immediate relief as well as offering cumulative benefits. Acupuncture opens the sinuses, relieves congestion, helps reduce inflammation, and resolves many digestive complaints, such as bloating, pain, and gas.

Some common acupoints used to treat allergies include Yinxiang/Large Intestine 20, which is located close to the nostrils; Hegu/Large Intestine 4, a well-known point, is found on the hand between the thumb and index finger; and Zusanli/Stomach 36 is just below the knee on the lateral side of the shin bone. 

Hegu/Large Intestine 4 (Shutterstock)

Researchers have been testing acupuncture’s effects for a while. In 2008, the American Journal of Epidemiology published the results of a large German study of 5,237 people. The patients who received acupuncture had significantly more improvement in their allergy symptoms than those who received routine care alone.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. “Adventures in Chinese Medicine” is her first book. You can find her at