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Understanding Allergies, Sinusitis & Bronchitis - Through the Eyes of Chinese Medicine

As the world moves forward into the modern age of medicine, we can observe major strides being taken in surgical advancements and in the practice of trauma-based care. The field of Western medicine and healthcare is on the cutting edge of treating critical physical injuries and acute infectious diseases. 

However, when it comes to diagnosing and treating both short term ailments and chronic health conditions, the classical Western approach often relies on a pharmaceutical-based treatment regimen. Many times, the side effects of these drugs can be worse than the original symptoms themselves.  

If you’re like a growing number of concerned Americans, you’re probably dissatisfied with the lack of answers and long-term treatment solutions offered by the Western approach. Hundreds of new people every day are looking elsewhere, to humanity’s storied – but often glanced-over – history of herbal and natural healing methods. One of the oldest still-surviving schools of alternative healing practices is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  

Not only is ancient Chinese medicine still surviving in the world today – it is absolutely thriving, and its methodologies are attracting scores of westerners who seek to embrace a holistic understanding of health that draws from the wisdom of Eastern medicine philosophies.  

As the Winter season gives way to the re-birth of Spring, the blooming, blossoming growth of new life brings with it a sense of flourishing inspiration. Unfortunately, beauty isn’t the only thing that arrives on the wind, and many find themselves scrambling for new solutions to the oh-so-joyful companions of seasonal allergies and nasal congestion.

Spring - A Time for Renewal 

In Chinese herbal medicine, Spring is the season of Renewal – a time for embarking on new projects, leaving old troubles behind and embracing a spirit of openness and readiness to grow with the changing landscape of life. Unfortunately, this new seasonal lease on life can bring with it allergy and asthma symptoms that afflict a large percentage of the US population with itchy throat, stuffy nose, post nasal drip and a host of other wearisome ailments.  

What if there were a way to naturally relieve symptoms of allergic rhinitis and sinusitis that flare up in the Spring and Summer – without expensive trips to the pharmacy section for this year’s newest “remedy”? 

Alternative Approaches – Ancient Answers 

TCM draws upon the ancient wisdom of thousands of years of study and practice in the heart of China, dating back at least 2,500 years. Chinese medicine is a holistic system that incorporates herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qi gong) and dietary therapy. These practices combine to re-balance a person’s internal constitution and promote the optimal flow of vital energy (qi) through channels in the body known as meridians, which are in turn branched and connected to various bodily organs and functions.  

The dualistic concept of Yin and Yang is central to Chinese medicine theory, and it is applied across the understanding of the human body. Yin and Yang characterization extends to the body functions, and each one’s lack or over-abundance creates different disease symptoms.  

The Chinese herbalists viewed the universe and nature as breaking down into five fundamental elemental qualities, known as the Five Phases  – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. This conceptual model serves as a way of understanding the interactions between the systems of the body, and how different symptoms and ailments present themselves & are governed.  

The central piece of understanding in how TCM interprets the interconnected functions of our body is through the zang-fu. These bear the names of 10 organs but are treated differently from what we consider the organ systems in Western medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine primarily defines these by their functionality – so the concepts are generally but not always associated with the same organs we know in the West.  

The zang-fu are inherently entwined with the Five Phases and correspond in this way:

  • Fire (火) = Heart and Small Intestine
  • Earth (土) = Spleen and Stomach
  • Metal (金) = Lung and Large Intestine
  • Water (水) = Kidney and Bladder
  • Wood (木) = Liver and Gallbladder  

So what does this mean for those of us suffering from chronic sinusitis (sinus inflammation) and rhinitis (nasal inflammation) symptoms during allergy months and seasonal bouts with cold & flu?  

Health-Activating Combinations of Herbs & Botanicals  

TCM medicine offers an herbal and elemental answer to all of the same allergy and respiratory symptoms that have been bothering people for millennia – an answer that draws from the healing power of Mother Nature and the herbs and compounds that can be found right in the soil. Chinese medicine practitioners were some of the first to figure out how to stop a runny nose, how to relieve sinus pressure, how to get rid of a sinus infection and how to deal with all of the other exhausting effects of acute and chronic allergies and respiratory problems. 

You’ll find some of TCM’s 50 Fundamental Herbs among the energizing and fortifying blends available throughout the Best Chinese Medicines site.  

Conquering Your Congestion 

A congested nose, swollen nasal passages, and sinus polyps are just a few of the many symptoms of sinus congestion that can claim your energy and willpower to make it through the day during a heavy afternoon of wind-swept allergens. In fact, the wind and other elemental relationships are some of the unique ways that TCM approaches treatment of sinus pressure and sinusitis symptoms – Chinese herbalists would describe an abundance of Heat, pathogenic Wind, turbidity and Damp that need to be dispelled from the patient. According to this Eastern medicine philosophy, the Lung qi would be seen to be deficient and in need of proper re-alignment and restoration in the downward-flowing direction. 

Some of the best available herbal methods for sinusitis treatment and how to treat a sinus infection can be found right here: 

Alleviating Your Allergies & Rhinitis 

Sometimes how to clear a stuffy nose isn’t the problem. Just how many tissues and raw-rubbed nostrils have you had to endure throughout the years as you try to keep up with your endlessly runny nose during the hay fever and ragweed season? Not to mention the nasal polyps that can develop from constant rubbing and contact.  

When it comes to allergies and how to get rid of a runny nose as well as stop sneezing, the Chinese herbalists could assess you as having the condition of Wind-Cold blocking your Exterior. They would likely determine that there is an internal accumulation of lung Heat that needs to be dispelled and seek treatments to direct your deficient Lung qi downwards.  

For a post nasal drip cure and alleviation of overall allergy symptoms, discover some of the awesome herbal blends that have stood the test of time:  

 Calming Your Cough 

Whether you suffer from a scratchy throat and dry allergy cough or a deep, phlegm-filled rumble, you don’t have to be stuck hacking and wheezing as the allergies of spring and summertime roll in. Everyone responds to allergens and environmental changes differently, and that is part of what makes Chinese medicine so versatile – this revered tradition has a response to re-balance and re-harmonize you no matter which way the Yin & Yang and your own qi have gotten out of alignment. 

As the Chinese practitioners would remark, a cough-stricken patient is likely afflicted by both exterior Wind-Cold and Interior Phlegm-Heat. They experience an accumulation of Dryness which must be properly moistened, and of lung Heat that needs to be dispelled while their lung qi deficiency should be disseminated and directed downward. Both the kidney and the lung may be deficient in Yin, and an enrichment of the patient’s Yin is called for through an appropriate herbal remedy.  

Luckily, our ancient forebears have taken the hard work out and given us the equations, meticulously selecting the perfect botanical ingredients to create calming & soothing comfort for cough and respiratory pain:  

Fighting Your Phlegm & Bronchitis 

Bronchitis and severe cold & flu symptoms can lead to heavy phlegm congestion and buildup, which has its own Chinese herbal treatment method surrounding it.  

The herbal practitioners of TCM would likely determine there to be an accumulation of surface exterior Wind which needs to be dispelled and removed. The accumulation of Phlegm-Heat in the lungs must be sedated within the patient. There may be lung Dampness and a qi deficiency which would have to be directed downward. The most optimal herbal blends for dealing with these associated symptom imbalances include: 

While the approaches to healthcare treatment differ greatly between Eastern and Western schools of thought, a growing proportion of the US population are seeking alternative solutions to managing their medical symptoms. This continuing upward trend sheds an important light on just how much value the West is unearthing from the ancient wisdom of herbal medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices.



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