Inhalants and Allergies: A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Point of View (I)
Ms. Veronica Hoi, Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
When treating allergies, I have seen patients putting their emphasis on avoiding allergic foods, but people tend to neglect the impact of inhalant antigens, or assume the aeroallergens or poor air quality can only affect those suffering from respiratory discomforts like allergic rhinitis and asthma.
It is nothing new to talk about the poor air quality in Hong Kong. The patients, who are suffering from common allergic symptoms like rashes, eczema, arthritis, etc, seldom connect their recurrent symptoms to the air they breathe everyday. Besides taking some extreme methods like immigrating to countries with cleaner air and wearing facial mask in daily life, we can still apply some simpler and milder ways to help the allergy patients. Eliminating food factors, inhalation of materials from our noses is also one of the primary sources of antigens. At the same moment of curing the symptoms, patients shall find out the allergic inhalants and then avoid them. The disease can then be tackled thoroughly in this way.
I believe my patients and readers are very familiar with my view to allergies that is ‘to cure the patients but not the disease itself; to pacify the body but not control the disease; to strengthen the body from inside and eliminate the sources so as to reduce the influences of allergic factors’. I also agree that both TCM and modern western medicine doctors are not able to completely cure eczema and rhinitis. Improving the health status of your body and reducing possible contact with allergens can effectively manage your allergies. No worsening and appearance of symptoms together with cure them once they appear can be classified into successfully curing the allergy, although it may not fit the definition of a complete cure.
The ‘control’ of disease by drugs can only temporarily suppress the symptoms. This does not cure the body. Without eliminating the ‘pathogenic factors’, the allergies will not be improved. Once you stop taking the drugs, the symptoms will immediately come back, for example, the skins of eczema patients will become no longer intact; rhinitis patients will get their running noses again, etc. If it is not necessary, it is not a good practice to take medicine in long term. No matter the drugs are eaten or smeared on the skin, long-term usage of drugs may still have some side effects. Finding out the fundamental causes of allergy via inhalant or food allergy tests can then combat the disease thoroughly and must be better than the treatment by using drugs alone.