Inhalants and Allergies: A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Point of View (II)
Ms. Veronica Hoi, Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
TCM doctors believe failures of curing eczema and allergic rhinitis after long treatments are due to ‘weaknesses inside the body. ‘Weakness’ means ‘deficiency’. Spleen weakness caused by weakened transporting ability of spleen could contribute to the formation of eczema; lung weakness caused by poor condensation ability of lung qi (‘lung air’) could bring allergic rhinitis.
Both lung and spleen weaknesses can be either congenital or post-natal; and they can also be influenced by diet and lifestyle. The pathogenic factors in daily life are classified as six categories, six evils (six climatic exopathogens), including ‘wind, cold, hot, humid, dry, heat’.
When six evils invade our body, a healthy body can adjust itself to handle the invasion. But when our system or organ dysfunctions; the attack develops into a disease. From a TCM point of view, persistent diseases are mainly due to weakness. As mentioned, most of the chronic allergic patients have problems on weakness of organs. That means the body is unable to protect its own health immediately by responding properly when it is under invasion. Therefore, diseases appear; i.e. when the body cannot get the humidity inside our body away owing to spleen weakness, leading to humidity-associating diseases; because of lung weakness, dry evil becomes over-flown to stimulate the dry-associating diseases.
Some pathogens invading our body through breathing and physical contact cannot be observed by our naked eyes are also the primary etiological factors causing allergies, such as molds, dusts and volatile organic compounds found in constructional materials and furniture. To allergic patients, they may be detrimental. Therefore, pinpointing the problematic inhalants provides extremely useful information for the doctors to treat them, also helps to improves patients’ body functions by avoiding the allergic inhalants and enhancing the efficiency of the treatment.
John is one of my patients congenitally allergic to a number of foods. After working in Mainland China, asthma breaks out with increased frequency and severity. Steroids are used, but symptoms resumed once he stopped using them. He sought help from me in a trip back to HK, I prescribed some Chinese medicines that were useful to improve the status of his health and relieve his symptoms. However, after 3-4 weeks, he has a sudden and severe asthma breakout that makes into the emergency room for a shot. Therefore, I suggested him to test immediate-onset/IgE inhalant allergy. The results revealed that he is allergic to molds, allergens from cats and dogs, and dusts. He soon found out there are a lot of mold spots on wooden furniture and, cats and dogs raised by his neighborhoods. This perfectly explains why John didn’t have any allergies in HK but turned bad rapidly when he worked in China. After that, he moved to a new home, and started to pay attention to the indoor environment. His asthma has gone. Thanks to the test that he took, he knew what he is allergic to, so that he can tackle the sources of his problem to reduce allergic exposure. Now I only see him three to four times a year, mainly due to common cold as well as other two times for semi-annual acupunctures being the best vaccine as the prevention of allergies.