By Rick Goodman
Let me introduce myself. My name is Rick Goodman. I moved to Royal Oak less than one year ago to set up my Oriental Medicine practice.
A colleague told me that the area would be a great place to hang out my shingle and connect with a diverse community. She was right. I have met new friends, many of whom are curious about acupuncture – a 2,000-year-old healing modality.
Through TV, newspapers, and magazines, you are likely aware that acupuncture is non-intrusive and stimulates the body to heal itself. In this column, I will share with you Oriental Medicine perspectives that will certainly benefit your own good health and well being. I believe that healing can only occur when mind, body, spirit, and emotions are properly balanced. My columns will reflect this view.
To begin, does the following sound familiar?
Runny nose, itching eyes, headaches, congestion, tearing, and dizziness plague countless people. At best, seasonal allergies interfere with daily activities. At their worst, they are immobilizing.
A variety of allergy drugs is available on the market. These drugs provide short-term relief of symptoms, but they do nothing to prevent the allergies from reoccurring season after season. To eliminate allergies, the sufferer needs to make a shift in his or her thinking, along with a few changes that reflect this new awareness.
The consensus view of allergies, I believe, is outdated. It runs like this: Particles in the air (dust, pollen, cat dander, etc) enter the body through the nose. The body reacts adversely to these tiny intruders. If we can take a pill to block the reaction, the allergies will stop.
While this is true on a superficial level, it does nothing to address the root of the problem. It does not explain why some people react to allergens and others do not. Take me, for example. I can enjoy a nice summer day outside without a sniffle. For a past patient of mine, just stepping outside is enough to set the wheeze-and-sneeze syndrome into motion.
It is not the pollen, dust, and mold that create the havoc. It is not the reaction to these allergens that are important. According to Oriental Medicine, two major reasons determine reaction to airborne substances.
First, a person who reacts negatively has weakened lungs. However, Oriental Medicine does not view the lungs in the same way as Western Medicine. The lung organ is not our only defense against airborne pathogens. The hair in the nose, the sinuses, the throat, and lung organs are all considered the same entity.
Combined, they work to ensure the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Filters between the nose and the lung help to trap potentially harmful agents. While this exchange occurs in the lung organ, the clean breath should travel smoothly from nose to lung. Any problems along this pathway can cause a weakness in the “lung.” This problem may have originated from a severe common cold or flu, exposure to or many other encounters. One simple way to eliminate the problem is to exercise. Get at least 90 minutes of anaerobic exercise (you can still talk – or sing – while working out) per week will help strengthen the lungs. Be sure not to get completely out of breath, as this will actually do more damage. Walking, bicycling, and using a treadmill are great ways to benefit the lungs.
A second factor is nutrition. Add foods to the diet that support normal lung performance. These include apples, pears, lima beans, tofu, and bananas. Start doing these two things as soon as possible. This will give your lungs time to strengthen before the allergy season begins.
Another important reason people have allergies is the amount of phlegm in the body. Those who suffer produce more phlegm than those who do not. The principal reason our bodies produce an abundance of mucous is poor diet. It is not easy to digest many commonly consumed foods. Because the body cannot break them down, they turn to phlegm. Culprits include all dairy products, beer, products containing white flour, processed sugar, and food fried with oils. If you do not eliminate these foods from you diet for at least three months, you will continue to have allergies. After three months of being free from these foods, you can slowly reintroduce them in moderation.
At this point, pay close attention to the foods you have consumed twenty-four hours before any new allergy attack.
I suggest replacing the candy (particularly milk chocolate, a double negative with milk and sugar) with the fruits listed above. If you eat bread, be sure it is 100% whole wheat. Soft, moist bread contains white flour. Cut out all dairy, including cheese. Stop frying your food and start baking. Drink at least 10 glasses of water per day. This will help to flush out the phlegm, replacing it with clear fluids. To help get the phlegm moving, add a small amount of a spicy salsa to three meals per week. Replace processed foods – anything in a can, box, or plastic bag – with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.
I once suffered horribly from allergies. (As a child, I had headaches, itching eyes, and a body that produced enough phlegm to fill the Great Lakes.) Acupuncture helped to move and rid the phlegm. Herbs helped to strengthen my lungs. I believe, however, that my strong adherence to the diet changes was responsible for a full recovery. Without changing my diet, the acupuncture would have moved the phlegm out, but I would have been producing more each time I ate a prohibited food. In the past six years, I have had one allergy attack (too much pizza). I challenge you, too, to make these difficult changes and rid yourself of allergies. Forever!