Are you among the many people who suffer from the symptoms associated with allergies? The most common sites for allergic reactions are the respiratory tract and the skin. It is the body’s own histamine reaction to foreign matter that creates the symptoms of hay fever such as sneezing and eye-watering around the eyes and the nasal mucous membranes. But allergy can also affect the digestive system by damaging the lining, causing chronic diarrhea.
Many allergy symptoms are caused by yeast infections: Yeast are single cell fungi which belong to the vegetable kingdom. Yeast is found all around us. They normally live in your body and more especially in your intestines, on the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and vagina. So do billions of friendly bacteria playing a big role in overall immunity that are necessary to properly digest food and to absorb nutrients. (Read more about different allergies here.)
When your immune system is strong, unfriendly bacteria, viruses, allergens, and other enemies aren’t able to break through into your deeper tissues or blood stream and make you sick. But if it is weak, you might feel sick all over…
How does Shiatsu come into play?
Shiatsu, a manipulative therapy developed in Japan, incorporates techniques of Japanese traditional massage, acupressure, stretching, and Western massage. It can be translated as finger pressure and has been described as needle-free acupuncture. It was developed out of traditional Japanese massage since the second half of the 19th century, and by 1955, the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare acknowledged shiatsu as a beneficial treatment.
This technique is based on the concept of Ki, the Japanese term for Chinese Qi, the all-pervading energy that flows through everything in the universe. Ki tends to flow through the body along special energy pathways called meridians, each of which is associated with a vital organ. In Asian systems of traditional medicine, diseases are often believed to occur due to disruptions in the flow of the Ki. These disruptions may stem from emotional factors, climate, or a host of other causes, including stress and physical trauma.
Shiatsu has a strong reputation for reducing stress and relieving nausea and vomiting. It is also believed to improve circulation and boost the immune system. It can relieve muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain – in a broader sense, shiatsu is believed to enhance physical vitality and emotional well-being.
Regular shiatsu treatments are helpful with allergies in relieving the symptoms of allergies and dramatically reducing allergic reactions. Shiatsu stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn promotes immune functions changes. TCM believes that the quality of blood is an important part of encouraging the energy flow in the body. Therefore, the quality of what you ingest, your exercise routine and sleep are strongly interrelated and taken into consideration when addressing chronic issues.
Ross Oakes describes the impact of shiatsu on his life quality as follows for Sinussister:
“For over 25 years I struggled with Hay Fever every autumn. None of the medications or shots ever really worked. As a dynamic high school teacher I was always sick for 4 to 6 weeks just when I returned to work after a 2-month summer vacation. My energy levels were very low, my body was a mess, I couldn’t sleep well at night. With regular Shiatsu treatments over a period of 5 years and an amazing nasal rinse with lukewarm water and dissolved sea salt, I finally defeated hay fever for good. Every year when this allergy season begins I get hit with all the symptoms for 48 hours. Then my immune system kicks in strongly and I am free of serious symptoms completely. Shiatsu treatments saved me from a terrible seasonal nightmare!”
Self-help tips for allergies
Below are some self-help tips that like me, you may find helpful:
1. Acupressure Point LI4 (Large Intestine 4): Joining Valley or He Gu 合谷
In the webbing between your thumb and index finger, is a distal acupressure point for relieving pain in your sinuses. This is a nasal decongestive point, which has an antihistamine effect. It opens the descending flow of energy to bring blocked energy downward. Today, He Gu (LI4) is clinically used for stress, facial pain, headaches, toothaches and neck pain. It is located on the highest spot of the muscle when the thumb and index fingers are brought close together. To use acupressure on this point, first locate the point and then use a deep, firm pressure to massage and stimulate the area for 4-5 seconds.
2. Acupressure Point LI20 (Large Intestine 20): Welcome Fragrance or Ying Xiang 迎香
This acupoint can help relieve loss of smell or taste, nasal discharge, any nose a/or sinus issues, nasal polyps, rhinitis, sinusitis and allergies. It is located in the nasolabial groove, level with the midpoint of the lateral border of the nostrils.
3. Acupressure Point GB20 (Gallbladder 20): Wind Pool or Feng Chi 風池
This acupressure point is recommended for headache, migraine, eye blurriness or fatigue, low energy, and cold/flu symptoms. It is located by feeling for the ear bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull. To use acupressure on this point, locate the point and use a deep, firm pressure towards skull to massage and stimulate the area for 4-5 seconds. Clasp your hands together then gently open your palms with your fingers interlocked to form a cup shape, using your thumbs to massage.
When applying acupressure, intend to relax and breathe deeply as you massage the area. The massage and the acupressure can be done by yourself, using the weight of your relaxed head rather than strength.
Build up good bacteria
Additionally, in order to keep beneficial bacteria from becoming depleted and building up good bacteria in the digestive system, you may consume fermented foods and drinks – foods like Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kefir, Naturally Aged Cheeses and drinks like kombucha and water or milk kefir are natural sources of probiotics. My favorites are from Sesame Kitchen: their home made vegan fermented foods, coconut yogurt and miso! I also enjoy eating one salted plum (umeboshi) per day, in warm water, before breakfast because it is useful to clean the blood. Umeboshi plums are very high in iron (important for hemoglobin production, stress reduction and immune function), thiamin (for a healthy nervous system, metabolism and digestion) and riboflavin (helpful for formation of antibodies and cortisol production). These can be found here or try your local organic store. Want to learn more about how to manage your diet? Find out more tips on how to minimize your allergies here!
Contributed by Anne Cousin.