Treating Seasonal & Perennial Allergies Naturally

Seasonal and perennial allergies can really impact the quality of your life depending on the severity. Before coming for treatment some patients reported breathing through the mouth is the only option they have as they are constantly stuffed up, while some report completely avoiding social event for fear of being exposed to a natural or artificial aggravant. This can really dampen your ability to enjoy various seasons and or social gatherings, and ultimately limit your ability to enjoy yourself and partake in your community.

The most common treatment for chronic allergic rhinitis or congestion related to allergies is the use of cortiosteroids; these immediately resolve acute symptoms but can leave you more prone to infection if used long term. Up to 70% of our immune function comes from our first line of defense, the mucous membrane in the nasal and alimentary canal (intestines/gi tract). The use of corticosteroids and other nasal sprays can thin this lining, leaving us without our barrier to infection. Netti Pot has often been heralded for it’s benefits with congestion/sinus issues, but for the same reason should not be used long term. If your congestion does not subside after 1-2 days, it’s time to look for better options that wont leave you at a deficit / more vulnerable to infection!

Conventional Treatments Available & their risks:

  • Intranasal Corticosteroids: increased vulnerability to infection, thinning of skin and mucous membrane, diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, osteoperosis, fungal infection (thrush), nosebleed.

  • Intranasal/Oral Antihistamines: Drowsiness or sleepiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nose, or throat, weight gain, stomach upset, changes in vision, feeling irritable or nervous.

  • Decongestants: irritation of the lining of your nose, headaches, feeling sick or irritable, dry mouth, rash, uncontrollable shaking (tremor), problems sleeping (insomnia).

  • NettiPot: thins and dry’s the mucous membrane in the nasal passage leaving you prone to infection if continued for too long.

Alternatives & some of their risks - Research Below:

  • Acupuncture: contraindicated if a patient has a bleeding disorder or takes blood thinners, Bleeding, bruising, and soreness may occur at the insertion sites, Unsterilized needles may infect the patient, In rare cases, a needle may break and damage an internal organ. - These risks are extremely rare and avoidable with good practice and a qualified practitioner.

  • Stinging Nettle Tea: Occasional side effects include mild stomach upset, fluid retention, sweating, diarrhea, and hives or rash (mainly from topical use). It is important to be careful when handling the nettle plant because touching it can cause an allergic rash.

  • Pre-Histamine Elimination Diet: If unguided risks of creating a vitamin or mineral deficiency.


"The leaves of the plant contain histamine, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), and acetylcholine. Although it may seem inconsistent to use an extract that contains histamine to treat allergic rhinitis, subcutaneous and intravenous injections of histamine have been previously used to treat several allergic conditions such as cold urticaria with associated anaphylaxis, migraine, cluster headache associated with vasomotor rhinitis, penicillin reaction, and allergic arthritis [12]. It is also known that during allergen exposure, low plasma histamine levels, and not high plasma histamine levels, are associated with severe reactions [13]. A prospective, double-blind, comparative study of 69 allergic arthritis patients noted a significant benefit with UD versus placebo [14]. A more recent study also showed that UD inhibited proinflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis by antagonizing histamine 1 receptor, inhibiting prostaglandin (PG) formation and inhibiting degranulation [15]." Read the full review here [article link]


Acupuncture has also shown very promising results for allergic rhinits; something I have discussed and confirmed with allergists who often recommend acupuncture for allergic rhinitis:

"The ACUSAR study (“Acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis”) in Germany, a multi-center study on acupuncture in seasonal allergic rhinitis with 422 patients, has already been concluded. This study examined the efficacy of acupuncture on symptom reduction and improvement of quality of life in comparison to symptomatic therapy with antihistamines and “sham” acupuncture. The results of this study show a statistically significant improvement of quality of life in the verum acupuncture patients [51]. A second study currently being performed in Korea and China with 238 patients and a comparable study design examines the effects of acupuncture on perennial allergic rhinitis [52]. Here already results in the sense of a significant improvement of the rhinitis complaints and the quality of life have been observed [53]. A final evaluation must also first take place.” Read the full article here [link].


Eliminating Foods that contain Histamine or mediate its release; this elimination type of diet is sometimes employed by allergists, but there is some dispute on whether it helps reduce symptoms as the amount of histamines or pre-histamines in these foods are often negligible.

•All fermented foods (soy sauce, soy products, miso etc)
•Seafood (fish, shrimp, lobster, crabs, oyster, mussel, clams etc)
•Fruits sources of histamine: (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cherries, strawberries, raspberry, cranberry, currants, nectarine, apricot, dates, pineapple, raisins, prunes, papaya, peach, plum, fruit jams/jellies)
•Vegetable sources of histamine (tomatoes, eggplant/aubergine, spinach, pumpkin)

•Alcohol (beer, wine, cider, spirits etc. Including foods prepared with alcohol) •Vinegars (include ketchup, mustard, relish, salad dressing and vinegar prepared foods like sauerkraut & pickled foods)
•Tea (herbal and regular)
•Chocolate, cocoa, cola drinks
•Raw egg white (eggnog, hollandaise sauce, milkshake)
•Process, smoked and fermented meats (luncheon meat sausage, weiner, bologna, salami, pepperoni etc.)
•Left over meat (histamine levels build as meat ages. Eat fresh cooked meat) •Fermented cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
•Bleached flour
•Artificial flavors
•Seasoning (cinnamon, chili, cloves, anise, nutmeg, curry powder, paprika, cayenne, food labels that say spice mixes, baking mixes)
•Preservatives (benzoates, sulfites, BHA, BHT)
•Food colorings (Azo dyes). Food coloring can be present in butter/margarine, vitamin/supplement pills etc.

Ask your nutritionist and doctor on how to properly begin an elimination diet program to help you identify the foods that may or may not contribute to your rhinitis. 

wellness, tcm

Treating Anemia [Iron Deficiency] Naturally with Diet


There are many different types of anemia, some related to absorption, others to an increased demand your body is having for iron. For that reason it is really important that if anemia is suspected you obtain/interpret blood tests from your GP. 

This Guide is very comprehensive and will help guide you through what your GP discusses in terms of potential anemia. It's important to note that none of these conditions on their own confirm anemia and that blood tests are really the most accurate form of diagnosis. 

If you are diagnosed with anemia or on the low end of having an iron deficiency, I would advise seeing a dietician or practitioner who will properly be able to guide you through integrating changes in diet back home - as your GP may not have the time to walk you through everything.

Common Symptoms of Anemia Include:

  • Easily Fatigued / Tired / Low Energy

  • Shortness of Breath or Headache

  • Dizziness / Light headed on standing

  • Pale Skin / Palor Complexion

  • Leg Cramps

  • Insomnia / Difficulty sleeping



  • Tannin rich products inhibit absorption - mainly limit tea and coffee if you drink these regularly. Other examples include: grapes, pomegranates, apples, barley, nuts, chocolate, and many legumes.

  • Phytates - A type fiber can reduce iron absorption by up to 80%. Some examples are: almonds, beans, brazil nuts, hazel nuts, lentils, corn, peanuts, peas, rice, sesame seeds, soybeans, tofu, walnuts, wheat.

  • Calcium can also affect iron absorption. However note that If you are taking calcium for other issues you can just take it a few hours after you've eaten OR at bedtime.

  • Disrupt Iron Balance: Alcohol, Animal fats & Refined Sugar.


  • Vitamin C rich foods which helps with absorption, such as: brasaic vegetables (Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), Green/Red peppers, Spinach, cabbage, turnips, citrus fruits like orange and lemon etc.

  • B12 rich foods like, which helps in the production of iron, like: animal liver or kidney, clams, beef, tuna, trout, fortified nutritional yeast.

  • Iron rich foods - animal liver, red meats, pumpkin seeds, spinach, shellfish, beans and lentils. 


From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective certain foods can help improve the quantity and quality of blood. Combatting Iron deficiency anemia by tonifying the organs related to the production of blood in the body. See the list below and try incorporating some of these blood building foods into your diet in addition to the above recommendations.

  • Grains - barley, oats, corn

  • Vegetables - alfalfa sprouts, artichoke, beetroot, cabbage, celery, dark leafy greens, shiitake mushroom, spinach, watercress.

  • Fruits - apple, apricot, dates, fig, mulberry, go ji berry,

  • Beans - aduki, black soya, kidney; nuts/seeds - black sesame and almonds.

  • Meat - all red meats especially bone marrow and liver of beef/pork/sheep, eggs.

  • Herbs - nettle root, parsley.

  • Condiments - molasses; Beverages - soya milk. 


Stinging nettle is a herb that may help build blood from a TCM perspective; though there is limited research into whether it actually helps with anemia from a allopathic perspective. In the beginning try small amounts to see how well tolerated this tea is for you.


Tumeric [Curcumin]: Natures Anti-Inflammatory & How to Use


Curcumin, primarily found in turmeric, is a powerful medicinal plant belonging to the same genus/family as the ginger plant. It is usually found dried, ground up and used as spice to enhance the flavour and hue of many curries and cuisines. However the naturally occurring curcuminoids in turmeric have been shown to have many benefits, most notably it’s affects as an anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant. These benefits have been extremely well documented and researched - see below for more information with links to peer-reviewed articles on this topic. 



Our bodies inflammation response is completely natural, helping the body fight off disease and infection. However, when the body enters a state of chronic inflammation - or prolonged inflammation, it can contribute to a number of chronic pathologies such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. For that reason, if you suspect your body is under a state of consistent inflammation (i.e. from injury or stress) or would like to help bolster and protect the body from such a response, finding ways to lower inflammation is advantageous. Curcumin has been found to receive inflammation in the body by inhibiting the activity of enzymes involved in this process (1).

One peer reviewed study compares the anti-inflammatory effects of several compounds - like aspirin and ibuprofen, two commonly prescribed medications to treat inflammation - and found they were the least effective while curcumin extract was most effective in combatting the inflammatory response (2).

The implications of the known anti-flammatory effects of curcumin could have potential benefit in treating other inflammatory related conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, asthma as well as getting the body quicker out of inflammation as a result of injury (3). Curcumin has also been found to be have impact on joint pain overall - especially relevant for those suffering from osteo and rheumatoid arthritis by acting as a natural pain killer (4); as well as having implications in reducing nerve related pain (5).


When choosing a supplement aim to find one that contains piperine (a natural compound found in black pepper); traditionally black pepper was added to dishes and ayurvedic recipes to increase the absorption of the turmeric (curcumin) One animal study found that the combination of curcumin and piperine together increased the bioavailability of cur cumin by a whopping 2000% (1) . There is also evidence that fermented versions, and varieties adding fats to this product have higher bioavailability (2). 


Though a generally safe to consume product be mindful and consult your health care practitioner in you experience - nausea, diarrhea, low blood sugar, increased bleeding, fertility issues, or increased menstrual flow. These are some of the most common side-effects associated with cur cumin use but generally it’s well tolerated (1). If you are anemic, you may want to exercise additional caution in your consumption; one study found that there was a possible association with iron absorption and curcumin consumption (2). If you are on diabetes medication or blood thinners be sure to consult with your physician before using these products as there are potential drug interactions. 


Adding curcumin to your diet is relatively straight forward, make sure to see the precautions section to ensure that this is the right choice of inflammation fighting supplement for you (i.e. that you dont have any drug interactions or are anemic). Whether using natural tumeric or a supplement make sure that it includes pepperine (pepper) to increase the bioavailability and get the most benefit out of this naturual product.

You can use Tumeric in your cooking, especially suited to making rich curry dishes, but you can use it as seasoning on baked/cooked meats as well - again making sure to add a pinch of pepper to get the most benefit. I’ve included a recipe for one of the ways Tumeric has been enjoyed traditionally - ‘Golden Milk’ - this tumeric infused latte is soothing and a great way to include it in your diet if you aren’t going to use it as a cooking spice or buy a supplement.


  • 1 cup of organic coconut milk (buy organic full-fat coconut milk in a bpa-free can )

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric 

  • big pinch of freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 small (1/4 inch) piece of ginger root (peeled and grated)

  • big pinch of ground cardamom (optional)

  • 1/4 teaspoon raw honey added off the heat (optional)

Method: Blend / Whisk all ingredients then warm on the stove. Simmer (do not boil) for 15 minutes if using ground turmeric powder (see notes above). You can blend the ingredients manually by hand or in a high-steed blender for a frothier drink.

tcm, wellness

Before & After Treatment: The Do's & Don'ts


  • KNOW YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY - Be aware of your past medical history; time spent recalling can take away from valuable minutes on the treatment table. Make sure to share any major life incidents as well as current symptoms, so that your practitioner has a complete picture of your health.

  • MEDICATIONS & SUPPLEMENTS - It's vital that your practitioner has this information, especially with regards to pharmaceuticals. Sharing this information is important to avoid possible bad reactions to the use of Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine. Quick Tip: Take pictures with your phone of each medication/supplement you are currently taking to show your practitioner.

  • WEAR LOOSE/COMFORTABLE CLOTHS - Tight clothing not only can be uncomfortable during treatment, but more importantly can obstruct the flow/circulation we are trying to induce in Acupuncture and other therapies. Some acupuncture points can be difficult to reach on their own, adding tight clothes can take away from the flow of treatment, making it even more difficult to reach these points.

  • AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can skew the overall presentation of your constitution, but also will make it more difficult for you to settle into the treatment.

  • NO TONGUE BRUSHING/SCRAPPING - In Traditional Chinese Medicine tongues are observed and looked at as one of our diagnostic tools. We look at the body, shape, coat and any other features we observe. Brushing / Scrapping your tongue before treatment removes a part of the picture we use to diagnose.

  • EAT BEFORE YOU TREAT - Coming to an Acupuncture treatment on an empty stomach can result in nausea, lightheadedness, and in extreme cases fainting (i.e. in a hypoglycemic patient). Avoid this by having a small meal or snack before treatment - Try not to over eat as this can have a similar effect and take away from your treatment.

  • ARRIVE 15MIN EARLY - Simple but overlooked, arriving 10-15 minutes early (especially for initial clients) ensures that any paper work or checking in doesn't take away from your treatment time. Also your practitioner will love it when you're patients on time!


  • PLAN ON RELAXING - Commit to doing nothing, or at least limiting activity after your treatment. Instead plan on relaxing on your own; preferably in a horizontal position as you'll likely welcome the idea of laying on a bed or couch for some much needed 'you time'.

  • AVOID SCATTERING THE MIND - Avoid things and activities that can take away from the stillness and relaxation of your treatment. Use this time in stillness to exercise your power over things like technology, cell phones, tablets and strenuous mental work.

  • LIGHT EXERCISE ONLY - Acupuncture and other manual therapies can leave the body it's tendons, ligaments, muscles looser and more limber. Doing strenuous exercise or lifting heavy weights can lead to injury as your range of motion is more open than before; you risk over extension in joints as well as harming ligaments. Exercise should be light - things like tai chi, qi gong or yin yoga are more appropriate at this time.

  • AVOID TAKING STIMULANTS - Restrain or limit stimulant intake such as coffee/caffiene, alcohol, cigarettes etc before treatment. Stimulants like this can make it more difficult for you to settle into the effects treatment.

  • EAT A NOURISHING MEAL - Use this post treatment meal as an opportunity to continue the healing. Acupuncture helps move qi/blood/circulation and detoxify, don't undo that work with a hard to process meal (i.e. greasy, fried, fatty, mucous forming food).


  • ASK PRACTITIONER DIET/LIFESTYLE ADVICE - A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner is a cornicopia of not only treatment knowledge but prevention. Practitioners may sometimes hold back from overwhelming clients with lifestyle advice, (1) because they know lifestyle changes can be difficult to achieve, and (2) because patient compliance, or how much advice the patient is able to incorporate in their lives, is extremely variable. Asking your practitioner for lifestyle tips will cue them, and show that you are ready to take the next steps towards your health/wellbeing.

  • GET REGULAR TREATMENTS - Whatever the ailment is you can assume that you will need some consistency and a reasonable frequency of treatments. This is especially true of chronic conditions; generally speaking the more long standing an issue is the more treatments will be required. Talk to your practitioner about a treatment plan, so you can get a general idea of what the road to recovery looks like (i.e. how many treatments, frequency, lifestyle/diet changes etc).

  • CREATE A SELF CARE JOURNAL - Use a journal to be more aware of your experiences and feelings; with regards to getting treatments journals can help you evaluate what has and hasn't worked for you. Try using numeric scales where applicable i.e. Pain in shoulder in May was 9/10, June 6/10.

tcm, wellness

Hydrotherapy for Pain, Swelling & Detoxification


  • DETOXIFICATION & SPRING TIME - The spring is the best time to try detoxifying techniques like hydrotherapy. Spring is also the time of the Liver, and a great time to start anew.

  • INFLAMMATION & SPORTS INJURY - Aches and pains, bruising, inflammation, attributed to help with pain management, as well as improving circulation in areas applied.

  • SWELLING / PUFFINESS / WATER RETENTION - Hydrotherapy helps manually pump lymph glands; one of our primary systems of elimination, aiding in its process of filtration - swollen limbs, edema, puffiness and inflammation can be reduced with Hydrotherapy.


This technique uses hot and cold water to move and mobilize blood. Applying hot water expands blood vessels and moves lymph fluid, blood circulation increases superficially in the extremities. Alternating to cold water contracts blood vessels, moving the blood and fluids inwards towards organs. The alternating between hot and cold creates an external pump moving blood inwards and outwards; improving circulation and aiding in lymphatic filtration.


(local swelling/Injury)

IN THE SHOWER (detox/inflammation)


Fill a basin or tub with hot water to the furthest you can tolerate - without causing pain or burning. Dunk area i.e. elbow, foot, limb in tub for 3-5min.


Fill a tub 50-75% ice and add cold water - depending how much you can tolerate. Soak limb here for 1-2 minutes.


Repeat this technique 2-4times (30min-45min) daily or immediately following exercise for best results.


Raise your showers heat gradually to the furthest you can tolerate - without causing pain or burning. Make sure to increase heat gradually to avoid burns.


Change the water temperature to the coldest setting you can tolerate- bathe here for 2-3min minutes soaking and brushing all areas thoroughly.


Repeat this exercise 2-3 times (12min-18min) daily with your first shower of the day.

tcm, wellness

Preparing Your TCM Herbal Formula: Decocting at Home


There are many ways herbal medicines have been prepared over the ages (e.g. tinctures - alcohol based, syrups - sugar based, balms & liniments, pills and granules). Decocting (Herbal Tea) is one of these methods, using water to draw out therapeutic properties of herbs - These are the finer details to decocting in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Use this guide for best results. 


The best choice for decocting is a glazed Ceramic or Glass pot - you can find these in you local China Town. if you don't have a ceramic/glass pot, not to worry you can use a stainlesss steel pot too [try to avoid using Teflon, and especially do not cast Iron pots which can react negatively with herbs].


  • STEEP - Cover herbs in water by about 2 inches.

  • ADD HERBS & SOAK - Optionally soak herbal formula in water for 30min*

  • BOIL - Cover formula (to prevent loss of essential oils) and bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 20-30minutes

  • STRAIN - Strain with cheesecloth or fine collander and separate fluid from and herbs. Save herbs for resteeping.

Soaking herbs is optional. Be sure to add herbs in order instructed
by your practitioner*


  • RE-STEEP YOUR FORMULA! - Enjoy your formula a second or even third time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the first steeping is said to effect the patient on the qi level (more superficial in nature); while the second and third steeping can bring the formula deeper into what's known as the blood level (innermost level).

  • TEA TOO BITTER? - Many Chinese formulas are delicious and have a rich flavor profile, however there are some that can taste very bitter or unpleasant. When the correct formula is prescribed the patient will often develop a taste for the once unpleasant tea. But in the event that you 'just cant' there are a few options: (1) water down and consume in a few cups versus one, (2) honey can also be added to sweeten the formula with consent from your practitioner.

  • WHEN TO TAKE FORMULA? - Herbal formulas are best taken 1-2 hours before eating to maximize the digestion and absorption of the herbs. Sedating formulas for calming should be taken a few hours before bedtime.

tcm, wellness

Hickey Removal Guide: Getting Rid of Cupping Therapy Marks Quickly

If for whatever reason you need those cupping marks gone quickly, here are my tips for cupping hickey / blemish removal. Using things you already have at home, I show you how to help break up and loosen blood in the area, assist in healing, and of course help quickly disperse any marks left from cupping.


AT HOME GUASHA - Take any object with a smoothed edge (e.g. a ceramic wonton spoon, the side of your phone, thick plastic mixing spoon); press the object gentle into the area and move it along the area  while keeping consistent pressure, in stroking gestures. This helps move pooled blood, and makes the bruise less conspicuous.

TRY ESSENTIAL OILS - Essential Oils such as frankincense, myrrh and peppermint have an stimulating effect dilating blood vessels. This improved circulation helps to heal the blood capillaries, and thereby the blemishes from cupping therapy and gua sha. Apply the essential oil gradually; there may be tingling as the oils start to move blood in the area.

ALOE VERA -  Aloe Vera which is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and healing properties, and can reduce sensitivity of the affected area. Also, it has soothing qualities that boost the healing of the broken capillaries.

VITAMIN K - Try a lotion or cream with Vitamin K; known for having a potent anti-coagulating effect that prevents the clotting of blood and aids in the re-absorption of pooled blood.

SCRUB / LOOFAH - While having a shower, use a loofah with some soapy water in the shower and gently scrub the affected areas. Repeat the process for 5 to 10 minutes. Brushing helps to stimulate blood flow on the hickey, ensuring that the clot is reabsorbed faster. Importantly, apply a cold compress to the area after brushing.

HYDROTHERAPY - Contrasting-hydrotherapy aids in circulation of blood and lymph, detoxification, swelling, inflammation, sprains and strains and other sports injury application. The improved circulatory funciton and manual pumping of blood, can help speed up healing of cupping/gua sha hickeys. Use [this guide] to try contrasting hydrotherapy at home.

COLD COMPRESS - Use some ice cubs wrapped in cloth or freeze some spoons and apply; gently rub the affected area. This helps to break the blood clots, which constrict and freezes the ruptured blood capillaries, improving blood circulation and swellings. 

HOT COMPRESS -  Heat is extremely efficient in dilating the blood capillaries and help to ensure a flow of fresh blood to the hickey, which clears the clot. To use this method, take a warm towel and apply it on the affected area for about five minutes; repeat the process three times every day to aid in fast hickey removal.