Got Allergies? Find Relief With Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture treatment

April showers bring May flowers...along with itchy eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing for allergy sufferers. Tree, grass, and pollen allergies run rampant in the spring months, leaving us more likely to be found in the pharmacy aisle than enjoying the great outdoors. Fortunately, acupuncture can greatly reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies and in some cases can even prevent them before they become a problem.  

Traditional Acupuncture 

Treatment traditionally involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles (with minimal or no discomfort) into the surface of the skin at strategic points all over the body to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue, working to regulate the body’s immune response to allergens to reduce inflammation in our sinuses and airways, thereby helping to reduce mucus production and reduce congestion.  Treatment is highly customized and is based on each individual’s symptoms. Often, people will experience relief from congestion immediately following treatment. 

Allergy-specific acupuncture sessions typically treat: 

  • Asthma 

  • Congestion 

  • Mucus/phlegm 

  • Sinus issues 

  • Excessive coughing 

  • Excessive sneezing 

  • Headaches 

In one German study, acupuncture over an 8-week period was found to be more effective than antihistamine medication, and patients receiving acupuncture actually needed less medication at the end of the study and reported higher well-being scores.  

While receiving consistent acupuncture year-round or before your allergy symptoms start is ideal to help lessen or eliminate symptoms before Springtime hits. However, starting regular treatments even when symptoms are at their worst.  If allergies are something that have been a lifelong problem, it will take some time to “reprogram” the body so that it doesn’t overreact when the pollen counts soar.  

Alternatives to Needles 
Not so sure about needles? Even the faintest of hearts usually have no issues with the super fine needles used in acupuncture.  The extremely slender-size (a fine hair’s width), paired with shallow insertion and a skilled hand means very minimal, if any pain.  However, we understand that for some, needles may seem non-negotiable.  Acupuncture may also involve techniques such as cupping, acupressure, moxibustion (or heat therapy), gua-sha, warming or cooling plasters, liniments and herbal medicine.  When it comes to allergies, cupping provides one alternative to needles that can provide benefits to reduce help allergy symptoms. 

Cupping is a form of non-invasive acupuncture that involves placing a cup along meridian pathways and specific areas of the body. This method creates a strong suction which increases circulation, draws out toxins, and generally improves qi (energy) flow.  

During a typical cupping session, a sterilized glass cup is heated up, then placed directly against the skin. The cup starts to create a vacuum, pulling the skin up as the steam cools. For allergy relief, cups are generally placed on and around the lung area, as this helps draw out toxins, remove stagnant energy, and clear out phlegm and other blockages that affect breathing. The lungs are simultaneously soothed and stimulated, as this method increases blood flow and oxygen to the area for rapid healing and recovery.  

The cups can be left for 10-20 minutes in one place or moved around the body. Patients usually find this to be a relaxing experience similar to massage. Areas of the body that have an excessive amount of stagnation tend to bruise or discolor, which may surprise those who are new to the practice. Rest assured that this is a very natural response to the treatment and is nothing to be concerned about. 

Cupping Treatment

Cupping Treatment

Common types of cupping include: 

  • Dry cupping: This popular method relies on heat, or an attached air pump, to rapidly suction the skin.  

  • Fire cupping: As its name suggests, fire cupping involves heating the cups with a “flash” of fire (initiated with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball).  

Although cupping can be used as a standalone treatment, it’s usually considered to be complementary to more traditional, needle-based acupuncture treatments.  Ideally, cupping is administered after the needles are removed to enhance qi flow.  However, if cupping seems like a more comfortable, option to get started comfort zone to get started, it can serve as vehicle to being receiving acupuncture treatments. 

In addition to reducing the symptoms of allergies, acupuncture helps boost immunity and detoxify the body, which may help you avoid coughs, colds, and allergies altogether! For best results, treatments should be regular and frequent. In China, treatment is often administered daily for maximum benefit, with maintenance sessions thereafter. 

Interested?  This 4-session package of 30-minute treatments is an ideal way realize the benefits of acupuncture, be it to help ease the acute symptoms of allergies or to address other concerns such as pain, digestion, or general immune system support.  When scheduling, be sure to take into account the need to schedule treatments relatively close together for the best results, no more than 4-7 days apart for maximum benefit. 

Feel free to reach out either of our locations by phone (NE Irvington: 503-288-7668 / NW Slabtown: 503-292-7668) or email ( to discuss options or to book an appointment.  You can also book a no cost 15-minute ‘Meet Your Doctor’ consultation with one of our Licensed Acupuncturists to learn more:  Jon Conant, Casey McCullough or Dr. Nicole Kilian.