It's fall ragweed season and if that stuffy nose and sinus pain are making you miserable, you might find relief in ancient Chinese medicine. Jamie Starkey is an acupuncturist at Cleveland Clinic. She said stimulating different points on the body with tiny needles, or your even fingertips, may provide some quick relief.
Seasonal snifflers who got needled by an acupuncturist 12 times over the course of 8 weeks showed more improvement in their symptoms and used medication less frequently than people who didn’t get acupuncture or got a sham treatment, according to one clinical trial published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that acupuncture treatments can help bring the body into balance. Preliminary Western research, meanwhile, suggests that these strategically placed needles may help control inflammation by reining in various chemicals that contribute to an allergic reaction.
"Clinical studies in the acupuncture field are showing that stimulating these various acupuncture points help to promote an antihistamine effect," explained Starkey. Acupuncture is a practice where hair-thin needles are inserted into "acu-points" on the body to treat or prevent illness. Starkey uses acupuncture to treat allergy symptoms like a stuffy nose, sinus headaches and sinus pressure. As part of a treatment plan, she also teaches "acu-pressure," an off-shoot of acupuncture where you use your fingers, or another small object, to apply pressure instead of needles. She said acu-pressure is easy to learn and you can do it anywhere.
For allergy relief, there are two places on your face where you apply gentle, firm pressure. The first spot is at the base of your nose and you use your index fingers to press and hold to relieve sinus pressure. The second spot involves pressing at the top of each inner eyebrow to help relieve pressure in your forehead. Gently press and hold each spot for about three minutes. Starkey said many people feel instant relief.
"You'll feel your nose opening up if you have some nasal congestion. You'll feel the pressure relief in your head, oftentimes headaches will go away so sometimes patients will often feel immediate relief," Starkey explained. Starkey said most people don't experience any side effects from acupressure and it's generally considered very safe, however there are certain points that pregnant women should avoid. Expecting mothers should consult with a professional before applying treatment themselves.