This is inflammation of the inside of the nose caused by an allergen, such as pollen, dust, mould or flakes of skin from certain animals. It’s a very common condition, estimated to affect around 1 in every 5 people in the UK. It is defined by the WHO as a chronic airway inflammatory disease. It is the result of the immune system reacting to the presence of particular allergens.
Symptoms are usually cold-like, such as sneezing, runny or blocked nose, nasal discharge and itchiness. They often appear soon after exposure to an allergen. For some people it can be seasonal, coinciding with spring/summer and the appearance of flower and grass pollen, for others, it can occur all year round.
In Chinese medicine, it is classified as a nasal bloackage caused by pathogenic Cold or Heat invading the Lung due to Lung-Qi deficiency. This arises due to a weakness or deficiency of Wei Qi (Defensive Qi). Usually, they will be combined with Wind, which can easily invade the Lung.
It is commonly and successfully treated with a combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. Common Chinese medicinal herbs used in the treatment of allergic rhinitis include:
- Xin Yi Hua (Flos Magnoliae)
- Huang Qi (Radix Astragali)
- Cang Er Zi (Fructus Xanthii)
- Huang Qin (Radix Scutellariae)
- Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae)
- Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi)
- Fang Feng (Radix Saposhnikoviae)
This is inflammation of the inside of the nose which is not caused by an allergen. The symptoms are very similar to the allergic type but also include irritation and discomfort in and around the nose and a reduced sense of smell. Inflammation usually results from a swelling of local blood vessels and a build up of fluid in the tissues of the nose.
Possible causes of non-allergic rhinitis include viral infections such as a cold, environmental factors (extremes of temperature or humidity), exposure to toxins such as smoke or noxious fumes, hormonal imbalances or medicines affecting hormone levels such as HRT.
Although Western medicine classifies rhinitis into two categories, the Chinese medicine approach treats the causes of both types as the result of either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat invasion of the Lung due to deficient Lung-Qi. Sometimes, there may also be involvement of Dampness.
Chinese medicine treatment principles remain the same, a combination of acupuncture and medicinal herbs, many of which are the same as those listed above.
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