Overcoming Allergies and Asthma
March 26, 2018 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Learn the underlying causes of allergies and asthma and how to reverse them using beneficial foods and supplements that support all body systems…
Srinika Narayan: Hi. I’m Srinika Narayan, at Srinika Healing, and thank you so much for tuning in. Tonight, we’re going to be talking about allergies and asthma, and I’m here at my Albany office with my colleague, Marie Bowser, who is a licensed acupuncturist. Marie, do you want to tell us a little bit about your practice?
Marie Bowser: Yeah. I practice Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, and acupuncture in the East Bay, specifically in Albany, just down the street from Srinika, and it’s spring time, and I’m seeing a lot of allergy patients in my office right now.
Srinika Narayan: So, yeah. We are going to be talking about allergies and asthma, because it’s a growing problem in this country. 30 percent of kids and adults have allergies, and eight percent have asthma, and that number is really just growing. So, from a Chinese medicine perspective, if you could tell us a little bit about what’s going on with allergies.
Marie Bowser: I see allergies from a variety of standpoints, from a Chinese medicine perspective. One of them is this idea of chi deficiency. When we don’t have enough chi, or energy, in the body, we’re not fueling certain body systems adequately, and one of them is our immunity. Chinese medicine sees our immunity as a cloud of protective energy around us, and when we don’t have enough energy, we’re not fueling that protective energy, so we can become more susceptible to things like allergens, wind, and then we get symptoms like red eyes, sneezing, sort of the classic allergy symptoms.
There’s another layer to this, which is the function of the liver. The liver has the job of processing toxins, processing pharmaceuticals, alcohol. It also has the job of processing stress. So, when … It also has the job of processing allergens, so when we’re dealing with stress, and we’re drinking, and we’re taking pharmaceuticals, and then the pollen kicks up, allergies can be a little bit more challenging to deal with.
There’s another layer to this, which is the health of the gut. There are certain foods that irritate the gut lining, and when the gut lining becomes irritated, it’s more susceptible to large proteins from food sneaking through the gut lining and into the bloodstream. It is then the job of the liver to process those larger proteins. So, as I said, if we’ve got a stressed liver, like literally dealing with life stress, if we’re then processing environmental toxins, other things like allergens, and then we add these large proteins, it creates a perfect storm. So, all of these things come together.
Srinika Narayan: Okay. Well, great.
Marie Bowser: What about you? How does nutritional response testing look at these … look at allergens?
Srinika Narayan: Yeah, so, basically we’re doing muscle testing to find out, what are the big organs that come up. And the big organ is, like you said, liver. It coincides with Chinese medicine. So, same thing. Liver, basically, is processing so much, and when it gets congested, then it has to kind of release itself somehow, and if it’s not able to release some of these allergens and toxins in the bowel, then it’s going to start coming out kind of in the sinuses and mucous membranes. So, then what we have is allergies.
Secondly, I find thyroid and adrenals come up. And like you talked about, the body should be producing a cloud of protective energy, well, the thyroid and adrenals are big for producing all kinds of energy. Energy for vitality, but also immunity energy, basically, and so when these are weak, then a lot of times it’s much easier to get allergies.
And what’s bothering … some of these toxins that are bothering the liver, and the thyroid and adrenals, generally I’ve found to be heavy metals, electromagnetic frequencies, and certain chemicals. Well, it could be any chemicals, but definitely things like asbestos can affect it, and pesticides. Things we inhale, and then just get caught in our system, and then we start getting these allergic type of symptoms.
So, usually the way I counsel people is to just start, even on their own, eating foods that are really good for the liver. Foods that can clean out the liver will clean out some of these other toxins, and make the liver better able to process natural allergens like pollen.
Those foods generally are vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are really good for cleaning out the liver. That would be like kale, or broccoli, Brussels sprouts. And then liver-cleaning herbs. Either I can give it to them, or people can do this on their own. Just go to a store, look for milk thistle, burdock root, dandelion. All of those just help to clean out the liver, and then people can start just feeling better. They will have much less mucus going on.
Electromagnetic frequencies are also a big one that show up, and there are some very easy tips people can do to reduce how much they’re receiving, basically. A big one would be switching a cell phone off at night. Don’t have any cell phones on in the room at night. If you want to use it for an alarm clock, just put it on airplane mode. Very simple. Also, don’t leave any computers or iPads on in the room at night, not even on sleep mode. Shut them off.
Things at night really affect the liver. The liver is active at night, and so these are times to kind of protect the liver by not having any kind of things that bother it on in the room.
If this still doesn’t help with allergies, then often times it is a case of heavy metals. You’re not going to know that, but basically, those are situations where it’s really helpful to seek the advice of a professional, come in for the nutritional analysis, and then we can test for, hey, what will start pulling that out of the system in a safe but effective way?
So, yeah, Marie. Tell me more about how you coach people.
Marie Bowser: Well, initially, we want to boost that cloud of protective chi, and we do that through acupuncture, making the body more efficient, and then there are also certain herbs that will help with that. There’s a Chinese herbal formula called Jade Windscreen, which is really powerful for helping patients deal with allergy symptoms. It’s a preventative formula. Its primary ingredient is astragalus, so I find that when my patients are taking that, they’re a little bit less susceptible.
I also think it’s a great idea to sort of minimize exposure to pollen. So, if you’re a really sensitive patient, you want to be careful with … If you’re sleeping with your animals, you might want to be careful about doing that. Maybe taking a shower at night, so you’re not sleeping in the pollen, and then also using a neti pot to rinse the nasal passages. That helps to just eliminate the exposure to the pollen.
And then, certainly we want the liver to be strong and healthy, and you talking about sleep. From a Chinese medicine perspective, the liver regenerates from 1 AM to 3 AM, and that, really from 11 PM to 3 AM is a really critical time for the liver to be resting, regenerating, and if you’re not getting good sleep, the liver is sometimes impacted negatively.
We also want to just give the liver a little bit of a rest. If you find that you’re really having a hard time with allergies, I suggest backing off on alcohol consumption, backing off on anything unnecessary that your liver wouldn’t ordinarily need to process.
I also really like simple herbs, like chrysanthemum. That helps to sort of relieve that red, itchy eyes, or sneezing. Adding some goji berries into the tea can help with red, itchy eyes. Sometimes, for more simple, less severe cases of allergies, I find people respond well to that. Certainly, vitamin C is helpful, and then …
Oh, and certainly, as I mentioned, foods that exacerbate the gut lining. That includes gluten, which is commonly found in wheat, as well as dairy. Often sugar. Those all create inflammation in the gut, and allow those larger proteins to come through. It’s so sad to hear it, but taking those things out of the diet can really alleviate allergy symptoms. That’s probably my top piece of advice.
Srinika Narayan: Yeah, yeah. Those can be big helps.
Marie Bowser: Yeah.
Srinika Narayan: And then, tell me about asthma. How does Chinese medicine view asthma? Is it a lot different than allergies, or is it deeper than allergies?
Marie Bowser: I see asthma as a slightly more intense version of allergies. It’s more of a deficiency. The lung is a little bit more involved. I also see the kidney as having significant involvement in asthma.
Srinika Narayan: Okay.
Marie Bowser: And what about you?
Srinika Narayan: Yeah, certainly lungs and adrenals. Well, in Chinese medicine, they talk about the kidneys, and they don’t actually mention the adrenals, but they probably mean it as a combined unit. They are combined, kidneys and adrenals.
Marie Bowser: Yeah.
Srinika Narayan: So, yeah. And yes, same things bothering these organs, but stuck even more. So, yeah. Are there things, like different herbs you use for asthma?
Marie Bowser: Yeah. So, for asthma, I would be looking at usually a more custom formula, something more robust than some of the things I mentioned, for asthma. But things that people could try, just more simple herbs, I really like the herb cordyceps for lung health, and for wheezing. I also really like schisandra, which it’s super supportive to both the lungs as well as the kidneys.
And then foods like pear are supportive to the lungs, and walnuts are supportive to the lungs and the kidneys. So, yeah. Those are some of the big ones for asthma. And certainly also staying away from the gluten, the dairy, the sugar.
Srinika Narayan: Same ones.
Marie Bowser: Yeah.
Srinika Narayan: Same big three.
Marie Bowser: Yep.
Srinika Narayan: Yeah. You know, what I’ve found with asthma and adrenal health, basically, again, lack of sleep being one big thing that affects the adrenals, and then can exacerbate things like asthma. And coffee is another one. Too much coffee. And that’s all relative. Each person, what’s too much? But more than a cup of coffee a day, generally, people react to, and it starts to wear down the adrenals, and therefore starts to affect asthma, or make asthma worse.
Wheat sensitivities, for sure. And then, again, heavy metal is a big one. The things that get lodged in both the lungs and the adrenals.
Marie Bowser: People talk a lot about adrenal fatigue. Is that something you also treat?
Srinika Narayan: Yes, definitely. And adrenal fatigue can manifest as allergies and asthma, too, as well as fatigue, and a lot of it are these issues. Some food sensitivities, heavy metals blocking the adrenals. Thyroid issues. If the thyroid is weak, then it makes the adrenals have to work harder, so that can lead to adrenal fatigue. All of those things that help the adrenals can basically help with adrenal fatigue, asthma.
There are things called adaptogens, and I think, actually, schisandra might be an adaptogen. But things like ginseng, rhodiola, ashwagandha, they all help the adrenals kind of function better, or regulate themselves, and across the board, those seem to help people in many, many ways. So, yeah, I definitely suggest those herbs often, too.
Marie Bowser: Nice.
Srinika Narayan: So, yeah. But in terms of top suggestions for allergies and asthma, my suggestions would be really cutting down on dairy, just because it’s such a mucus-producing type of food. Stopping electromagnetic frequencies at night. It really is super important. People don’t realize. I’m like, “It will make a big difference in your health.” Liver-cleansing herbs. Liver-cleansing vegetables. And, yeah. Those are the biggies. So, yeah.
Any final thoughts, Marie?
Marie Bowser: Yeah. So, my top suggestions for dealing with asthma and allergies are eliminate sugar, wheat, and dairy. Use the immunity-boosting herbs, like astragalus. Keep your stress low. Make sure your liver function is strong. You can do that with things like meditation, or acupuncture. Adding kidney-strengthening herbs, like schisandra, and walnuts, and then also lung-strengthening herbs, like schisandra, cordyceps, and walnuts.
Srinika Narayan: Wonderful.
Marie Bowser: Yeah.
Srinika Narayan: Cool. Great. Thank you so much, Marie.
Marie Bowser: Yeah. Great conversation. Thanks for having me.