After I read the March 15 article about seasonal allergies (“Allergies common in Santa Cruz County,” Page 11), I was struck by the lack of mention of alternative treatments for allergy sufferers. There are many safe, effective, natural and nonprescription options for allergy treatment that are far more effective than the traditional western approach of pills, inhalers and steroids.
I lived in Boulder Creek for six years. While I loved living under the redwoods, I was definitely allergic to something in the valley. I had nasal and chest congestion that got progressively worse, eventually developing asthma. My doctor recommended Zyrtec or Claritin. Zyrtec made me dangerously sleepy and didn’t really help with the chest congestion. Claritin was a little better, but not much. I got an expensive prescription inhaler for the asthma. That helped with the wheezing, but not the nasal congestion.
In frustration, I returned to my doctor, who fortunately was open-minded enough to recommend that I try going to a local acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine specialist in Boulder Creek. I was skeptical, but willing to try anything. It turned out to be the best advice I’ve ever gotten. Within a couple of weeks, I dumped the Claritin and the inhaler and never had to use them again. Within a few months, I was symptom free.
In addition to the traditional acupuncture needle treatment (which was entirely painless and very relaxing), my acupuncturist recommended daily sinus washes with a neti pot and saline rinse. I resisted at first, because it just seemed too weird to pour water up my nose, but I was amazed at how easy it was and how quickly my nasal congestion cleared up. The neti pot really works, and you can get one at the drugstore or the grocery store.
My acupuncturist also put me on a simple regimen of natural herbs to strengthen my lungs and make them better able to resist allergic reactions. At her recommendation, I took the herbs for about eight months, and I went from having asthma so bad it would wake me up in the middle of the night to being 100 percent symptom free.
Acupuncture may not work for everyone, but it is worth a try if you are tired of taking only partially effective prescription and over-the-counter medications that have unpleasant side effects and treat only symptoms, rather than the underlying cause. I experienced many other health benefits with acupuncture. I’m so glad I overcame my initial skepticism, because it was literally life changing.
Mary Spadaro, San Francisco