Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas! - May the Christmas cheer offset your sneezy blues. Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

5 Tips For Allergy-Friendly Christmas Decoration

Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! I am sure many of us are basking in the Christmas mood with Christmas shopping and decoration at home. If you have allergic rhinitis or a sensitive nose, you have to be a little more careful when doing up that Christmas decor at home so that you don't end up with A-cho-cho-cho A-cho-cho-cho! Here's some useful tips:

1) Use an artificial Christmas tree. Dust and pollen are possible triggers for your allergies in live trees. Some may also be allergic to the tree sap or fragrance from certain types of trees.

2) Never use scented candles. It could irritate your nose and cause respiratory problems. You can opt for 100% pure essential oil to create the scent or use unscented beeswax candle to create the atmosphere.

3) Keep an eye on mold growth especially if you have any fresh indoor plants or flowers (e.g Poinsettias) as moist soil are breeding ground for mold. Breathing in the mold spores could cause your nose to act up and irritate those with sensitive airways.

4) Wipe the Christmas decors with slightly damp cloth to remove dust. Wearing a mask while cleaning is advisable.

5) Store your Christmas decor items in zip lock bags. This will minimize dust from accumulating and triggering your sneeze the next time you use it.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Winter Action Plan For Allergies

Winter is a time when you spend more time indoors. While the pollen allergy season maybe over, those with allergy to dust mite, mold and pet dander will need to be more cautious as spending more time indoor means greater exposure to these allergens as well.

Winter Action Plan For Allergies

1) Get rid of carpets, as they trap allergens like pet dander and dust mite. But if you must keep it, then see (2).

2) Vacuum more often with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Here's a guide on choosing a good vacuum cleaner.

3) Don't sleep in the same room as your pets. These pet allergy tips should come in handy.

4) Use anti dust mite bedding covers. Here's a guide on how to choose a good anti dust mite bedding cover.

5) Clean the filters of your air-conditioning and heater.

6) Keep indoor humidity level between 30%-40% with a dehumidifier. The low humidity will help prevent the growth of dust mites and mold

7) Watch out for mold growing in the house, especially in the basement. You can either try these DIY methods for treating mold naturally or these allergen control products.

8) Remove excess humidity in the bathroom by turning on the exhaust fan after showering.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Allergy Myths - Part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1. Are any of these myths familiar to you?

#4 Myth: Relocating to another region can cure allergies

Reality: Unfortunately, this is not true. Moving away from the source of allergen may temporarily relieve your allergies. But it is a fact that allergic people are prone to developing new allergies because our immune system is not functioning right. So it is common that the allergic symptoms reappear within a few years after exposure to new plants, or other sources of allergen.

I have had first hand experience with this when I relocated to a new country for half a year. My allergy went away and I have never felt better with my nose and breathing. Pure bliss! When I returned to my home country, my allergy came back right away. At that time, I wished I could relocate permanently! But upon checking with my GP (general practitioner), he confirmed that this relief is temporary and had I stayed on longer, its very likely I would develop other new allergies.

 # 5 Myth: You can't develop allergy to animals if you don't own pets

Reality: Animal allergens can be carried on clothes and shoes. This may sensitize people who do not have pets themselves and cause allergic symptoms in sensitized people.

Well, I should know this better. I have never owned a pet in my life, but yet surprisingly, my skin prick test showed that besides being allergic to dust mite, I am also allergic to dogs.

#6 Myth: Flowers are a cause of allergy
Reality: It is unlikely that flowers are the cause of your constant sneezing and itchy eyes. This is because allergies are primarily caused by wind-pollinated plants whereas flowers are generally reproduced by insects. Flower pollen are larger than tree pollen which are spread through the air, and then breathed in by humans, causing those nasty allergic symptoms.

Dr. James Li, Chair of the allergy division at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn said that this misconception arises as flowers have pollen that is highly visible. But these flower pollen does not become airborne and there are not high concentrations of it in the air, like the pollens from trees, grasses and ragweed.

Monday, 9 December 2013

9 Habits That Make Allergies Worse

Here are some habits which allergy sufferers may not be aware that are harming them in the long run. Take a look - are you practising any of these habits? If you are, its time to make a change in the coming new year!
1. Stressful work deadlines
Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, blood proteins that cause allergic reactions, says study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. If you’re under stress, get enough sleep. A sleep deficit can worsen both allergy symptoms and stress, she says.
Indeed, I noticed this pattern for myself. Whenever I lack sleep, my allergy will flare up.
2. Alcohol
Alcohol can raise the risk of perennial allergic rhinitis by 3% for every additional alcoholic beverage consumed each week, Danish researchers found. One potential reason: Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines, chemicals that cause tell tale allergy symptoms like stuffy nose and itchy eyes. Avoid alcohol when your symptoms are acting up, says Richard F. Lockey, MD, director of the division of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
This is not a big problem for me as I'm not a heavy drinker. I only drink on some occasions and do not consume a lot of it.
3. Waiting too long to take medicine
Medications that block histamines work best before you’re even exposed to allergens, says allergist James Sublett, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Start medication a couple of weeks before the season commences or before you’ll be around allergens.
4. A not-hot-enough washing machine
In a South Korean study, laundering cotton sheets at 140°F killed 100% of dust mites, while a warm 104°F wash destroyed just 6.5%.
Very hot water may damage the bedding sheets for some, so I highly recommend using anti dust mite bedding cover instead. I am using them and they are a life-saver!
5. Houseplants that make you sneeze
More than 75% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to at least one common houseplant, found a Belgian study. Allergens in plant sap can diffuse into the air and set off your sniffling. Though any potted greens can be trouble, researchers found that ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchid, and fern varieties are most irritating to allergy-prone people.
Here's some tips on allergy-friendly gardening.
6. Skipping medication in the evening
One time not to forget your allergy med? Before bed—so the medication will be circulating in your bloodstream early the next day. Symptoms such as sneezing, weepy eyes, and runny nose peak in the morning, says Richard J. Martin, MD, chair of the department of medicine at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.
I am allergic to dust mite, so I can't tell when I will get into contact with one and trigger my allergy, unlike seasonal allergy. If I have a very, very important event to attend to in the morning (when my allergy tends to be the worst) and no way I want to risk having my allergy act up, I will take the antihistamine just before sleep. Be careful which type of antihistamine you take before sleep though. Some may cause insomnia. Check out my experience here.
7. Water workouts in an indoor pool
Chlorine-filled lap lanes can wreak havoc on your system. Used to disinfect, chlorine is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD. And a recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that teens who log more than 100 hours in a chlorinated pool have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing hay fever, compared with swimmers who dunk in chlorine-free pools
Try outdoor pool where the gas is more readily dispersed and wear goggles to protect your eyes.

8. Smoking & being around friends who smoke
Cigarettes—with their numerous toxic chemicals and irritants—are nasty for everyone, but allergy sufferers may be especially sensitive, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In fact, one Japanese study of teenage students found that more than 80% of those who came from homes where family members smoked heavily showed signs of nasal allergies.

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke! And I find it very inconsiderate of those who smoke in areas where they are not legally supposed to e.g inside the lift.

9. Showering in the morning only
If you’re prone to pollen allergies, slip off your shoes, throw your clothes in the hamper, and shower as soon as you get home to avoid dragging particles all over your home. That’s because hidden pollen particles can get trapped on your body, hair, clothes, and shoes—continuing to trigger symptoms after you’ve returned indoors.

Adapted from:


Monday, 2 December 2013

Why Do People With Allergies Feel Tired All The Time?

Do you suffer from allergic rhinitis and feel tired all the time? This is very common and is sometimes known as "allergy fatigue syndrome". There are a few contributing factors to this:

1) Drug Induced Sleepiness
Some medicine that you are taking for your hay fever or allergic rhinitis could cause drowsiness. Best to take these medicine at night before sleep, or check with your doctor for other non-drowsy alternatives. Check out what works for me here.

2) Fighting the Allergens
If your body is constantly in a mode of fighting allergens within your system, it is natural to feel drained out isn't it? As Dr Jacqueline Gerhart, a family physician practicing at UW Health's DeForest-Windsor Clinic, explained:

"When you have a cold or a sinus infection, there is actually a virus or a bacteria that your body is trying to fight. With allergies however, there usually isn’t a living virus or organism in your body that you have to “kill.” Even so, your immune system still gets revved up because it sees the allergen as “foreign material.” Just as your body sends certain immune cells to fight a sinus infection, it sends other immune cells to fight allergies. For example, for bacterial infections, your body may make more immune cells called neutrophils or lymphocytes. Whereas for allergies, your body may make more immune cells called mast cells or eosinophils."

3) Lack of Sleep & Poor Quality Sleep
When your allergic condition flares up, your sleep is most often affected as a congested nose, sneezing and post nasal drip makes sleeping uncomfortable. You get fragmented sleep as you wake up every now and then to blow your nose or clear your throat. Your blocked nasal passages could also lead to snoring, resulting in sleep apnea like symptoms, again leading to fatigue.

4) Lowered Immunity
As a result of lack of sleep and or poor quality sleep, overtime, your immunity is impaired and you will notice your allergies worsening and possibly more frequent flare up as your body is less able to fight the allergens. This is a vicious cycle which needs to be broken.

What Can You Do?
Avoidance is definitely the best step, but its not possible all the time. Here are some tips for the protecting yourself during the spring and autumn season. If you have hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, take medicine early before the season starts. Doing acupuncture before the season starts will also bring you much relief.

If you suffer from dust mite allergy like me, please do yourself a favour by getting a good quality anti dust mite bedding cover. Your sleep at night will never be the same again! I shared my experience here.

Adjusting your diet, exercise and taking some natural antihistamine supplements like Quercetin  (which I've tried here) are also useful to allergy relief in the long run.

Finally, do see an allergist if your allergic condition is very severe and you also suffer from allergy induced asthma.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Allergic Rhinitis (Part 4)

This is Part 4 and also the last part of the series on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and allergic rhinitis. I hope you have a better understanding of how TCM works on allergic rhinitis condition after reading this series. In case you have missed the earlier parts: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. In this last series, we will take a look at how we can use Acupressure to provide relief for allergic rhinitis over time. 

Away from the treatment room, you can try some acupressure on your hand or by your nose. It’s not as effective as with a needle but it may give you some relief.




Use the pictures as a general guide to help you locate the points, and then feel for where it feels sore. Press down for 30 seconds to a minute, firmly but not so hard that you leave a fingernail mark.

Acupuncture may not seem like the most practical way to relieve allergic rhinitis and it does take dedication and commitment from the patient but what many find is that over time, the course of treatment shortens i.e. around the third consecutive year of treatment they may require fewer treatments or the symptoms are less severe.

Credit: Images from A Manual of Acupuncture with acupressure indications by Ka Hang Leoungk

More about Ka Hang Leoungk: Ka Hang practices traditional acupuncture at the renowned Hale Clinic near Regent’s Park in central London, and Neal’s Yard Remedies on King’s Road, Chelsea. She trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from Middlesex University in the UK, and completed a Bachelor of Medicine from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She is a Registered Acupuncturist, member of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) and one of few practitioners in the UK to use the Balance Method style of acupuncture. She is also an Academic Associate of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) You can find her on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Monday, 25 November 2013

How To Choose A Vacuum Cleaner For Allergy Sufferer

If you are allergic to dust mite or pet dander, it is very important to vacuum your house regularly to keep your allergy in control. But some allergy sufferers find that their allergies worsen or flare up AFTER vacuuming. Why is this so? The problem lies in the vacuum cleaner. Here's some tips on what to look out for when buying a vacuum cleaner for allergy sufferers:

True HEPA filter
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA-filters trap fine particles that trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, like pet dander and dust mite faeces. This is the first and most important feature to look out for when purchasing a vacuum cleaner for an allergy sufferer.

There are many grades of HEPA filtration. The higher the HEPA filter grading, the higher the filtration. Example: 

A HEPA 10 filter screens out 85% of the airborne particles

A HEPA 13 filter eliminates 99.95 % of these particles

A True HEPA filter, by definition, must remove 99.97% of particles at least 0.3 microns in size. This is as small or smaller than pollen, pet dander and mold. Ideally, this is what an allergy sufferer should opt for. In Europe, this is the equivalent of S-Class filter.

Well Sealed Unit
It is important that you choose a vacuum cleaner that is well sealed, so that it does not leak air out before it gets filtered. Otherwise, the vacuum cleaner is just stirring the dust/air and spewing the allergen particles back into the environment, causing the allergy sufferer to experience allergic symptoms.

There are many channels air could possible leak out e.g. poor hose connections, leaking canisters etc. It is best if you can purchase a vacuum cleaner that certifies the ENTIRE vacuum cleaner to be well sealed. If it is not certified that the entire vacuum cleaner is well sealed, check with the salesman or retailer how it works to prevent air from escaping. This is a big ticket item, if they cannot give you a satisfactory answer, pass.

Other Considerations
Of course there are other factors to consider as well, like living space, budget, flooring, ease of use and other frills/features one would like to have. But for an allergy sufferer, those two features: True HEPA and well sealed unit are most important.

There are some vacuum cleaners offered by Allergy Store that are excellent for allergy sufferers and fulfils these key criteria. Check them out if you are looking for one to protect yourself from allergies.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Allergic Rhinitis (Part 3)

This is a continuation of Part 2. In this post, we explore how acupuncture works with allergic rhinitis and what you can expect during acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture and Allergic Rhinitis
Acupuncture helps in relieving the allergic rhinitis by strengthening the body’s system, tonifying the Spleen and qi, supporting the exterior so that it’s not so vulnerable to attack by external factors, and scattering wind-cold.

Acupuncture for allergic rhinitis works best as a preventative measure rather than wait for it to happen then expect a cure. Treatment often starts 8 weeks to 3 months beforehand, so in the case of hay fever, I suggest starting in February to build up the system. Most patients find weekly sessions adequate up until the season is over but they will require maintenance sessions again in the following year.
The most important thing about an acupuncture treatment is that you are comfortable, both physically and that you can communicate freely and well with your acupuncturist. Sterile, disposable needles will most likely be inserted in your face, arms, back and legs. You may feel a sharp prick upon insertion but afterwards there should be no more sharpness. However you may feel a sense of achiness, heaviness or soreness which is called de-qi, otherwise known as needle-grasp or needle-sensation. This is fine but do let your acupuncturist know if it’s too strong and they can tone it down.
Generally the nasal congestion should be relieved during your treatment, however it is still recommended you avoid allergens. In the first year, acupuncture aims to help improve your quality of life with allergic rhinitis, some patients are able to stop using their antihistamines or nasal sprays but others find that they still need it albeit less frequently. You may also be prescribed herbal remedies and that would supplement your acupuncture treatment and in all honesty this two-pronged approach is probably best when it comes to relieving allergic rhinitis, combined with a healthy lifestyle.
More about Ka Hang Leoungk: Ka Hang practices traditional acupuncture at the renowned Hale Clinic near Regent’s Park in central London, and Neal’s Yard Remedies on King’s Road, Chelsea. She trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from Middlesex University in the UK, and completed a Bachelor of Medicine from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She is a Registered Acupuncturist, member of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) and one of few practitioners in the UK to use the Balance Method style of acupuncture. She is also an Academic Associate of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) You can find her on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Allergic Rhinitis (Part 2)

This is a continuation of Part 1. In this post, we look at what causes allergic rhinitis from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective. 

Allergic rhinitis is generally described as a congenital problem (you were born with it) or due to some kind of deficiency or dysfunction of an organ(s). Simply said, it’s usually a chronic condition that has had a long time to build up. Most people don’t have an acute bout of sneezing due to allergies for one day and then never have it again.

In TCM we tend to characterise allergic rhinitis as a problem of the Lung, Spleen and Kidney, with some added external factors like damp, wind-cold, or stress.

The sneezing, itching, nasal congestion and clear, watery nasal discharge of an acute attack of allergic rhinitis are all classified as a wind-cold attack (exactly like the common cold). In your body’s defensive system, the Lung is the first one to encounter any invaders and that is the case here. All the wind-cold evils (here it may be pollen, dust, spores or animal dander etc) come rushing in causing the uncomfortable symptoms. If this happens for long enough the Lung’s function gets compromised and it fails to diffuse the fluids which results in damp and phlegm. 

Damp and phlegm in TCM can mean both the visible viscous discharge or mucus, but when referred to in a TCM diagnosis it is a pattern that describes a cause or effect of illness. Like the damp found in houses, damp and phlegm are relatively easy to have (especially in today’s western lifestyle), really disrupts the body’s function and get be quite hard to truly get rid of. Unlike wind-cold which attacks but doesn’t really hang around for long, damp can be the cause of long term harm to your wellbeing by causing lethargy, fatigue, headaches and general “fuzzy-head”. 

Regarding allergic rhinitis, the damp accumulation due to the Lung’s dysfunction results in nasal discharge and congestion. The itchiness that is often associated with allergies is due to the wind. One can say that all sufferers of allergic rhinitis have deep-lying or hidden phlegm in the Lung which then becomes vulnerable in the presence of an external aggravant. 

However, for the external factors to invade and affect the system, there must be an underlying deficiency in the body’s defense system. Enter a second character, the Spleen. The Spleen’s main function is to transform the nutrients from the food you eat and transport them throughout the body. If the Spleen is malfunctioning, the transforming and transporting doesn’t happen properly and the most common result of that is damp accumulation. 

Here is the catch though: unlike the Lung where damp caused nasal congestion and discharge, damp in the Spleen weakens the Spleen which then affects its transform and transport function even more, creating more damp which then perpetuates the problem. It’s a catch-22, which is why damp can be so hard to remove from the body. 

So what creates this Spleen deficiency? It can be due to ageing, which is inevitable, but also over-worrying, stress, fatigue, medication like antibiotics or most commonly a poor diet. A poor diet in TCM doesn’t only mean malnutrition or eating fried, fast food exclusively. It includes eating on the go, rushing through your meals, arguing during meal-times and eating too many sugar, sweets, uncooked, chilled or cold food and drinks. The Spleen likes things warm and cozy so anything that feels like being dunked in a cold water tank while wearing a multi-layered ballgown is going to feel awful.

More about Ka Hang Leoungk: Ka Hang practices traditional acupuncture at the renowned Hale Clinic near Regent’s Park in central London, and Neal’s Yard Remedies on King’s Road, Chelsea. She trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from Middlesex University in the UK, and completed a Bachelor of Medicine from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She is a Registered Acupuncturist, member of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) and one of few practitioners in the UK to use the Balance Method style of acupuncture. She is also an Academic Associate of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) You can find her on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

You're Not Alone...Celebrities With Allergies

Behind all the glitter and glamour, these celebrities are just as human, like you and me. They too, suffer from the sniffles and sneezes due to allergies.  Here are 10 celebrities with allergies:

1. Tiger Woods - Pollen Allergy

2. Nicolette Sheridan - Flower Allergy

3. Jessica Alba - Cat Allergy

4. Scarlett Johansson - Hay fever
credit: dcimovies

5. Kim Kardashian - Cat Allergy

6. Alanis Morissette - Cat Allergy

7. Alicia Silverstone - Cat Allergy

8. Gillian Anderson - Cat Allergy

9. Diane Kruger - Flower Allergy

10. Melanie C - Hay fever

Are you surprised that some of them suffer from allergies and yet still able to excel in their area of work? I am! Amazing how Tiger Woods has pollen allergy, but is a world-class golfer; The beautiful and sexy Scarlett Johansson - can you imagine her sexy sneezes while acting outdoors?!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Allergic Rhinitis (Part 1)

As you know, I've always been interested in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). But its beyond me to explain how TCM works in dealing with allergies. It is my pleasure to invite Ka Hang Leoungk, a TCM practitioner, to share more on this topic in this series of guest post. Read more on her credentials below. 

What is Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is one discipline under the umbrella of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which includes Chinese herbal medicine, tuina (Chinese remedial massage) and nutrition. At its simplest, acupuncture is the insertion of sterile needles in a particular area or point on the body. To determine the areas needled, your acupuncturist would diagnose you through a physical consultation that includes questions on your current state and past medical history which helps him or her arrive at a diagnosis using TCM theory. It is this diagnosis using TCM that differentiates the school of traditional acupuncture from the more recent “western medical acupuncture” practiced by physiotherapists, osteopaths etc, which primarily focuses on using acupuncture for pain conditions. 

An Introduction to TCM 

TCM can seem paradoxically vague and complex to the layman, and that is partly due to the terms and definitions which can be translated into the English language but don’t necessarily correspond to its English counterpart. You may have heard about phrases like, “Anger causes Liver dysfunction” which can seem quite alarming. I know my non-TCM brain automatically associates Liver dysfunction with Hepatitis or cirrhosis. Or you may have picked up that “low back pain is due to poor Kidneys and problem with the Bladder”. Again, what does that mean? If I have low back problems am I eventually going to need dialysis and be incontinent?  

You may have noticed that I spelt Liver, Kidney and Bladder with capitals, as if I were describing John, May and Watson. And I could be. The best way to begin to understand TCM is to see the organs described as a character with functions and duties, likes and dislikes. Think of TCM as a Game of Thrones saga (without the backstabbing and dragons).  

TCM originated thousands of years ago in China and a lot of the theory was based on anatomical studies on cadavers along with observations of patterns and syndromes on living patients. A simple example: they noticed that if you were caught out in the rain and then had no dry change of clothing you would end up cold and wet, shivering even if you were by a fire. The ancient Chinese didn’t have the tools and understanding we have today to describe bacteria and viruses but they could observe and note down what they saw. If something happened enough times, the ancient doctors sought to give explanations, and as this happened in ancient China, a lot of the explanations were poetic and abstract, which sometimes makes it difficult for the western mind to understand. 

However, all the observations made by the ancient Chinese happened in the natural world, and the world is the same everywhere. The seasons may be different depending on which hemisphere you’re in but seasons will still change. Leaves may not go a beautiful golden red if you don’t leave in parts of north America but you still know if it’s autumn. Here in the UK where I live, summer doesn’t necessarily happen just because the calendar says it’s June, but when summer does eventually show up, you can definitely feel a change in the air. This is what the ancient Chinese and practitioners of TCM describe as yin and yang.  

The very simplistic definition of yin and yang is opposites, as in day and night, heavy and light, female and male. However in TCM, a better way to understand yin and yang is to think of changes and cycles. Just like the cold, dark days of winter cannot last forever because spring is always going to be around the corner, when it comes to our health there will be peaks and troughs. Yin and yang is the very opposite of the mentality that believes in yo-yo dieting or binges. A curry lover may love spicy-hot food but they can’t eat it every single day without it doing harm to their body. Eventually somewhere they will crave (or be ordered to) eat some fresh vegetables that are mildly flavoured. 

I tell my patients to imagine themselves as being on a x-y graph where the goal is to hover around zero-balance. Zero does sound so boring and unimaginative, after all who wants to be zero? I do! We will all inevitably fluctuate, perhaps up to +5 then down to -3 then back to +2 but either way our bodies are naturally trying to rebalance and recalibrate around the 0-mark. That is the ultimate yin-yang.  

Your body is like the government: there is the local government at city hall, then representatives of the county, then higher up is the state or province leading ultimately to the big shots. The president doesn’t generally interfere with the city hall’s recycling policy and the city hall officials tend to not really affect the workings of the province, but sometimes a decision from high up can have strong effects on the grassroots projects. 

In the same way, those five extra cookies you had at lunch shouldn’t really make a difference on your overall health, but overindulge at every meal every day for three years and your body will definitely feel it. This is where those organ names like Spleen, Kidney, Stomach etc enter the picture.  

Remarkably the ancient Chinese didn’t attribute body functions and characteristics to randomly picked names like Lotus, Dragon and Tree. They picked actual names of anatomical organs and appointed functions which sometimes actually corresponded with its respective anatomical functions, you can imagine the confusion this causes. So do bear in mind when reading anything TCM-related that we are talking about the TCM organ, the general practice is to capitalize the first letter.

More about Ka Hang Leoungk: Ka Hang practices traditional acupuncture at the renowned Hale Clinic near Regent’s Park in central London, and Neal’s Yard Remedies on King’s Road, Chelsea. She trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) from Middlesex University in the UK, and completed a Bachelor of Medicine from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She is a Registered Acupuncturist, member of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC) and one of few practitioners in the UK to use the Balance Method style of acupuncture. She is also an Academic Associate of the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) You can find her on her websiteFacebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Kinesiology Tape To Provide Hay Fever Relief?

A few days back, my other half bought Kinesiology Acti-Tape for sports use. These Kinesiology Tape are used to relieve pain and support injured muscles whilst enabling movement. They were very popular amongst the athletes during 2012 Olympic games. I was very surprised when my other half showed me this video link printed in the product brochure. It demonstrates how you can use the tape to provide Hay Fever relief!? Quite unbelievable, isn't it? I can't really link up how this tape works with Hay Fever, until I dig deeper.

What is Kinesiology?
It is a holistic way of detecting and correcting imbalances in your body’s energy. According to The Australian Women's Weekly, Kinesiologists believe each muscle group is related to other body parts, such as digestive organs and nerves. Thus these imbalances may relate to allergies, stress, injury, anxiety or some other causes.

How does Kinesiology Tape provide Hay Fever relief?
This is how I think it works: By placing a tape at areas of imbalances for Hay Fever (as shown in video above), it helps to enhance blood flow to the muscles concerned and clear energy blockages. As these energy blockages are the root cause of your Hay Fever allergy, once they are cleared, your allergy will also improve. This, in my opinion, works very much like Acupuncture, where needles are used to help unblock your meridian points and let Qi flows better.

Would love to hear if anyone has tried this method before for Hay Fever relief? Quite an unconventional way I must say. But if it works, then its much better option than popping antihistamine pills isn't it?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How Yoga Can Benefit You

yoga infographic

Love this infographic from Huffington Post! Yoga is beneficial for the mind and body. It is known to reduce stress and boost well-being. Medically proven, stress is one of the triggers for your allergy attack, so if you can reduce stress, your allergy condition should also improve. I find that Yoga calms my mind. Doing it is the only time when my mind can be rid of all the buzz!

I have been going to Yoga class once a week. But I find that that's not enough. Last week, I started to make a commitment to myself to practise at least 5 times a week, 20 minutes each time. It is challenging to squeeze in time, but I hope to stick to it!

For those interested, there are Yoga poses here and here that provides some relief for allergies and nasal congestion.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Apple Cider Vinegar - A Home Remedy For Allergies

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I've had some success with coping with my allergic rhinitis with the use of anti dust mite bedding covers and consumption of Quercetin supplement. The former has improved my sleep tremendously. I never wake up sneezing (& suffering) in the middle of the night anymore. During the day, I also feel that Quercetin has helped in keeping my allergies in better control.

However, Quercetin is not suitable for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive. We would be happy to have a new addition to our family, letting nature takes its course. So I've decided to stop taking Quercetin for the time being. But it is not easy to find a replacement for Quercetin. I know Butterbur and Stinging Nettle are all good for allergies, but from what I gather, they are either not advisable to be taken during this period of time or there is not sufficient information to determine they can. And so here I am, searching high and low for any natural food or supplement that is effective for allergic rhinitis, but yet safe for consumption during pregnancy or whilst trying to conceive.

I came across drinking diluted Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) water as a home remedy for allergies. I've always known the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar in aiding digestion and weight loss, but never quite heard of it being used for allergies until last week when I did a quick search online. I'm very encouraged by the many positive feedback from readers of Earth Clinic , Food For Thought Blog and Sarah Kovac's blog. There are a few others as well, but I've forgotten to bookmarked them. You can always do a google search to find out more.

The recommended dose from Earth Clinic:

1/8th cup raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. Preferably organic.
Mix with 16 oz of water.
Sip it throughout the day.

You may add some raw honey for better taste and if you get some stomach upset from it, you may wish to add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to help overcome it.

I have started this last Wednesday but not the full dosage yet as I've got a sensitive gastric. So I have started only with 1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with full cup of water and 1 teaspoon of raw honey. I plan to gradually up the dose. Although some have recommended taking it before food, this option is not for me due to my sensitive gastric. So make some adjustment to this concoction, based on your own body's reaction.

I'm using Bragg raw unfiltered Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (see picture above). This is one that I've had at home as I use it for salad dressing at times. You can use other brands but the Apple Cider Vinegar has got to be raw and unfiltered to be effective. Remember, anything that is processed would lose its effectiveness as the enzymes are lost during the process. Same for honey.

This is a cheap and easy to make home remedy. Now I hope it will work for me and my allergies.  I plan to write about it later to gauge its effectiveness. Do check back!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Bad Breath Caused By Allergies & What You Can Do

This is quite an embarrassing topic, but who isn't had breath in their life before? More so for those with hayfever or allergic rhinitis. Admittedly, when I'm down with a bad allergy flare up, I try to avoid speaking close up to others, not just because of my non-stop sneezing, but also because of the less than desirable breath.

How do allergies cause bad breath?

#1: Dry Mouth. When allergic rhinitis strike, you tend to get dry mouth and its made worse by antihistamine medicine which usually list dry mouth as a side effect. When your mouth is dry, there isn't sufficient saliva to wash away the bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria feed on the remnant of the food sticking in our teeth. So without saliva doing its job to flush it away, these bacteria hang around inside our mouth and create bad breath.

#2: Postnasal drip. Those suffering from allergies should be familiar with this term. This is mucus that flows from the sinus cavities down the back of the throat. This is food source for the bacteria lurking there, causing bad breath. The postnasal drip can also become infected, leading to even faster growth of bacteria in the mouth.

How to get rid of bad breath?

-Drink lots of water! That's what I always do. In any case, with the horrible runny nose, you are losing a lot of fluid (via mucus), so load up lots of it to replenish as well.

-Drink tea. Tea is rich in polyphenol, which is found to inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth. Green tea, ginger tea and lemon tea are particularly effective.

-Eat more fresh fruits & vegetables, preferably in the raw form. Whenever I find myself having that stinking smell in the mouth, I look for an apple to munch and feel my mouth smells a lot better after that. Fibre-rich food help to produce saliva, thereby washing away the bacteria. Natural enzymes found in these fresh fruits and vegetables also break down sulphur compounds and help with the bad breath.

-Chewing on fresh herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, basil, mint etc. Fresh herbs contain chlorophyll, which helps to absorb odour.

-Ask your doctor for another allergy medicine that doesn't cause dry mouth

-Saline Nasal rinsing with a Neti Pot

-Using oral care products that get rids of  the bad bacteria in the mouth e.g  probiotic mints that loads up your mouth with good bacteria, leaving less room for bad bacteria to grow.

-Lastly and most importantly, if your post nasal drip is due to chronic sinusitis, you need to see a doctor to address the sinus issue first. When that is resolved, so will your bad breath.

Read here for more tips on getting rid of bad breath if you like.