What We Treat


Cherry Blossoms

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Allergy Relief

Allergies are the worst. Some pollen in the air, a visit to your friend with a cat, you forget to dust—and suddenly you’re sneezing, your eyes are itching, your head is pounding, and everything you’re trying to do suddenly becomes 10x harder.

You don’t have to muscle your way through a world of allergens. Our acupuncturists can help alleviate your symptoms and reduce the severity of your reactions to common allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust.

How Traditional Chinese medicine Views Allergies

Allergies are adverse immune reactions to a normally harmless foreign substance. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year, making it the 6th leading cause of disease.

Allergies can be grouped into three basic categories for ease of explanation:

  1. airborne
  2. topical
  3. internal

Most allergies we treat with Chinese Medicine are airborne allergies or seasonal allergies. These types of reactions usually affect the sinuses and can cause congestion, sneezing, headaches, sore throat, and ear congestion.

The body’s immune system treats an allergen as a foreign substance. In response to this, the body will then make very large amounts of immunoglobulin E (IgE). These IgE are antibodies that bind to mast cells (a type of blood cell). This process and the release of histamines causes inflammation. That inflammation leads to all of the symptoms you experience with allergies.

Read on to learn more about Allergies, their causes, and our evidence-based approach to helping you find relief from your allergy symptoms using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. You’ll also find some typical treatment plans for treating allergies.

  1. Common Questions People Ask About Allergies
  2. Symptoms and Types of Seasonal Allergies We Treat
  3. Natural Remedies for Allergies
  4. TCM Allergy Treatment Plan
Cherry Blossoms

Common Questions People Ask About Allergies


What Are the Most Common Seasonal Allergy Symptoms?

Symptoms of seasonal allergies typically include nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, post nasal drip, watery eyes, itchy eyes, red eyes, puffy eyes, ear pressure, a sinus headache, fatigue, cough, throat irritation, and poor sleep.

Cold Symptoms vs Allergies

When you start to feel a runny nose and some throat irritation, you may be wondering whether you’ve got allergies or just the common cold. Though they can share many of the same symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, and fatigue, one important way to tell them apart is that allergies typically do not cause body aches or fevers. Allergies also tend to come at predictable times of the year, such as when pollen is highest in the spring.

Can Allergies Cause Fever?

Allergies do not cause a fever. If you have a fever, most likely you have a viral or bacterial infection rather than an allergic response. Even though allergies don’t cause a fever, they can wreak havoc on your immune system making you more likely to get sick.

Can Allergies Cause A Sore Throat?

Yes, allergies can cause a sore throat. This typically happens because post nasal drip irritates your throat. Pollen can also cause itching and irritation in your throat.

Is a Headache a Symptom of Allergies?

Headaches are absolutely a symptom of allergies. We most commonly see a frontal headache with allergies because the sinuses can be inflamed, and the nasal passages are irritated with contact with pollen. Allergy headache symptoms include pressure in the forehead and behind the eyes, as well as facial pain.

Are Migraines a Symptom of Allergies?

Migraines and allergies can be interconnected. Allergies can trigger migraines. Common allergy migraine triggers include certain foods and smoke as well as pollen. If airborne allergens such as pollen trigger migraines for you, try staying indoor when pollen counts are at their highest—midmorning and early evening.

Is it Allergies or COVID?

Right now, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is so easy to stress about every sneeze or tickle in your throat. You ask yourself, does what I’m experiencing feel like allergies or COVID-19? There are several big differences that can help you tell. One is the presence of a fever. With allergies, you won’t run a fever, which is a temperature above 100.4.

Another big difference between allergies and COVID is that fatigue will be more intense with COVID and might be accompanied by body aches. Allergies do not cause body aches or chills. Lastly, allergies cause itchiness and viral infections do not. However, if you aren’t sure and suddenly start having symptoms that are associated with COVID, it’s always best to get tested and to stay home until your test results come back.

When is Allergy Season?

Allergy season is getting longer and longer with climate change and warmer temperatures in Washington, DC. Traditionally tree pollen comes first toward the end of February, and it peaks in mid-April.

Tree pollen affects many allergy sufferers with spring allergies. Grass pollen tends to start in April. Grass pollen peaks in early June and ends sometime in August.

Next up is ragweed. Ragweed starts in August, peaks in September, and then ends in October (usually with the first frost). Typically allergy sufferers get a reprieve after the first frost here in Washington, DC.

If you have allergies to other year-round allergens, such as mold, pet dander, or dust mites, then it’s always allergy season, unfortunately.

How Long Do Seasonal Allergies Last?

Seasonal allergies tend to last for the duration of the active allergen, which is approximately 2-3 weeks, according to the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America. However, if you are symptomatic to more than just one allergen at the same time, your symptoms might linger for a longer period of time due to the different peak times of various allergens.

Symptoms and Types of Seasonal Allergies We Treat

Here at Cherry Blossom Healing  Arts, we treat seasonal and year-round allergies. We customize your treatment to best address your needs and concerns by employing modalities such as acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, and herbal medicine to give you as much immune system support and symptom relief as possible.

Seasonal Allergy Symptoms We Treat

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Post nasal drip
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Throat irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Puffy eyes
  • Ear pressure
  • Headache
  • Sinus headache
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep

    Common Allergy Types We Treat

    • Seasonal Allergies, including Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever) and Ragweed/Pollen Allergy
    • Airborne Allergies

    Seasonal Allergies

    Seasonal allergies occur when certain types of allergens are most prevalent in the air. Seasonal allergies differ from other allergies as they are caused by a specific allergen during a specific time of year.

    Types of Seasonal Allergies

    • Spring Allergies – tree pollen
    • Summer Allergies – grass pollen
    • Fall Allergies – ragweed
    • Year-round Allergies – dust, pet dander, mold

    Natural Remedies for Allergies

    You are unique, and you have a unique constitution. We’ll customize your treatment plan to get you feeling better as fast as possible! Allergies can make you miserable, but we have an arsenal of TCM tools including acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, herbal medicine, and nutritional support that can help you feel better.

    Acupuncture icon

    Acupuncture for allergies

    Herbal Medicine icon

    Chinese herbal medicine for allergies

    Cupping icon

    Cupping for allergies

    Gua Sha icon

    Gua Sha for allergies

    Nutrition icon

    Nutrition and allergies

    Acupuncture for Allergies

    Acupuncture helps strengthen your immune system and helps regulate your immune response to allergens. This can help alleviate allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion, fatigue, headache, and post nasal drip. Some allergy medications have side-effects such as making you feel sleepy or dizzy. With a non-pharmacological approach to allergies, you can avoid those unwanted side-effects, but still get allergy symptom relief.

    Can Acupuncture Help with Allergies?

    Yes!  Acupuncture does a great job in treating seasonal or all year around chronic allergies. Everyone’s allergy problems are unique, and  our acupuncturists will help determine the root cause of your allergies. We’ll work with you to treat both the acute presenting symptoms and also strengthen your immune system to better manage the symptoms.

    How Does Acupuncture Help Allergies?

    Acupuncture strengthens your immune system and alleviates common systems such as runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and headaches. We will work on strengthening your body’s defense or what we call  Wei Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    Think of Wei Qi  as your first hand protection against environmental pollutants and stressors. Along with strengthening your Wei Qi, we also treat the whole body and address underlying causes that contribute to a weak Wei Qi.

    For example, if a patient is prone to water accumulation, what we refer to as Dampness in Chinese Medicine, we would work on alleviating the dampness using acupuncture and herbs and this in turn would have an effect on the Wei Qi.

    Acupuncture Points for Allergies

    Great acupuncture points for allergies include local points and distal points. Local points are great for alleviating sinus congestion, headaches, and other acute presentations. Distal points are great for addressing the whole body and work in tandem with the local points creating holistic and balanced care.

    Chinese Herbal Medicine for Allergies

    All our acupuncturists are also board certified herbalists and will work with you to determine what Chinese Herbal Formulas best address your symptoms. Common herbs usually found in allergy herbal prescriptions include Cang Er Zi (xanthium fruit) and Xin Yin Hua (magnolia flower), which are great at unblocking the sinus passages. Other medicinals are included in the prescriptions and target other specific symptoms.

    Cupping for Allergies

    Cupping is a great modality for allergies. Flash, moving, and stationary cupping are wonderful modalites for allergies. Cupping moves stagnant blood as well as cellular waste up to the surface of the skin to be discarded. By encouraging better circulation, Cupping strengthens the body’s ability to respond to outside stressors in an energy-efficient way and enables better signaling for the body’s immune responses.

    Gua Sha for Allergies

    Gua Sha creates friction on the body’s superficial surface and relieves tension which allows for the Wei Qi to move smoothly and freely. Strengthening Wei QI is important in Allergies as they are the first responders to the outside world. Gua Sha, like cupping, promotes circulation, which enables better and localized response by your immune system.

    Nutrition and Allergies

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our acupuncturists typically put a stronger emphasis on seasonal and airborne allergies than food allergies. We will, however, refer you to a specialist and support you getting a diagnosis if we suspect food allergies are at play. We also have some really helpful elimination diets we can recommend and support you through that informal process of diagnosing an allergen or intolerance.

    We can also recommend dietary changes that can help you feel better when it comes to seasonal allergies. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory. By doing this, you can lessen your overall histamine response and hopefully feel better. Ginger, bee pollen, and local raw honey are foods that may alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms.

    How Can Nutrition Help Treat Someone with Food Allergies?

    The first step is to figure out if something you eat is causing some of your symptoms and inflammation in your system. In order to do this, we will sometimes recommend an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a way to discontinue eating something we think could be causing your symptoms. You typically avoid it for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce that food and monitor symptoms. Sometimes we will also refer you to a specialist to help make this diagnosis.

    How Do Food Allergies Affect Nutritional Health?

    When someone has a food allergy, they might feel like they have fewer options in terms of what they can eat. It’s really important to work with someone who can give you ideas, recipes, and meal plans to help replace what you’ve lost so that your overall nutritional health doesn’t suffer. It’s important to make sure that even when cutting things out, you are still nourished.

    Helping You to Get Symptom Relief Naturally


    I feel safe, warm, and well cared for every treatment.

    I have been going for weekly acupuncture treatments at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts since early 2019 and have been blown away by my experience. Both Anna and Elise are consummate professionals with a tremendous body of knowledge to share. They are also warm, personable, and thoughtful in the application of their practice. I feel safe, warm, and well cared for every treatment. Their facility is spotless and conveniently located; their treatment rooms are clean, cozy, and smell AMAZING. They also have an incredibly easy online booking system and a wonderful front desk staff. I would recommend them 5x over.

    Read More

    TCM Allergy Treatment Plan

    Our acupuncturists will make treatment plans based on your specific health history and diagnosis. Your body and discomfort level will help guide us on how often you need treatment. However, the following will give you some idea of what to expect:

    For general seasonal allergies, you can expect to get treatments weekly for 4 weeks then we will reassess. You will likely be treated with acupuncture, cupping, and possibly an herbal prescription. For milder allergies, acupuncture and cupping are often sufficient for treatment. For more serious symptoms we usually recommend herbs and other lifestyle or diet modifications.

    After the initial treatment plan, our acupuncturists will reassess with you and develop an ongoing treatment plan, which often calls for coming in once or twice a month, depending on your symptoms. If you decide to take herbs, we’ll maintain your prescription in between treatments. Once your allergies are resolved or are more manageable, you can pause treatment and come back if you have a flare-up. For patients who have allergies during a specific season, we usually recommend starting treatment before the season starts and adjusting treatment accordingly throughout.

    Woman gazing at Cherry Blossom's

    Your Acupuncture Treatment Plan

    Your journey to better health begins before you step through our doors. You'll be able to easily schedule an appointment online as well as fill out your health history form before you arrive at our office—maximizing conversational and treatment time with your acupuncturist.

    At your first appointment, your acupuncturist will discuss your health history, get input from you on what your treatment goals are, and develop a treatment plan. They'll then treat you using whatever services are best suited to your specific symptoms.

    Although plans vary depending on the patient, most typically run for four weeks. At the end of your first visit, your acupuncturist will give you a written treatment plan. At subsequent visits, you'll discuss your symptoms and whether they've improved, regressed, or stayed the same. Your acupuncturist will adjust the treatment plan based on your input and their ongoing diagnosis of your condition.

    When your main complaint is resolved, you can reduce treatment or work on another symptom. Still thinking it over? Take a look at our Testimonials page to see what other patients are saying. 

    If allergies have you feeling miserable, then let’s get you feeling better!

    You don’t have to always scramble away from a cat or dread going outside in the spring. Acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, nutrition support, and Chinese herbal medicine can help you reduce the severity of your allergies and live your life the way you want.

    Ready to experience this for yourself? Head to our Booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. We’re in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross and Aetna.

    Be well,
    The Cherry Blossom Team

    Cherry Blossom Healing Arts
    Cherry Blossom Healing Arts - logo
    Open 7 days a week:
    Mon 10:45 am – 8:00 pm
    Tue 10:45 am – 8:00 pm
    Wed 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Thu 9:45 am – 8:00 pm
    Fri 8:15 am – 5:15 pm
    Sat 8:15 am – 5:15 pm
    Sun 9:45 am – 7:00 pm

    2639 Connecticut Ave NW
    Suite C-101
    Washington, DC 20008
    Get Directions