Sinusitis and Allergies: Understanding and Managing Symptoms from a Western and Chinese Medical Perspective

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Sinusitis and allergies are common health conditions that affect many people worldwide. In Western medicine, sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses caused by bacteria or viruses. Allergies, on the other hand, occur when the immune system overreacts to a substance, such as pollen or pet dander. Both conditions can cause nasal congestion, headache, and sinus pressure.

Western treatment for sinusitis and allergies typically involves antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays. These drugs can provide relief of symptoms but may also cause some side effects. It is essential to seek medical advice from a Western doctor to determine the appropriate treatment.

In Chinese medicine, sinusitis and allergies are viewed as imbalances in the body’s energy or qi. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, the lungs, spleen, and kidney meridians are related to these conditions.

TCM- The lungs are responsible for regulating the body’s energy, including the immune system. When the lungs are weak, it is easier for external pathogens, such as allergens, to invade the body and cause sinusitis or allergies.

TCM- spleen is responsible for digestion and the absorption of nutrients. When the spleen is weak, it cannot transform food and fluids efficiently, leading to an accumulation of mucus and dampness in the body.

TCM- kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and regulating water metabolism. When the kidneys are weak, they cannot eliminate excess water from the body, leading to swelling and congestion.

In terms of herbal medicine, formulas are often chosen based on their qualities, flavors, and energetic properties. For example, formulas with acrid, warm, and dispersing properties may be used to promote the movement of Qi (energy) and relieve congestion. Shan Han Lun, a famous text in Chinese medicine, is often referenced when selecting herbs for their ability to address external pathogenic factors.

Acupuncture can also be beneficial in managing sinusitis and allergies by stimulating the body’s immune response and reducing inflammation. Practitioners may use a four-level approach, which involves treating the root cause of the condition while simultaneously addressing the symptoms. The treatment may involve stimulating certain points to improve lung function and reduce congestion.

Research has shown that herbal medicine can be effective in managing allergies and sinusitis. For instance, a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that a formula containing magnolia and licorice root had anti-inflammatory effects and reduced nasal congestion. Acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective management tool, with a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluding that acupuncture is a reasonable option for those with allergic rhinitis [9,10].

It is important to note that Chinese medicine does not claim to cure sinusitis and allergies. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine aim to manage symptoms and promote overall health. They threat the underlined cause according to Traditional Chinese medicine and promote lasting change. A complementary approach that combines Western and Eastern medicine can be beneficial for managing these conditions.


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Xue, C. C., Zhang, A. L., & Da Costa, C. (2012). Acupuncture for Sinusitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, 2012, 1–10.

Zhang, Q., & Wang, Z. (2019). Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis with Chinese Herbal Medicine. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20(3), 612.

Brinkhaus, B., Ortiz, M., Witt, C. M., Roll, S., Linde, K., & Pfab, F. (2013). Acupuncture in patients with allergic rhinitis: a pragmatic randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(4), 225-234.

Huang, Q. F., & Wu, X. M. (2018). Clinical observation on the effect of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine on acute sinusitis. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 28(3), 181-184.

Jia, J., Zhang, X., Hu, Q., & Li, Y. (2020). Clinical observation on the treatment of chronic sinusitis with acupuncture and moxibustion combined with Chinese herbal medicine. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 18(5), 330-334.

Zhou, J. J., Zhang, J. Y., Qi, J. C., & Liu, Y. (2017). Efficacy observation of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment of chronic sinusitis. Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine, 37(11), 1285-1289.

Chen, Y., Zhu, Y., Zhou, S., Qiu, Y., Zhu, L., Li, M., … & Li, Y. (2020). The effect of Chinese herbal medicine on sinusitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, 20(1), 1-14.