• Dr Shawn M. Carney

Natural Allergy Treatments Using Acupuncture and Diet!

Allergy treatments don't have to include drowsiness-inducing antihistamines and pills like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine succinate (the antihistamine found in Nyquil). Consider natural allergy treatments like acupuncture or even quail eggs for breakfast!

Over 50 million Americans suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies annually.1 Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion.1 Among children, allergic diseases have increased significantly in recent years and now affect up to 35% of children.2 But allergies are not just a problem in this country; allergic rhinitis, or runny nose with nasal congestion and itching, affects 10% to 20% of the of the world’s population.3


Acupuncture for Allergies

Acupuncture is well known to be effective in chronic pain disorders such as chronic knee pain, osteoarthritis, migraine, tension headache, chronic lumbar or cervical spine pain, shoulder pain, dysmenorrhea, and fibromyalgia under routine conditions as well as in many other chronic pain scenarios. However, acupuncture is also effective in patients with allergic diseases.


In 2020, when one team of researchers combed through the peer-review literature on this topic, specifically with regard to acupuncture for allergic rhinitis, they stated: "In recent years, research has shown that acupuncture can reduce immunoglobulin, regulate Th1/Th2 levels, inhibit the release of inflammatory mediators, and reduce inflammatory neuropeptides".4 Though the quality of many studies was not optimal and some had to not be considered in the meta-analysis, the authors' findings indicated that acupuncturing specific acupoints is a "viable alternative for patients with allergic rhinitis and (who) are unresponsive to conventional western medicine or cannot tolerate its side effects".4 A different meta-analysis that same year on the same topic came to the same conclusion, but in that the authors went further: "[o]ur findings revealed that all acupuncture methods are effective and safe for allergic rhinitis. Moreover ... [b]ased on these findings, it is evident that acupuncture therapy is not inferior to pharmacologic therapy".5


Often acupoints used in the treatment of allergies are located over the sinuses or around the nasal region, but other areas of the body which may be needled include the ears, chest, abdomen, hands and feet. Acupuncture is, of course, a very case specific type of modality. Point selection can vary greatly as each patient is considered for their specific concerns and imbalances. The needles themselves have a diameter about equal to a few strands of human hair; if there is any discomfort with the insertion of the needle, it usually dissipates within a few seconds.


How 'Egg-actly' to get the jump on Allergies

Back in 1967, Dr. J.C. Truffier observed that farmers who raised quail (Coturnix coturnix) and their families had less symptoms of allergic rhinitis and better upper respiratory function than others. He had been supervising medical personnel at the time and recommended quail egg preparations for support of the allergy symptoms they were having. He also began recommending consumption of quail eggs to his allergic patients, including both adults and children, and found improvements.6 These findings and the benefits to quail egg consumption were later investigated and again observed in several human clinical trials, some with over a 1000 participants and conducted in a dobule-blind, placebo-controlled manner.7


Quail eggs are high in ovomucoids & ovoinhibitors, which inhibit human tryptase. Tryptase is an integral part of the allergy cascasde and increases with mast cell activation. These proteins act as serine protease inhibitors, and block the binding of tryptase to protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR2) receptors. This creates a more balanced immune response since serine proteases are the main factors responsible for allergic diseases and the binding of tryptase to PAR2 receptors on immune cells affects lung & upper respiratory function. Since tryptase inhibition occurs primarily after the immune response is initiated, this is considered a 'downstream' mechanism. However, the ovoinhibitors & ovomucoids as tryptase inhibitors have an added benefit of stabilizing the mast cells, and this is considered a benefit 'upstream' of the immune response. Thus quail eggs have dual benefits for airways and allergies.


"... [P]rotein fractions contained in the quail egg, including ovomucoids and ovoinhibitors, act as serine protease inhibitors. Certain outdoor and indoor antigens such as pollen, mold, animal dander, and house dust mites contain protease enzymes. When they are inhaled and come into direct contact with the nasal cavity endothelium, these protease enzymes can injure tissues and induce a transient IgE-mediated allergic inflammatory response. By inhibiting proteases, quail egg bioactives help attenuate the episodic symptoms of an allergic reaction".8



So these little eggs can be a nice source of protein and used as a breakfast alternative for those with allergies or sensitivities to chicken eggs, and they’re cute! For folks that feel that carrying an egg in their pocket may not always be helpful, the nutritional supplement company Integrative Therapeutics has made small chewable tablets called 'Allqlear', in which quail egg powder is the primary ingredient. Allqlear tablets are sweetened with xylitol, taste good and we’ll use that with some of our pediatric patients that might be dealing with allergy responses.


And just in case you thought interest in quail eggs for allergy treatments was going away, at the time of this blog, there is a new publication in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology titled "Quail egg homogenate with zinc as adjunctive therapy in seasonal allergic rhinitis: A randomized controlled trial" with a publication date for last month. The online abstract is not yet available so stay tuned for an update to review what they found!


References:

  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergies-101/facts-stats/

  2. Chad Z. Allergies in children. Paediatr Child Health. 2001 Oct;6(8):555-66. doi: 10.1093/pch/6.8.555. PMID: 20084126; PMCID: PMC2805592.

  3. Brozek, J. et al. “Allergic rhinitis and its impact on asthma (ARIA) guidelines: 2010 revision,” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol. 126, no. 3, pp. 466–476, 2010.

  4. Zhang J. et al. Different Acupuncture Therapies for Allergic Rhinitis: Overview of Systematic Reviews and Network Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020 Apr 23;2020:8363027. doi: 10.1155/2020/8363027. PMID: 32382307; PMCID: PMC7195651.

  5. Yin Z, Geng G, Xu G, Zhao L, Liang F. Acupuncture methods for allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and bayesian meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Chin Med. 2020 Oct 12;15:109. doi: 10.1186/s13020-020-00389-9. PMID: 33062045; PMCID: PMC7552548.

  6. Truffier JC. [Approche therapeutique de la maladie allergique par ingestion d'oeufs de caille.] La Clinique 1978;22:2-4 [In French]

  7. Bruttmann G. “Ovix” Quail egg homogenate: a clinical evaluation. La Medicina Biologica. 1995;2:25–29.

  8. Benichou, Annie-Claude et al. “A proprietary blend of quail egg for the attenuation of nasal provocation with a standardized allergenic challenge: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Food science & nutrition vol. 2,6 (2014): 655-63. doi:10.1002/fsn3.147.

  9. Andaloro C, Saibene AM, La Mantia I. Quail egg homogenate with zinc as adjunctive therapy in seasonal allergic rhinitis: A randomized controlled trial. J Laryngol Otol. 2022 May 18:1-23. doi: 10.1017/S0022215122001219. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35582999.



The content and any recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to replace the advice of the reader's own licensed healthcare professional or physician and are not intended to be taken as direct diagnostic or treatment directives. Any treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and/or health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a licensed naturopathic physician.