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  • July: Seasonal Allergies from a TCVM Perspective 

July: Seasonal Allergies from a TCVM Perspective 

Tuesday, 11 July 2023 17:00

Seasonal Allergies from a TCVM Perspective 
Dijana Divjak, DVM, CVA


      A. Pathogen - WIND HEAT

The pathogen that brings seasonal allergies is Wind, which carries Heat deeper under the skin. The entrance points of the Wind are on the dorsal neck, so wearing a scarf that covers the back of the neck during windy times will help prevent invasion of the Wind pathogen. Clinical signs are most pronounced during the spring time, when allergens like pollen are present and Wind is dominant in the air. Spring time is when the Wood element is most active.

When the Wind moves just past the exterior and deeper into the myofascia and muscles, then signs of the Wind in these location can include itchiness, twitching, tremors, and muscle fasciculations. Clinical signs are pruritus, skin rash, wheals or urticaria, or sudden onset of skin lesions, especially on the head or neck.

 BOrgans and systems included

Because the Metal element rules the skin and allergic changes are seen in the skin, the Metal element/Lung Organ must be involved in seasonal allergies. Skin is allowing air to enter through the pores and Heat, which is Yang in energetic quality, will have an effect on perspiration. Animals do not perspire, but the hair that animals produce insulates and similarly provides necessary temperature regulatory functions.

Wei Qi (Immune or Defensive Qi) is part of the pathology as well, since the Immune system is required to create itchiness and redness. The Lung and Wei Qi are both said to control the body’s surface and the Lung functions assist the spread of Wei Qi. The Lung is responsible for the skin and the process of breathing. When the Lung’s energy is balanced, Wei Qi is strong, and the immune system can defend against External Pathogens. When the Lung’s energy is out of balance, the body is vulnerable to the attack of Pathogens and allergens.

The Wood Element governs the eyes, and the East (the Wood's direction) generates Wind. The Liver, being a Wood organ, is sensitive to Wind, especially during the Spring, which is Wood's season.

Liver is responsible for moving Qi throughout the body, also works as a filter. If there is blockage of Qi movement in the Liver, toxins will accumulate and combined with the invasion of Wind, results in general itchiness, restlessness, conjunctivitis and watery eyes and tension in tendons and ligaments. In susceptible patients, Wind may cause seizures to occur. The Spring can also create agitation and anger which are the emotions governed by Wood.

Symptoms of Wind Heat


Allergic reactions on the skin include pruritus, contact dermatitis, scratching the upper part of the body mostly and licking of the feet (feet are governed by the Liver). Ear infections may cause headshaking, there may be tearing of the eyes, and sneezing is common.

     B. TONGUE

The tongue can be red, pink and slightly dry, since Wind and Heat can damage Body Fluids and Blood.

     C. PULSE

The pulse is wiry, fast and superficial. The pulse at the Liver position (left side, middle) may be wiry and at the Lung position (right side, first) may be superficial.

Chinese herbal medicine

External Wind herbal formula

The herbs in the formula perform synergistically, balancing the systems and meridians in the body.

Principle of treatment: clear External Wind, detoxify, alleviate itching, cool and activate Blood

The main ingredients in the External Wind herbal formula are:

Bai Xian Pi
(Dictamnus) clears Damp-Heat and kills scabies.
Cang Er Zi
(Xanthium) clears Wind, opens the Lungs
Jiang Can
(Bombyx) clears Wind, detoxifies
Mu Dan Pi
(Moutan) cool and activates Blood
Chi Shao
(Paeonia) cools Blood and clears Heat.
Jing Jie
(Shizonepeta) clears Wind, opens the skin, and alleviates itching.
Di Fu Zi
(Kochia) clears Wind and benefits the skin

Research: studies indicate that this herbal formula has following effect:

  • Inhibits production of IgE
  • Inhibits the release of mast cell contents

However, External Wind works best when combined with Eastern Food Therapy, plenty of water, and moderate exercise.

Acupuncture therapy

Acupuncture points: GB-20, BL-10, BL-12, BL-17, SP-10, Er-jian, Wei-jian.

Treatment: Blood and Qi must be moved to clear Wind from the myofascia so it is important that the animal has enough Qi present.

We use acupuncture points that:

Clear Wind and Heat from the body: GB 20, BL 10 and BL 12, Er jian and Wei-jian

Calm the Shen: An-shen and HT 7

Move Qi and Blood: BL 17 and SP 1

Food therapy

The desired effect of the food therapy is to clear Heat, soothe the Liver and support the Lung

Cooling (Yin) food:  duck, turkey or fish,  consider novel protein source

Green sour food for the Liver Element: leafy greens or broccoli

White and pungent food for the Lung Element: radish and turnip


The difference between the LUNG and LIVER part of pathology and why PUNGENT and SOUR food are used together

Weather the animal is suffering mostly from the Lungs or the Livers part of pathology can be determined  by the time of the day the itching or pruritus is most active.

When the Lungs are primarily affected activity or itching might be stronger in the midday and evening: “those who suffer from a disease of the lungs are animated and quick witted during evening, their spirits are heightened in noon and they are calm and peaceful at midnight”– The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine.”

In the case of dominant Lung pathology, use sour food to strengthen and soothe the Lungs and pungent food to expel Pathogens (Wind).

If the Liver is the part of pathology that is more affected, the animal will be more active and irritated in the morning. “One uses pungent food in connection with the liver in order to supplement its function and to stop leaks, and one uses sour food in order to drain and expel.”– The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine.”

Other supplements: Flax seed oil, barley green powder.

1. Xie, Preast, Xie’s Veterinary Acupuncture, 2012.

2. Translated by Ilza Veith, The Yellow emperor’s classic of Internal Medicine, Book 7, 22. Treatise on the Seasons as patterns of the Viscera, 2016.

3. World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, “Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine for Itching Dogs “ S.H. Xie, DVM, PhD, MS 2015.

4. Xie, Chinese Veterinary Herbal Handbook 3rd edition, 2008.