Herbs for Childhood Allergies and Immunity
By Brian Benjamin Carter
| Allergy medications like Allegra
and Nasacort are one way to go if you need an allergy medication.
Another general allergy relief product is the Chinese Herbal
Medicine, Jade Windscreen. Traditionally, it is indicated
for allergy prevention and frequent colds. This Q&A about
child allergy gives information about all of this, and discusses
the plum flower brand herb formula made by the Mayway Corp.
Question: I am new to Chinese Medicine and have taken
my adult-sized 13 year old to an Acupuncturist who has prescribed
Plum Flower brand Jade Screen Tea Pills for her (Yu Ping Feng
San Wan). She has been directed to take 12 pills 1X daily to help
her with her immune system and allergies. It is distributed by
Mayway and has huang qi, bai zhu, and fang feng. I am trying to
investigate these herbs to determine if they could harm her in
any way. She is currrently taking Allegra and Nasacort, a steroid
nasal spray, for allergies. Do you have any info or recommendations
of sources of info for me? Many thanks!
Marjie, that is a great question!
I'm glad you are trying to stay informed- a bit of skepticism
toward any medicine makes sense these days... There is a lot of
weird stuff that gets passed under the guise of 'Alternative Medicine.'
Welcome to Oriental Medicine! Chinese
herbal medicine is quite different
from western pharmaceutical medicine. I am glad that you are
seeing a practitioner for herbs- herbal
self-prescription can be dangerous. If your acupuncturist
has been trained in herbs (the degree of herbal training varies
by school and by state), then they should know what they're doing.
YPFS (Yu Ping Feng San) is often prescribed for exactly
the purpose you described. It is also commonly taken to prevent
colds, especially if they are chronic. It may take 1-5 months
for the effect to take hold. YPFS is indicated for people with
symptoms of: aversion to drafts, spontaneous sweating (without
exercise), recurrent colds, shiny pale complexion, and these signs:
pale Tongue with white coating, floating deficient soft Pulse.
Explaining the actions of any herbal formula can be as
complex as one of those pharmaceutical package inserts with all
the biomchemistry, drawings of molecules, etc. Oriental Medicine
is its own complete system of medicine complete with its own set
of terms and concepts. But I will attempt to explain YPFS to you
in regular English:
- Huang Qi (astragalus) strengthens the qi,
and regulates the exterior; this means that it strengthens the
wei qi (the type of qi
that most closely correlates with white blood cell immunoactivity).
By stabilizing the exterior, HQ prevents inappropriate sweating
and makes it hard for pathogens (allergens, viruses, etc.) to
enter. HQ is a very safe herb. More
on Astragalus and viruses.
- Bai Zhu (atractylodis) strengthens qi
in the center of the body (the digestive system), which according
to Oriental Medical theory, indirectly strengthens wei
- Fang Feng (ledebouriellae) is also generally a wei
qi level herb which expels wind (Wind
is an Oriental Medical concept, not easy to explain in a few
words, but perhaps you can think of it as "any external disease-causing
agent that could overwhelm the immune system."). F.Y.I. the
word feng means wind... just the same in this herb's name as
in the name of the formula.
'Jade Windscreen' is so named because the formula creates a screen
between the patient and wind invasion. The formula is said to
be as precious and valuable as jade.
To get back to your question- "Can these herbs harm her in any
way?" The answer is No so long as your practitioner's diagnosis
is correct. The herb formula in itself is quite safe, and has
no real cautions or contraindications.
Pharmaceuticals, Patent Herbs, & Personalized Herbs
1. Allegra and Nasacort both have short and long-term side
|Cold/flu's, nausea, dysmenorrhea,
drowsiness, dyspepsia, fatigue
|Oral candidiasis, hoarsenss, dry throat, irritated
throat, dry mouth, wheezing, cough, facial edema
If the YPFS works, these drugs might become unnecessary or redundant.
Of course, that needs to be decided by a qualified practitioner
familiar with your daughter's medical history.
2. Pharmaceutical prescription is more potentially harmful
than Chinese Herbal medicine, especially when patients are
on more than one drug for the long-term. This is because even
when properly prescribed, pharmaceuticals still can cause side-effects.
When properly prescribed, Chinese
herbal formulas do not cause side-effects. In Oriental Medicine,
there is not one herb or formula for each disease. We take the
disease into account, but we also figure in each person's unique
internal landscape. Appropriate herbal prescriptions have much
fewer and more benign side-effects than pharmaceuticals because
they utilize multiple active ingredients to prevent any one agent
from causing imbalance.
3. It is possible to achieve good results with patent (pre-formulated)
herbal formulas like the mayway pills, but the ultimate form
of Chinese Herbal medicine is personalized prescription. These
are available in powdered and raw herb forms, and require the
attention and prescription of a highly-trained OM practitioner.
Not all acupuncturists are trained to this degree, and many of
those that are still rely heavily on patent herbs anyway.
Hope this helps- If you have any other questions, let me know!