Springtime: It brings beautiful flowers, sunny days, and, for many, allergies. If you experience itchiness, stuffiness, and general brain-fogginess this time of year, consider adding massage to your allergy-fighting game plan. Read on to learn how regular massage helps offset allergic inflammation. We’ll also touch on how four types of massage (facial massage, craniosacral massage, acupressure, and reflexology) can help reduce allergy symptoms. Finally, we’ll list massage resources for fighting allergic reactions.

How Allergies Work: Overactive Inflammation

Whatever your allergy symptoms, one thing’s certain: They are all related to inflammation. Think of the immune system as the body’s defensive army. Some of its troops are tasked with detecting invaders, such as toxins. In the case of springtime allergies, pollen or grass clippings are inappropriately flagged as dangerous, so the immunity army kicks into gear to kick out these “invaders.” Step one: release histamines, blood-borne triggers that activate various immunity responses in the body. All allergy symptoms are ultimately the immune system’s misguided attempts to kick out invaders.

Medications called antihistamines attempt to quiet allergy symptoms by blocking the effects of histamines. Antihistamines block the receptors where histamines attach to cells, thus preventing histamines from carrying out their job of triggering inflammatory responses. As such, histamines only work if you take them regularly throughout spring allergy season, or 2-5 hours before you will be exposed to an allergen.

Massage can be another excellent tool for offsetting the inflammation of allergies.

How Massage Can Minimize Allergy Symptoms

* Massage—particularly lymphatic massage—can encourage the drainage of sinuses and lymph nodes, alleviating painful pressure and boosting the circulatory system’s ability to remove allergens, viruses, and bacteria.

* Stress causes the release of additional histamines, worsening allergy symptoms. Massage can help a person de-stress, minimizing cortisol and histamines.

* Massage can activate the body’s natural ability to heal. For instance, a pressure point on the balls of the feet may target the lungs, increasing their ability to clear out allergens.

Let’s take a closer look at how three different types of massage help allergy sufferers.

Four Types of Massage that Soothe Allergy Symptoms

1. Facial and Neck Massage can relieve pressure by stimulating lymphatic flow and releasing stuffy sinuses.

2. Craniosacral Massage is extremely relaxing; it is a wonderful way to release stress. As the body switches from the stress response to the relaxation response, it naturally allocates more resources to the immune system. Improved immune system performance allows for increased fluid drainage.

3. Acupressure uses the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine to activate the body’s natural healing abilities. In Chinese medicine, allergies are caused by weakness in the lungs, spleen, and kidney. Weak lungs allow allergens to enter the body. Weak spleen energy blocks proper mucous drainage. And a weak kidney drains our overall energy, limiting the immune system’s efficacy. By applying finger pressure to various points on the body, an acupressure session stimulates your energy and removes blocks to healing.

4. Reflexology uses pressure points on the feet or hands to target different areas of the body. For instance, a main sinus point is on the tip of the big toe. Some people experience rapid clearing of allergy symptoms after only a few minutes of pressure on these reflexology points.

Portland Massage Resources for Allergy Sufferers

If you struggle with seasonal allergies, OurMassageClinic.com should be in your bookmarks. This is the clinic site for our Portland, Oregon massage school. At OurMassageClinic.com, you can book appointments for massage students as well as licensed therapists. We are delighted to offer affordable massage to keep your allergies at bay.

At East West College, we also present ongoing educational opportunities for therapists who would like to develop skills in treating allergies through massage. Massage therapy training is also a great idea for those who would like to alleviate their own allergy symptoms through self-massage. Massage therapy schools may offer single-session classes on reflexology, for instance.

When allergies flame up, it’s good to have a range of tools to offset symptoms. Massage should be one of the main tools in your allergy-fighting tool belt.