Posted in Acupuncture, children, Family, Health, Holistic Medicine, humor, Parenting, Pediatric Medicine

A Needle in a Hayfever–One Mom’s Adventure with Acupuncture

I love living in the Smoky Mountains. The views! The plants! The trees! However, the downside of this scenario is illustrated by the yellow cast to every house and car in the area, as well as the violent sneezes of passersby. Allergy season can be intense, and no one in our family is more effected than my daughter, Nina, who spends much of each fall and spring looking like a “before” picture in an Allerest commercial.

We did turn to a variety of medications, and while they alleviated some of her symptoms, they had their own side-effects. I remember watching Nina’s last season of soccer—she stood in the field looking slightly dazed while teammates barreled around her. I started asking my mom network for ideas of other methods of treatment and the same word kept cropping up: Acupuncture.

And my response was always the same: Yeah, right.

My daughter has always been terrified of needles. Her pediatrician’s office used to schedule us for the least populated time of the day in order to spare their other young patients the trauma of being in the waiting room, or even the building. One “shot day,” after trying to pry my girl’s knuckles from a doorframe on the way to the examination room, a nurse jokingly suggested we try a drive-through option. I handed the chunk of doorframe back to her and said to let us know when they had their drivers’ window in place.

(Not that I can give Nina a hard time. As a kid I was just as bad about pulling my loose teeth. But come on—that’s practically dismemberment!)

So in spite of the increasing number of success stories I was hearing about acupuncture, coupled with my discomfort of having to regularly dope my child with antihistamines, I waited. I waited until Nina outgrew her scream-inducing, architecture-reducing fear. Then I explained to her the premise of pressure points near the body’s surface that wind throughout the body to key organs and systems, and how needles in Eastern medicine do not penetrate deep under the skin. (I left out “usually.”) I taught her breathing techniques to reduce fear and pain. And, on my daughter’s nod, I set up the appointment.

It was one of my top 10 decisions of all time—nestled between “Only wear comfortable shoes” and “Maybe I’ll try one of these chocolate-covered strawberries.”

On the first appointment, Nina’s acupuncturist talked to her about diet.

“Where are the needles?” my daughter asked.

She talked to her about full body wellness.

“Where are the needles?” my daughter asked.

“So, I take it you’re a little nervous about the needles,” the woman answered.

She reached over to a table and pulled a small paper envelope from a canister. She peeled it open and lifted out . . . nothing. At least, it looked like nothing. I tilted my head and caught the faintest gleam of sunlight on a strip of metal that had the diameter of a single hair.

Nina squinted at it. “It’s so narrow,” she said. She eyed the woman suspiciously. “Will it hurt?”

“Well, let’s try it on your mom first.”


The practitioner reached for my hand. What was I supposed to do—refuse? Sighing, I, er,  handed over my hand. She traced a line between my pointer finger and thumb. “This is a good spot to increase energy and general wellness,” she said. Nina barely noticed. Instead, she was scrutinizing my reaction.

I drew in a deep breath and tried to conjure up an expression that said, Oh boy! I sure hope someone sticks a needle in my hand!

What I felt was akin to a fly landing on my skin. It didn’t hurt. Instead, there was just the slightest bit of pressure. I looked at my daughter and said, “Hey, that wasn’t bad at all.” Then I looked at my hand. Oh, that’s  kind of creepy. . . No-no-no. Think happy thoughts! Wow! I sure do love that my hand is a little bit punctured! That’s swell!

“So,” the woman asked Nina. “What do you think?”

“OK,” said Nina, “but only if I can tap them in.”

That’s my girl! And also, can I take this needle out of my hand?

Nina’s treatment went off without a hitch. There was no screaming or crying or destruction of property—not that day or any other during her 4 months of treatment. Since that time, Nina has learned how to calm her mind and prolong her concentration. She’s more attuned to her body and feelings. And she hasn’t had a single antihistamine.

The past two weekends she’s been outside much of time, helping me set up our garden. (It only took me a couple of seasons to learn the mountain folk are 100% accurate: Never to plant before Mother’s Day!) We’ve gone to outdoor festivals and had picnics on the porch. We’re living the “after” picture of that Allerest commercial, only without the intermediate trip to the drug store.

But the next time she needs a shot, I’m still gonna use that drive-through option.

Angela Dove is an award-winning columnist (click here for archives) and author of the true-crime memoir, No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder (Penguin Group, 2009).



Award-winning humor columnist and author of the true crime memoir _No Room for Doubt: A True Story of the Reverberations of Murder_ (Penguin Group, 2009). Inspirational speaker on issues of survivors' rights, women's issues, and general you-can-do-it-ness. Marketing consultant.

102 thoughts on “A Needle in a Hayfever–One Mom’s Adventure with Acupuncture

  1. oh man. Taking my daughter in for allergy shots is a living hell. She usually has to be restrained by two nurses. I’m glad to hear that acupuncture is working!

  2. Congrats on being FP! I like your writing style 🙂

    I’ve always been skeptical about acupuncture…. I had brutal side effects from other naturopathic treatments for my allergies. But your post is making me reconsider. I have been taking antihistamines every day (religiously) for most of my life, since the age of seven, I believe. Can’t live without them! It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I started feeling uncomfortable with the apparent addiction I have to them…
    I hope the acupuncture continues to work for Nina! If you can keep her off the antihistamines, definitely do so. And that advice comes from first-hand experience!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hit the zyrtec myself, but not every day. Watching Nina respond so quickly has made me consider going for acupuncture next fall when my mold allergies start rocking and rolling.

  3. Living at the base of the Sierra Nevada range, we have it all: pine, sagebrush, pollen, etc. I’ve ALWAYS wondered about acupuncture…so thank you for this. I can handle a fly landing on me!


    1. Best of luck to you! I used to live in California’s central valley and with all that agriculture, the pollen was a nightmare. The fresh fruits made it worth it, though!

  4. It’s so funny, while I was reading I was thinking for your daughter- “Oh come on it’s not so bad.” But picturing the acupuncturust leaning over and asking ME if I could take a needle in the hand… yikes! But also a very smart move all around.

  5. After watching my horse receive acupuncture to help him recover from a colic episode, I decided my husband needed to try it for his ankylosing spondilitis. And then I thought, hmmm….maybe I should try it for stress. I now believe greatly in acupuncture, but never thought of it for allergies. I will have to sign my son up. Maybe they do family discounts if pets are included…

  6. I have been using accupunture for fertility issues, but when I”ve been sick with my usual sinus infections, the only thing that seems to help is accupuncture and chinese herbs. It’s amazing, I can be completely clogged up and having a sinus migraine where nothing I take helps. Then I go to accupuncture, have a few needles “stuck” in my face (over my eyes, under my eyes and in the sides of my nose) and somehow I feel so much better. I can understand your daughter’s concern over the needles but they don’t hurt. The worst I’ve ever have is a tingly nerve if my accupuncturist hits one…I almost kicked her one time when she was putting a needle into my ankle. Felt like a little sizzle in the nerve but not painful. Even the needles in my face didn’t hurt, which surprised me. The herbs are bearable, but only if you drink them in hot tea. Still they break up the junk and help you breathe better. It’s so worth it not to have to take chemicals to feel better and it really does work. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    1. Your mention of fertility issues reminded me of a dear friend whose baby was breach. She went to the acupuncturist who **burned an herb near her foot** and the baby turned RIGHT THERE in the office. Not kidding. I’m a believer.

      And best of luck to you!

  7. I tried acupuncture. It did help, but it can occasionally be placed in the wrong spot. THAT HURTS! Other than that, it can really help you. I wonder what kind of person gets into applying acupuncture.

  8. acupuncture’s really effective for sprained ankles as well. you just gotta go right after they’re sprained. and then voila! after a few hours, you are healed.

  9. Well done to your daughter! Also conquering your fears is an important experience! My friend- also absolutely terrified of needles and faints (literally) everutime she goes to a blood test- swears by acupuncture. She has a dodgy knee…. and the treatments are bringing full movement back to her knee!

  10. I’ve seen places that offer “laser acupuncture” I think that may be a hoax.

  11. I’ve been considering trying acupuncture for a long time. I’m glad to read a first-hand positive account. Did you ever try the Neti-pot before turning to needles? I’ve also heard consuming honey made from local bees helps with seasonal allergies.

    1. Yes to both questions–and I’m glad you asked. The Neti pot was a little overwhelming for my daughter since she has troubled getting the angle right; however, I swear by mine during times when I’m congested. And I always, always use honey from local bees. It’s my understanding that using that naturally-processed local pollen cuts builds up the body’s tolerance. Love me some local honey!

  12. I have heard and read that acupuncture can cure health problems as well as add to over well being. This is something I have wanted to try for quite sometime now. And I will be setting up an appointment for one the end of the month now.

  13. I’ve had’s a piece of cake compared to “cupping”…
    That’s where the Chinese take their unused HOT tea cups and suction them onto your back….When you’re done, it leaves you looking like you’ve been attacked by a giant octopus….

  14. I’ve been through acupuncture myself and the first time I was terrified. It wasn’t bad so I bought six more sessions. My interest in it ended when I was driving home one day and felt something poking me in the chest. My acupuncturist had forgotten to take out a needle and my seat belt was crushing it into me.

    Thankfully I only had one session left. I went back for that last session but needless to say I was terrified all over again. I’m glad it help your daughter.

  15. My life’s work is energy balancing techniques. I am happy that you found comfort and balance in this tool. I am going to share this with my readers. My sister’s son is going for shots, this would be so much better!! Grea choice for Freshly Pressed!

  16. I have suffered hayfever my whole life and I just cannot believe that acupuncture will cure it. From my experience (36 years of, I started at 1 year) levels of pollen can fluctuate massively. Today I am fine, last week was hell, next week or even tomorrow could be worse too.

    I now use loratadine (an anti-histamine), I find that it does not make be drowsy and certainly helps. I will always stick to scientifically tested methods rather than TCM.

    1. I’m glad you found a medication that will work for you. And while none of my friends wore lab coats, their success stories with this particular acupuncturist came close enough to “scientifically tested” for me.

  17. That was the best anecdote I’ve read in such a long time. As someone who turned to acupuncture as a last resort treatment for completely different reasons than you did for Nina, reading this gave me something to giggle about each time.

  18. Congratulations on being freshly pressed! Your story was great, and I think acupuncture is fascinating. I started having regular sessions last year for, ahem… ladies’ problems 😉 and having been so skeptical at the start, I’ve been astonished with the results. Plus, I always come out of the session feeling lovely and floaty which is never a bad thing!

  19. First of all, you’re a great story teller! Every time I would complain of allergies to my Chinese doctor / chiropractor he would enthusiastically exclaim: “It’s the parasites!” He was convinced that parasitic activity was the root of all allergy symptoms… so keep an eye out for underlying issues such as Lyme Disease. We’ve all got to keep away from ticks and their evil illnesses! 😉

  20. I am so glad you decided to try acupuncture! Acupuncture literally saved me from months on crunches while I was pregnant with our second child. I was nervous at first, too, but after the first session I was all in! It works. And not only does it work, but it works extremely well without many (any?) side effects.

  21. It’s funny I just did this with my 11 yr old daughter. She’s had allergies forever and I feel bad I’m always giving her singular and otc allergy meds for so long it couldn’t be good for her. So I took her to an acupuncturist and she had 5 treatments. One of them she actually started to fall asleep. She would put her earbuds in and listen to music. It was like a miracle. No allergies during pollen season. She still gets sniffly if she goes to someones house that has cats or dogs but not as bad as before. And my insurance covered it. I’m thinking I should go for something…..I just don’t know what yet. haha.

    1. Hurray! I’m glad your daughter had a successful experience. And yep, I feel the same way as you do now: “Hmmm, how can acupuncture help me?”

  22. I LOVE this post! My husband, two young daughters, and I just recently went to a Rangers game, and I always leave events like this a little depressed of what’s become of the general population. Old Ladies pushing children out of the way to get a hot dog!! Don’t worry, I’m sure they have plenty more! And I cannot even get myself started on what these people were wearing. I’m glad someone else feels the same way.

  23. Wow, I’ve never heard of accupuncture for allergies! Never had a problem in my life until three years ago — and now it gets worse and worse every year with no relief from the meds. I must look into this and also get some local bee honey. And you are a GREAT story teller!

  24. Your post inspired me to check into acupuncture as a remedy for my 30 year old son who is in the hospital with uncontrolled nausea and vomiting and no medical answers are forthcoming after a week. This is a completely new thought for me and since we aren’t getting any solutions, this falls into the “it can’t hurt” category. I sent him a link to a page showing the acupressure points he can use.

    Love your sense of humor and it brightened my day.

    1. Thanks, and best of luck to your son. One of my bff’s first went to acupuncture for uncontrollable nausea during her first trimester of pregnancy. Different cause, of course (!), but I wish your son equal success!

  25. I’ve tried acupuncture once it wasn’t as bad as I thought but it sure does feel funky. Once in awhile you get one that feels uncomfortable but not quite painful. Glad it worked out.

  26. Acupuncture has helped me IMMENSELY with seasonal allergies– it’s seriously night and day in terms of my symptoms. I’ve also used acupuncture successfully to treat tendonitis, digestive issues, stress, and even a slipped disk in my back! It’s incredible, and most practitioners understand/work around/possibly even cure people’s fears of needles. 😉

  27. I usually don’t mind needles but acupuncture is pretty brave. It’s awesome your daughter suffers less from allergies as a result though.

  28. I recently developed allergies for the first time in my life and my co-workers keep bringing up acupuncture as well!!! I am now convinced i need to try it! Great post, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Yay!!

  29. I have had terrible allergies since i was 12. I am 38 now. Back than eastern European doctors knew nothing about allergies. Everyone thought that i had a cold or asthma. About 8 years ago i met my wife here in America. She is Korean and introduced me to acupuncture. In the past 8 years i have not taken any pills and had no allergies. I take 3 acupuncture sessions in May and all my problems are gone for another 12 months. So i know how you feel, as a parent. Helping your child in a safe natural way is amazing. Congrats for an open mind.

    1. Wow! I’m so glad you found relief from your symptoms. And yes, I was surprised by how few acupuncture sessions it takes for a relatively long period of relief.

  30. I hate needles too, and am skeptical of acupuncture, although it probably does work

  31. I had chronic hayfever in the Spring which lasted all season.

    I went to a naturopath and discovered that I am yeast intolerant. No more bread or beer, but I am totally free of hayfever – such a relief.

    Something to consider?

    1. OK then. No more beer for my daughter. Kidding! yes, I’d thought about yeast, gluten, any number of food triggers. If acupuncture isn’t enough, we’ll start food trials.

  32. That’s so cool!

    I was an acupuncturist in a former life, well actually about 5 years ago, and I was always amazed at how well kids tolerated the needles. And men, just for the record, are the biggest babies LOL.

    Allergies were actually the reason I decided to see an acupuncturist about 20 years ago. After one treatment I decided to enroll in acupuncture school.

    Good for you for being such a caring enlightened mom and seeking out alternative methods to keep your daughter healthy.

  33. Good Evening –

    Hahaha I love how the practitioner allowed momma to participate. LOL. I love even more how you say you put on the “Oh boy happy happy mother is a pin cushion” face hahahahahaha.

    Sorry but that is the best part of your excellent story for me. How come parents came sometimes, not always, but once in a while…be the bigger silent grown up child in the house. “Heck no, you’re not even going to think about poking me with that needle!”

    Of course, the hubbies are always King of that thrown, lol. Nicely written and nicely done. Happy Saturday evening to you. 🙂

  34. I did a lot of research into acupuncture before I had my first session, but since then (about 10 years ago) it has helped me no end for a multitude of different problems ranging from sports injuries to coughs and colds.

    For allergies, have a look for NAET as well (google it) – it looks a bit weird, but it sorted my cat allergey

    Congrats on being freshly pressed too

  35. I took the plunge last year and tried acupuncture for my neck, lower back, and hip pain. I was very surprised at how painless it was, as well as how much it has helped. I rarely have pain these days. I am a very strong advocate of acupuncture.

    My doctors usually get angry at me for two things: 1) wanting to do yoga, acupuncture, and tai chi for dealing with pain issues; and 2) taking a shovel-full of supplements to treat various different problems.

    I usually take feverfew, milk thistle, local honey, and quercetin for my allergies. It did help a bit this year. Since I just moved into this area and the pollen is different than where I used to live, it didn’t help as much as I would have liked. Seems weird, but that is the way it is. It may have been that the allergy season was just as bad as they said it was because of all the rain and plants blooming so early, all at the same time, over a longer period of time.

    At any rate, it was a bad allergy season, but I never considered doing acupuncture for it. I will have to talk to my provider about that.

    Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  36. I came upon acupuncture when my best friend scooped me painfully off of the floor and drove me gingerly to the acupuncturists office after suffering severe back pain after having two children. It worked within three sessions and it hasn’t reoccurred. Now I use acupuncture for all sorts of reasons, helping the bereavement process, lowering blood pressure and just general well being. I love it. In fact, I’d admit to being just a little bit addicted to it. Shame it costs so much.
    I’m not too fond of needles either but I love the burn of the acupuncture needle, that’s when I know it’s really working!

  37. “let’s try it on your mom first.” lol
    It’s a very sweet story

    Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, I love acupuncture.

  38. I swore I would consider acupuncture this year for my allergies. I have no real fears of it, just the idea of leaping forward with it. Of course, I had no problems with allergies at all, for the first time in years. Maybe I need another reason to try acupuncture.

  39. I’ve been thinking of going to an acupuncturist since then because of my allergy but I barely have courage to do it. Reading your post motivates me to visit an acupuncturist one of these days. Oriental medicine works for me even before.

  40. I have suffered hayfever my whole life and I just cannot believe that acupuncture will cure it. From my experience (36 years of, I started at 1 year) levels of pollen can fluctuate massively. Today I am fine, last week was hell, next week or even tomorrow could be worse too.
    I now use [an anti-histamine], I find that it does not make be drowsy and certainly helps. I will always stick to scientifically tested methods rather than TCM.

    1. I’m glad you’ve found an antihistamine that works for you; on the other hand, since you’ve “suffered” for 36 years, what’s the harm in trying something else–in lieu of or in addition to your medicine? Wouldn’t it be worth a few hours, in the course of your 37th year, to *attempt* to stop suffering?

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