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Severe allergic reaction to Fish

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

By Shmuel Halevi Ph.D

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids supplements, have become extremely popular in recent years. Many researches worldwide, have demonstrated that this food supplement is beneficial for an astonishingly wide variety of health problems. Its range of usefulness extends from heart and coronary problems to behavioral problems. In fact, some papers demonstrate its usefulness in almost every recorded health issue… a real panacea !

 Still, some people do not feel this way. This short case study, describes a 59 year old woman, who has developed a severe allergic reaction to Omega-3 Fatty Acids derived from the Halibut fish. Her condition resolved entirely, but only after complete abstinence from this food supplement.


Detailing the case

 Mrs. S. came to my clinic in Nahariya, Israel on January 20, 2008, presenting a severe allergic condition on both of her eyes. The surrounding tissues of her eyes were red and swollen, traversed by deep wrinkles, painful to touch and appalling to look at. Here are two pictures of her face taken by her cell phone camera:




This condition started six months prior to her visit, and developed gradually to its present state. It first appeared as a small red dot under her left eye, developing in the span of one month and becoming a red huge bulging sack of tissue, eventually affecting both her eyes. She could not recall any dramatic changes in her life style prior to this event, her diet or emotional state. She visited many physicians during this half a year period, ophthalmologists, allergologists and other specialists. Steroids alleviated the condition for a short period, only to aggravate immediately after the cessation of the course. Mrs. S. did not go to work, stayed at home all day long, and became very nervous and depressed.

Checking her pulse immediately revealed a fast, wiry quality on her liver position, and deficiency of the spleen. Her tongue was scalloped (tooth marked) on both sides, and thick white moss covered the surface. Left Qimen Liv-14 was very tender, Fengchi G-20 was very tender on the left side, as well as the midline epigastric area. She, as said before, was very nervous, easily irritated and depressed.

 It was very clear to me, right from the beginning, that I had a case of liver Qi stagnation, causing its yang Qi to float to the eye region. "The liver opens into the eyes" say the classics. Excess yang Qi also floats upward, may exhibit as red eyes, headaches (which she did not have) and nervousness. The appearance of the first signs under the left eye, as well as the left tender Qimen Liv-14 Mu point, also made sense. Yang Qi disorders often tend to appear more frequently and acutely on the left side of the body, whereas yin Qi problems exhibit themselves more often on the right side. 1  The spleen Qi deficiency, exhibiting itself on her tongue shape and her pulse, could account for her liver Qi stagnation, being unable to exert enough counter weight force to balance her liver. This phenomenon is often evidenced using the wu xing (5 elements) model. Mrs S. admitted, that her stomach was often upset, she suffered from abdominal gas frequently, and her muscles were sleek, without force.  All are spleen Qi deficiency symptoms and signs.

 The abrupt appearance of the symptoms, as well as their very fast development, suggested a yang toxin (allergic reaction in this case), whose source was the liver, or its influence exerted directly on the liver mechanism. Questioning her about all her dietary habits, coffee and alcohol intake, emotional crises etc., did not reveal anything that could account for this disease. I therefore, before commencing with the treatment, set up a strict diet for her, excluding all liver irritating elements such as alcohol, coffee 2, fried and spicy food, medications and the like, as well as spleen weakening foods, such as cakes, milk products, sweet stuff, etc.

 We then commenced with the treatment.


The treatment 3

 The main points which I chose for the treatment were those:

 Li-4/ Li-11 – this combination is probably the strongest combo to disperse heat and yang from the

                      head region. They are both situated on the Yangming hand meridian, the meridian

                      known to have the most ample supply of Qi and blood. It thus has the ability to

                      invigorate and disperse Qi and blood, either systemically or, even better, at the head

                      region. They were both manipulated in dispersion and cooling techniques.4

 G-20/ B-2/ Taiyang/ St-2 -

                      G-20 and B-2 have together a yang Qi reducing effect over the eyes. G-20 belongs to

                      the liver/gallbladder system, and is probably the best point to remove excess yang Qi

                      from the head and eyes together. Both were manipulated in dispersion. Taiyang, an

                      extra-meridian point responding mainly to the Shaoyang system, is mainly used for

                      excess yang Qi in the eye region. St-2 has within its functions swelling and pain in

                      the eye and surrounding tissues, and it was punctured in a distal direction to combine

                      with St-3.

 Liv-3/ Liv-2 – Both situated on the liver meridian and have the ability to disperse and regulate the

                      liver, disperse yang Qi from the eyes, relieve nervousness and depression.


 Secondary points, which were used every other session or so, were:

 Ren-12/ Sp-3/ St-43 – In tonification (except St-43), in order to strengthen and supplement spleen

                      Qi. This action has an indirect effect on regulating the liver and subduing its yang via

                      the five  elements cycle. St-43 has within its indications to relieve facial swelling and

                      conjunctivitis (also a yang Qi excess type disease). It also acts as a counter-balance

                      point for the Li-4/ Li-11/ St-2 combo, situated on the same Yangming system, in order to

                      draw excess yang Qi from the head downward. 5


The treatment was given to Mrs. S. on a daily basis, excluding Saturdays. Fortunately enough, she was not the too sensitive type of person, allowing me to manipulate the needles (most of them however) quite vigorously. I usually manipulated Quchi Li-11 in the "cooling the sky"6 technique, massaging the meridian route proximally, until the patient felt a cooling sensation traveling to her neck and head regions. Also the Fengchi G-20 points, received special treatment by delivering the sensation of Qi from the occiput directly to the eyes. This I was able to achieve in every single session.

 It is important to note in this context, especially for those practitioners who find it difficult to make the Qi travel to where they desire, that since you have worked hard and achieved this sensation one time, it should be very easy to repeat the success in subsequent treatments. It is either because the patients are expecting it to happen after their first experience, thus helping the Qi move freely in this route, or, for the less skeptical, because the Qi itself has already been forced into this canal, making it more readily available for subsequent endeavors. One way or another, my experience tells me that stimulating the points in this fashion, increases the clinical success rate in acute disorders significantly.

 After seven daily treatments the swelling decreased quite nicely, along with the crimson discoloration of the tissues surrounding the eyes. It is important to note, especially for the prognosis value of the treatment, that right after the first few sessions, Mrs. S. felt a cooling sensation in her eye region even after the session was concluded. She kept feeling this sensation throughout the whole day and night following the treatment. Thus, even without noticing a distinct change after the first few sessions, I was reassured that my path was paved. At that stage, her liver pulse lost its wiry quality, and there had been significantly less white fur on her tongue. Her abdomen became less distended and felt more comfortable.

It took us five more sessions, on alternate days, to conclude her treatment, and until Mrs. S. completely recovered.

We were all happy.

Less than two weeks later, Mrs. S. called me weeping on the phone: "Dr. Halevi, everything has returned. I am cursed… my eyes look just the same as before the treatment has began..!"

I was aghast. "Come to me, I want to see you", I said.

 And indeed, she was right. Her eyes looked almost as before: Swollen and crimson-red, sagging down and appalling. I told her that we must find the reason for this condition, otherwise we will need to treat her until the end of days.

 We started going over her diet item-by-item. Coffee, she did not drink anymore, alcohol – not a bit, spicy food – very little, Coca Cola – not to mention… and then, I suddenly asked which I should have done much before: "Mrs. S., have you taken any medicines, herbs, vitamins or the like since we finished our sessions?"

"Why, nothing.." said she, "except those pills of omega-3 fish oil that the family doctor prescribed for me…"

"And when did you start taking those?" I asked.

"Several months before I came to you, then I ceased while I came to you for treatment, because you told me to abstain from all medicines for that period…".

"So, did you resume taking the fish-oil pills after you got better?"

"Why, of course, it is very healthy for me, the doctor said so!"

"Right.. right.. do you mind not taking these pills from now on, I think this might be the cause."

"Of course I won't, I will not even look at them, if you say so…."

Ah…the charm of Chinese medicine interrogation. One of the four methods of diagnosis, and by no means the least of them.


This time, the process went much faster. We did only eight almost daily acupuncture sessions, and Mrs. S. got her life back. Just to make sure, I gave her a call before publishing this article, six months later, in order to make sure she had been fine all this time. She reassured me happily, saying that she even got rid of the fish aquarium she used to have at home.


End notes:


  1. It is usually maintained in Chinese medical theory, that the right side of the body pertains to yang Qi, whereas the left to yin. One example of this concept, is the famous herbal formula "you gui wan" – Restore the Right Kidney Pill, mentioned in the herbal collections of Zhang Jin Yue. This formula is prescribed in the case of kidney yang deficiency.  Yet, why is it that clinical practice usually shows that excess yang Qi patterns tend to appear on the left side of the body, and those of yin respectively? The answer to this puzzle, is that the energy circulates the body in a cylindrical fashion. Also the aura of our body, is usually depicted in a circular fashion, and so is the meridian system. Thus, the yang flows from its base in the right hemisphere, to the left hemisphere, and the yin follows suit vice-versa. When Yang is in excess, it tends to stagnate on the opposite side, i.e., the left side. When it is in deficiency, it tends to stagnate at its core – the right side. The same principle applies to yin.
  2. In my experience, coffee – with or without caffeine – acts directly on the liver. For a broader discourse on that issue, please read here:

http://www.acumedico.com/female.htm  or: Journal of Chinese Medicine No.66 June 2001: The treatment of Female Sexual Dysfunction With the Fire-Needle Technique (by Shmuel Halevi)

     3.   All points indications, as well as some of the combinations, are taken from the following extensive free acu-points database on the net:


      4.   The manipulation I usually administer for this purpose is quick insertion of the needle to the desired depth, getting deqi, then left twirling the needle with slightly upward pulling of the needle. Now and then, I also apply the "wagging of the tiger tail" technique, i.e., pulling and pushing the needle handle to and fro along the imaginary line of the meridian.

5.      A variation of one law of points-combination principles: One point above – two points below. See here: http://www.acumedico.com/combinations.htm#CHAPTER%20B

In short, this principle advocates the combining of local and distant points on the same meridian segment, i.e., the Yangming, Shaoyang, etc. The practitioner applies one point close to the disease focus, and two points at the far end of the meridian segment. This way, the combination is supposed to draw excess xie (bad) Qi from the disease focus, and disperse it along the meridian. The two points below, are supposed to exert extra weight on the far end of the afflicted meridian system.

      6.   When an excessive hot condition is observed, it is possible to perform the "Cooling the Sky" technique. By this technique the needle is inserted rapidly to the desired depth and then forcefully raised up a fraction, then gently inserted again. This manipulation is repeated six times. The procedure is repeated at three different levels, from the deepest to the most superficial position, until the patient senses coolness. (Acupuncture Case Histories from China by Eastland Press, Seattle – p.12)



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