When the body recognizes something non-harmful as harmful and the immune system responds to eliminate this faux pathogen, it is called allergy. It could be food allergies, airborne allergies and contact allergies. Spring marks the beginning of allergy season as there are new pollens in the air.
When pollen count is high in the air, the immune system releases histamines leading to itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sore or scratchy throat, dizziness, headaches, mood swings, low blood pressure, chest tightness, congestion, confusion, cough and difficulty in breathing. Other symptoms may include diarrhea and vomiting. Some also experience hives and skin problems due to allergies.
According to Ayurveda
- Ayurveda is an ancient healing system that focuses on balancing the mind and body together and ensures health and vitality.
- According to Ayurveda, the unpleasant reaction of our body to certain allergens is due to genetics, or due to our own weak digestive fire leading to undigested or poorly digested food that turns into toxins/ama accumulation in the body, also an imbalance of the body energy makes the body prone to allergies. Climate change is one of the main causes of allergies.
- When warmer temperatures melt the accumulated Kapha dosha, it leads to colds and excessive mucus.
Ayurvedic approach to treat allergies
- There are numerous ways to deal with allergies. There are many over the counter medicines that can help and give quick relief. Ayurvedic approach to treat allergies is more of taking care of the cause of the problem and eliminating it completely.
- Simply by boosting the immunity during spring season, one can help reduce allergy symptoms. This requires a healthier diet, a better life style and some common herbs.
Lifestyle changes according to Ayurveda to manage spring allergies:
1.Eat warm, cooked vegetarian foods
- Eat warm, cooked vegetarian foods (preferably) made with clarified butter or ghee to help with digestion.
- Poorly digested foods produce ama or toxins that make the body prone to allergies.One should eat fresh fruits and properly cooked vegetables that can be easily digested.
- Try to avoid dairy products completely as they increase mucous.The easiest way to overcome allergies is by taking a lighter diet during season change.
- It is very important to follow the seasonal diet according to your body type. For Kapha predominant people, it is advised to take some warm soups and stay away from fried foods completely.
2.Eating two hours before going to bed
- Eating two hours before going to bed helps to sleep better and promotes proper digestion of food.
3.Practicing Yoga and Pranayama
- Practicing Yoga and Pranayama help in overcoming any kind of allergy. They relax the body and mind, improv circulation and oxygen flow in the body. Being physically active is a good way to fight allergies.
- It is an age-old nasal cleansing technique that helps in clearing the nasal passages. A neti pot filled with lukewarm salt water is used. It helps to regulate pressure in the head and cleanses the nasal passages of dust, dirt, pollens and excess mucus. Lubricating the nasal passage with ghee and sesame oils afterwards also help in improving the quality of voice and strengthen vision.
5.Foods & Herbs
- Certain foods, herbs and spices naturally help in boosting the immunity. The regular intake of spices with anti-allergy capabilities like sage, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin seeds, black pepper and coriander,reduce the vulnerability to plant induced allergies and help in improving digestion and immunity. Other anti-inflammatory herbs that should be a part of daily diet include ginger, garlic, onions, hot peppers, hot mustard.
According to Ayurveda, allergic reactions are reflective to our body’s constitution which means a pitta predominant individual is more likely to suffer from pitta type of allergy while a kapha predominant person will develop a kapha type of allergy when the dosha gets aggravated or imbalanced. Knowing your body type and taking diet to pacify the aggravated dosha is the key to overcome spring allergies.
Vata type allergies
- To pacify Vata type allergies, licorice teas and Dashami tea enema are best. Vata type allergies have symptoms of indigestion like bloating, burping, abdominal pains and other symptoms like wheezing, headaches, insomnia and spasms. It is advised to avoid raw foods, beans and other vata aggravating foods.
Pitta type allergies
- Pitta type allergies can be pacified using herbs like cilantro, neem, guduchi and manjistha. Pitta type allergies lead to skin-based reactions such as hives, rashes, itching, and bloody red eyes. Hot flushes and upset stomach are other symptoms associated with Pitta type allergies. It is important to avoid citrus, and spicy foods.
Kapha type allergies
- Kapha type allergies can be managed using Kapha pacifying diet like drinking tea with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or cloves to eliminate Kapha. Local honey is the best. Ayurvedic medicine Punarnava is very effective in this. It is advised to avoid dairy products and fruits like watermelons. Intake of wheat should be limited. Kapha type allergies show symptoms of cough, cold, congestion, sinus pressure, itching, water retention in the body and sleep disorders.
- The best food to take during spring is Khichadi (rice with pulses) to keep kapha dosha balanced. A weekly one day fast is great to cleanse the body during spring.
Home Remedies for Allergies
- There are a number of simple home remedies too like taking apple cider vinegar with warm water on an empty stomach to reduce mucus production and clean the lymphatic system, and taking red onion water daily during spring to open up the airways and breathe better.
Ayurvedic medicine for Allergies
- Ayurvedic medicine named Triphala is the best medicine to balance all the three doshas of the body. It detoxifies the digestive tracts and rejuvenates the tissues. The medicine is viable in tablet and powdered form easily in all health stores.
- During spring, the liver processes allergens that come from pollen and pollution, it is important to keep the liver functioning well and consume foods that are good for liver.
- Winters going into spring is the Kapha time of the year when the snow melts and it is damp and wet environment. It is the time to reset the digestion and perform some cleansing of the body using detoxifier procedures like Abhyanga (a warm oil massage), Shirodhara (Pouring the medicated lukewarm oil over forehead, Pinda Swedana and Swedana (steam bath) and Basti (enema).
- In case of severe allergies, it is advised to consult a doctor right away.