Updated: Apr 18
It's finally here! Sunshine, song birds.....and sneezing. When we toss open the windows for Spring Cleaning - we are bombarded with seemingly benign substances that can stir up big trouble in your nose. Allergies are the body's immune system responding to normally harmless substances as if they're a threat, attempting to get rid of that pathogens by any means necessary. Some primary causes of allergies, according to Ayurveda, are genetics; weak agni, or digestive fire; a person’s state of vykruti, or imbalance; and/or the presence of ama, undigested or poorly digested food that turns toxic and interferes with processes in the body.
As the body acts to eradicate the perceived threat, we can experience the uncomfortable symptoms of an allergy reaction, including a runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing, and itchy, watery eyes. In addition, an exaggerated immune response can lead to symptoms in the lungs (asthma) and skin (hives, eczema). Allergies affect a large percentage of the population at one time or another and can significantly limit activity. To work on decreasing these symptoms, here are 8 tips to get you started:
The number one tip we have is to use a Neti Pot. You can use them once or twice daily, with a saline solution. In addition to the benefits of removing allergens, from a doshic perspective, it is especially effective in decreasing Kapha in the head and sinuses.
The use of Nasya Oil in the nose allows you to deliver beneficial properties in essential oils like eucalyptus, camphor, chamomile, and juniper. These are natural decongestants. Just do yourself a favor and wait an hour after using the Neti Pot.
Trikatu is a wonderful herbal blend for allergy sufferers; but not because it has a direct impact on the nasal passages. Trikatu is a combination of three pungent elements - black pepper, long pepper, and ginger. These stoke the digestive fire, your Agni. This particular combination also supports the lungs and uncongested breathing.
Avoid cold, heavy foods and drinks, including dairy, wheat, meat, sugar, processed foods, leftovers, and iced beverages, as they can slow down the digestion and dampen the agni. Dairy especially can be
Take Triphala tablets or powder at night to help rid the body of excess toxins that can cause slow digestion. Another great trio elements, it includes amalaki, haritaki, and bibtaki, derived from fruits, and works to cleanse and strengthen your system.
Practice Pranayama every day. Pranayama is a series of breathwork techniques that stem from yogic tradition. Controlling your breathing can help you achieve mental and spiritual calm and free up space in the mind and body. There are many wonderful techniques that can bolster the immune system and provide clarity to your respiratory system. Ujjayi (Ocean-Sounding Breath) is a wonderful basic that you've likely learned in yoga class. There are other wonderful techniques that you can learn.
Using warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper in your cooking can help support your digestive fire. Tulsi, pippali, and licorice are also thought to help rejuvenate the respiratory system.
Try taking some Chyawanprash. This rejuvenative ayurvedic preparation is made from amla berry, which is cooked into a jam with over 30 tonifying herbs and fruits. It’s high in vitamin C and strengthens agni and immunity. Take one teaspoon once or twice a day with a warm drink (milk or herbal tea) through the winter months to support your immune system.
These basic tips will benefit everyone that suffers from allergies. However, allergies can affect people with different innate dosha types. So, for more serious allergies, it's best to discuss your situation with an Ayurvedic Practitioner.