That moment in time where you are not quite sure. Was that a tickle in my throat? Am I getting sick? Why can I not stop sneezing!? You think you are all right, then bam! Sneezing, runny nose, fatigue. And once you have crossed off Covid as an option, you know you are experiencing seasonal allergies. The dreaded exchange for beautiful weather and flowers is upon us.
Everything is starting to bloom here in Southern Oregon. Lilacs, fruit tree blossoms, tulips, daffodils, cute purple weeds, you name it. While for some it may just be an inconvenience, for others, allergies can shake their whole world. Let’s take a look at what our bodies are going through when experiencing allergies from an Ayurvedic lens and discuss some Ayurvedic remedies to navigate springtime allergies.
Asatmya is the concept of allergies in Ayurveda. While this ranges from food to skin allergies, this also includes seasonal allergies. Satmya means immunity, the resistance to allergies or infection. When our agni (digestive fire) and ojas (immunity) are functioning properly, it is difficult for external antigens to invade the body, create ama (toxic material), and trigger an allergic doshic response, i.e. runny nose, rash, sneezing. However, when agni and ojas are low, our immune system is compromised and we are more likely to be effected by antigens and experience allergy like symptoms.
Per Dr. Lad. Ayurveda Today 1989 – Asatmya “AMA (toxic material) produces Vata type, Pitta type, and Kapha type local or general reactions. The substances which produce these reactions are called allergens. The form that an allergy takes depends both upon the type of allergen and the aggravated dosha (V, P, or K).”
Our antibodies, with vata, pitta, and kapha as separate “strains”, react to these external antigens in their own ways. Kapha type reaction will surface as laryngeal edema, latent spring fever, runny nose. Pitta type allergies include rashes, eczema, and acne. Vata type allergies show up as gas, aches and pains, and wheezing.
Springtime is naturally kaphagenic in nature as the emergence from winter, including snow melt and seed growth, create moisture in the air. Spring allergies are considered a predominantly kapha imbalance, so it is important that we support and balance kapha in our bodies during this transition. Here are some tools to balance kapha to keep ama, and allergies, at bay:
1)Sun Salutations. To get kapha moving in our lymphatic system, practice 3 sun salutations a day. Be sure the stretch towards the sky for sun salutation kapha variation to further promote circulation.
Here is a video of Beverly demonstrating optional Kapha Sun Salutation variations.
2)Trikatu. As agni is our main line of defense against external allergens, we want to make sure we have a strong, stable digestive fire. Trikatu, the blend of ginger, black pepper, and pippali (long pepper) is a heating, yet gentle, combination to increase digestion and eliminate toxins. Ayurvedic Rasayanas’ Digestive Support #13- Trikatu Rasayana is an excellent option to keeping agni happy and our immune system strong, ready to combat potential allergens.
3)Nasya Oil. Administering daily nasya oil through the nasal passages removes kapha from the sinuses and nose. Nasya oil is typically formulated as an herbal blend with a sesame oil base. To lubricate the nasal passages without nasya oil, simply put a few drop of sesame oil on your finger and gently massage the inside if your nasal passages.
4)Kapha pacifying diet. When we are choosing meal selections during the winter to spring seasonal change, favor kapha pacifying foods. Choose bitter, pungent, and astringent foods; stay away from sweet, sour, and salty meals. Pinto beans, split peas, red lentils, barley, millet, quinoa are all great options. Vegetables to pacify kapha during allergy season are carrots, beets, leafy greens; cook with heating spices such as trikatu.
5)Warm water and Honey. Upon waking, boil water and add a little bit of honey. Drink as a morning tea. The honey offers a gentle scraping effect to the body, specifically the lungs, and will support proper elimination of mucus. The best honey is raw, crystalized honey.
6)Wake early. Daily routine is key to a healthy lifestyle. As kapha can be heavy and groggy, consider waking at 4:30 a.m. to start your day. Incorporate healthy habits such as a 20-minute walk and stimulating yoga asana. Keep it simple at first, yet steady and consistent. You can always add more to your routine.