Conventional seasonal allergies are seen as an adverse reaction to food, medicine, environment and cosmetics. Common recommendation for the best method of relieving seasonal allergies is to provide immediate relief with antihistamines and avoid the allergens that cause the reaction.
Ayurveda has a diverse view and believes that allergies originate from an imbalance of the doshas or bio-energetic principles that govern the function of our body and mind. As with all Ayurvedic treatment, treating the origin as opposed to the symptom is the key in achieving long term benefits and relief. Besides avoiding the external causes of allergy, it is essential to boost internal immunity by measures like a healthier diet, life style, some common herbs and certain rejuvenating treatments.
A person’s primary dosha, or mind-body constitution, can often predict which allergy symptoms will manifest, so it’s important to understand your dosha type as well as your current imbalances.
In addition to understanding our primary dosha and individual tendencies, it is important to understand that each of us has all of the doshas within us and can therefore experience imbalances in of any of the doshas. Different types of allergy symptoms represent imbalances in different doshas. By recognizing this, we can more specifically guide the treatment of relieving seasonal allergies.
Kapha Allergy Symptoms
In Ayurveda, the typical allergy symptoms in the spring season – congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing – are described as an accumulation of the Kapha dosha, which is made up of earth and water elements. This leads to the feeling of “heaviness” and excessive mucus in the head and sinuses. Other symptoms are sluggishness and feeling tired. For the classic Kapha-type allergy symptoms, there are several simple and effective therapies that will relieve acute symptoms.
You can try the traditional yogic nasal cleansing system known as Jalneti. This self-practice involves clearing the nasal passages with salt water with a Neti Pot, which looks like a miniature teapot with a particularly long spout. This helps to regulate pressure in the head and although it may seem not easy or uncomfortable at first, with a little practice it's easy to do, and highly effective.
Other treatments that help relieve acute Kapha allergy symptoms include the use of pungent and bitter (astringent) herbs and spices to reduce Kapha, including ginger, cayenne, pepper, basil, cumin, cardamom, sage, turmeric, and cinnamon. An easy remedy is drinking hot honey water, or ginger lemon tea. A classical Ayurvedic herbal treatment to reduce Kapha is trikatu, which can be taken daily. In addition, treatment should be geared toward lightening the body in other ways, such as daily exercise and use of a dry sauna.
Pitta Allergy Symptoms
When allergy symptoms occur in the summertime, the underlying source is often an out-of-balance Pitta dosha. Pitta is governed by the elements of water and fire, and in the summer, excess heat can produce inflammation in the respiratory tract or skin. These symptoms are usually rash, headache, burning or red eyes, and inflammation in the sinuses and airway (sinusitis, bronchitis).
To pacify Pitta and the resulting allergy symptoms, Ayurveda recommends ingesting cooling herbs, such as coriander and cilantro. In addition, herbs such as guduchi, amalaki, and neem may be helpful. Ingestion of clarified butter, or ghee, as well as aloe, can calm the inflammatory reaction that is typical of Pitta imbalance. From a biochemical perspective, these herbs contain healthy anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that support our immune system.
Vata Allergy Symptoms
When Vata is out of balance, the allergic symptoms include headache, wheezing, sneezing, and generalized muscle aches. These may be seen more typically in the fall as the air becomes cold and dry. This is due to the accumulation of the lighter elements of space and air in the mind-body physiology. Other manifestations of this Vata imbalance include dry cough, restlessness, and dry eyes.
To balance the excess space and air elements, it is important to stay hydrated and drink warm liquids, such ginger tea with honey. To bring Vata back into balance, use calming herbs such as ashwagandha, which is also an immune modulator that calms the immune system’s response to allergens. Another useful tool in calming Vata is performing a self-massage, or abhyhanga.
Eat light, warm and cooked food
Warm, cooked vegetarian foods, made with a little bit of clarified butter (ghee) helps the body to bounce back. In Ayurveda, eating warm, cooked foods gives the digestive fire a chance to rest. When the digestion is low, it can’t access the nutrition stored in raw foods, and the poorly digested food creates toxins. When you know that your digestion is up to par (especially in summer), enjoy raw greens and salads.
Reduce or avoid dairy
Reducing or avoiding dairy will help to reduce the symptoms related to mucous and allows the body to get rid of the toxins naturally quickly.
Use a Neti pot
You can also try the traditional yogic nasal cleansing system also known as Jalneti. This self-practice involves clearing the nasal passages with salt water with a neti pot which looks like a miniature teapot with a particularly long spout. This helps to regulate pressure in the head and although it may seem not easy or uncomfortable at first, with a little practice it's easy to do, and highly effective. It is best practiced in the morning prior to breathing exercises such as pranayama.
Do gentle exercise and practice pranayama
Gentle exercise or yoga poses along with the practice of pranayama, or breath techniques will help. These simple practices can help not only on a physical level, but also on a mental and spiritual level, bringing calm, attention, and space.
Herbal supplements and spices
Use warming spices in cooking to support the digestive fire — particularly ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander, garlic and black pepper.
When our agni is restored, we avoid aggravating allergens and ama (toxicity) by making conscious choices, and we maintain balance of our internal energies, or doshas, we are less likely to experience ill health, such as seasonal allergies. Instead of seeing our environment as a threat, we can begin to calm the excitability of the immune system and, instead, experience our connection to the external world as nourishing. Ayurveda provides us with the tools to experience this connection and move closer to our natural state of health and balance.
Nasya is a unique nasal treatment including the face and neck that helps relieve congestion and help allergy sufferers. Nasya involves a soothing pressure point face massage, a head and chest massage with a steam treatment. A few drops of specially formulated Ayurvedic herbal oils are dropped into each nostril that helps to provide relief for sinus problems and congestion. The oil forms a protective layer on the nasal tissues and prevents allergens from directly attaching themselves to nasal membranes.
Treatment time of approximately 55 minutes.
£80 (price at April 2017)
Click or call 01534 614171 to book Nasya at Ayush Spa.