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  • Writer's picture Geetanjali Chakraborty

Spring Wellness: Ayurvedic Tips for Prevention and Relief from Allergies

Presented at the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM) on May 2, 2016, the discussion delved into the essence of spring, known as Vasant in Sanskrit, and its association with heightened allergies among many individuals.


Conventional wisdom often portrays allergies as something that afflicts us, attributing the discomfort to external factors like pollen, fresh-cut grass, or blooming flowers. This narrative positions us as passive recipients of nature's whims, fostering a sense of helplessness. However, Ayurveda offers a contrasting viewpoint, asserting our intrinsic connection to nature. According to its philosophy, any form of "dis-ease" arises from a disruption in our alignment with the natural order. Thus, we possess agency in shaping our health outcomes through mindful actions.


In this talk, we are looking to explore Ayurveda's perspective on allergies and propose actionable steps toward achieving balance and well-being.


Ayurvedic Insights into Allergies


In the domain of Ayurveda, a fundamental principle asserts that the natural laws governing the external world also govern our internal biology. This perspective, rooted in physics rather than pure biochemistry, empowers individuals to develop intuitive understandings of their health.


Exploring the phenomenon of allergies through an Ayurvedic lens reveals a fascinating connection to evolutionary biology. Ayurvedic wisdom observes that our metabolic processes vary with the changing seasons. During summer, when external temperatures rise, our inner digestive fire, known as Agni, diminishes to maintain equilibrium. Conversely, in winter, when the environment turns colder, Agni intensifies. This observation aligns with the Ayurvedic belief that digestion is more robust in winter than in summer.


This was aptly observed by our ancient sages:


बलिन: शीतसंरोधाद्धेमन्ते प्रबलोनल:||७||

भवत्यल्पेन्धनो धातून् स पचेद्वाुयुनेरित:|


Reference: Ashtang Hridyam, Sutrasthana, 3.7,8


Shloka Translation: During winter, individuals experience heightened strength as the alimentary tract's digestive activity intensifies, impeded by the cold. It commences the digestion of bodily tissues, bolstered by vayu (vata in the body).


However, failing to recognize this seasonal shift in digestive capacity can lead to imbalances, particularly during the transition to spring. Consuming heavy foods accustomed to winter conditions can overwhelm the body's weakened digestive system, manifesting as what we commonly perceive as "allergies."

This Ayurvedic perspective sheds light on common symptoms during this time, such as runny noses and excess phlegm. According to Ayurveda, these are manifestations of excess Kapha dosha, comprised of earth and water elements. Understanding Ayurveda's physics-based approach reminds us that these symptoms are not random occurrences but rather the result of earlier imbalances, exacerbated by the changing seasons.


Addressing and preventing allergies in accordance with Ayurvedic principles involves personalized recommendations tailored to individual constitutions, medical histories, and current imbalances. While general suggestions can be beneficial, consulting with a local Ayurvedic practitioner ensures a customized approach aligned with your unique needs and circumstances.

Preventive Measures for Spring Wellness


Early Winter Preparation: Initiate prevention measures in early winter months, typically around October.

Nasal Rinse (Neti):

  • Perform nasal rinse or Neti with lukewarm water and Himalayan rock salt.

  • Administer daily on an empty stomach and in the mornings.

  • After Neti, engage in deep exhalations to ensure no water particles remain in the nasal passage.

  • Neti, originally an Ayurvedic treatment, is now recognized in conventional medicine.

  • Ayurvedically, salt's property of bhedan (breakdown) enhances nasal mucus digestion, extending beyond the alimentary canal to the body's overall metabolic processes. ​​ ​​​​​​​​

Nasya:

  • Administer warm sesame oil drops in each nostril on an empty stomach.

Incorporate Bitter Greens:

  • Introduce bitter greens (fenugreek greens/radish greens/kale) in late winter.

  • The bitter taste, comprising air and space elements, aids in drying excess bodily water accumulation, particularly heightened by rising external temperatures, aimed at maintaining internal cooling.


Relief Strategies for Spring Ailments


Nasal Rinse or Neti:

  • Utilize nasal rinse or Neti technique.


Steam:

  • Employ steam therapy to clear nasal passages.


Ginger, Holy Basil, and Rock Candy Decoction:

  • Prepare a decoction by boiling 2 holy basil (Tulsi) leaves, 1/4th tsp. of freshly grated ginger, and a few rock candies in a cup of water until reduced to 1/4th cup.

  • Optionally, add 1-2 pounded black pepper balls if heartburn is not a concern.


Dry Ginger Powder Paste Application:

  • Create a paste by mixing dry ginger powder with enough water to form a thick consistency.

  • Apply the paste to the nose and forehead until dry, then rinse off.

  • Exercise caution as this remedy may cause skin irritation.


Comprehensive Approach: Prevention and Alleviation During Spring


Stay Hydrated:

  • Drink warm to hot water whenever feeling thirsty.


Dietary Adjustments:

  • Reduce intake of ghee and fried foods during the months of March to May.


Incorporate Spices:

  • Include spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric in your daily diet.


Aged Honey Consumption:

  • Incorporate aged honey (raw, uncooked, local honey that is at least 6 months old) into your diet during this season.


Regular Exercise:

  • Engage in regular exercise, with a minimum of a 30-minute walk on an empty stomach being mandatory.


Contraindications:

  • Avoid daytime naps and consumption of yogurt during the spring season.


 

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in Ayurveda articles is intended for general educational purposes only. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that considers each individual unique, and no one-size-fits-all advice can be applied wholesale to everyone. It is essential to consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare professional for personalized guidance and customized applications based on your individual needs, constitution, and health condition.

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