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Basic Approach to Seasonal Allergies: An Ayurvedic Perspective

March 08, 2017

Yoga for Men

Up until 1997 I suffered from annual allergies and regular colds. Colds would last me anywhere from 7-12 days and allergies were just consistent especially during allergy season and into most of summer. I would take over the counter medications and I even had prescribe medications all of which may have provided some temporary resolve but no long term reduction in site. Year after year it was the same regardless until 1997 when I had the first remedy that helped me to stop having such an aggravating experience.

 

I decided to take a meditation course and through that the yogi, a neurophysiologist for the Himalayan Institute, who instructed us to purchase a Neti Pot, as he explained the numerous benefits of it and how it would be a powerful asset to yoga (physical exercises), pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. I immediately went to the bookstore after class and purchased a one. I did Neti for my first time and did it religiously every day. I noticed how after even a couple weeks that the allergies were lessening. After one year of consistent usage my colds and allergies reduced to 50% and then the following year it was down to 10-20%. Now, 17 years later, I may have allergies that last for a day during the peak time of year and colds are rare, not to mention that they only last a day or two. What has contributed towards these amazing results, and not isolated to the introduction of the Neti Pot but the changing of my diet. Diet is pivotal during this process. I find that most people in my Ayurveda holistic practice are unwilling to make such a change. They would rather continue eating and luxuriating in aggravating tendencies, take over the counter medications that have side effects such as excess dryness, sleepiness, liver aggravation, cognitive aggravation and many more, rather than make some adjustment and listen to their bodies and remove those things that the body is trying to say is not the best for it. I have worked with hundreds of patients and found great success in allergy eradication, if not reduction, simply by introducing practices such as diet, herbs, exercise, breathing techniques and of course the Neti Pot. Not only have they benefited but I continue to be my own first patient and keep the allergies at bay. If they’re around I simply look at what I’m doing, and not doing, that causes them to be invited back into my day.

WHAT ARE SEASONAL ALLERGIES

Simply, they are exactly that. They show up mainly during the spring season and end of summer, early fall. But, why is that? It is during the spring time that the buds begin budding on trees and plants, grasses begin to grow and life is returning to the atmosphere through pollination. The air becomes thickened by pollen and seedlings to help procreate the natural kingdom and bring us the fruits of the summer and harvests of the fall. So, the issue isn’t what nature is doing but what the body is doing that is reacting to it. When we experience allergies, histamines in the body are reacting to what is entering the body through food, air and water.     Generally, histamines are released as an inflammatory response based on our immune system defense of the body that serves to “attack”, by protecting, the body from foreign agents/particles circulating around the blood. The body has four main filtration systems. The first one is the skin on the outside of the body. Second, we have the nose, sinus and overall respiratory system. Thirdly, we have the liver and lastly the kidneys. Additionally, the body contains and involves a very important physiological component that supports and is tied into immunity consisting of the lymphatic system. It is responsible for immunity, parallels arteries and veins throughout the body and is responsible for eliminating toxins from the body. It’s considered the “sewage system” of the body and eventually leads back to the GI Tract so that toxins are removed from the body via urine, feces and sweat. When the body has reached a limit in processing toxins, and can no longer clear what toxins may be floating around it will increase in sensitivity and be triggered by outer agents as a result.

Some symptoms include:

Congestion, sneezing, bloody nose, aggravations and allergic reactions to certain foods such as cheese, dairy, bread, gluten, anything yeasted, tiredness, dry skin, excessively oily skin, swollen joints, lethargy, grumpiness, tightness in liver and/or abdominal area, constipation, loose stools, low oxygen in the system, fogginess in the mind, watery eyes, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, hives, acne, irritability, depression, anxiety, insomnia, overall feeling of low energy, pain in joints, lacking motivation and sleepy more than usual.

The body’s primary means of communicating is through symptoms. When something feels good, you know it and when something doesn’t feel so good, you know it. It’s that simple and it is letting you know through its allergic reactions that the inner harmony and chemistry of the body is out of balance.

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TOWARDS SEASONAL ALLERGY PRODUCTION

According to Ayurvedic Medicine, allergies in general and especially seasonal allergies is a result of one main factor, digestion. In Ayurveda, it is understood that the main cause of all disease begins in the digestive system, specifically the stomach. Digestion is ruled by Jatharagni (that aspect of the digestive fire including the digestive enzymes, like hydrochloric acid, but also the heat itself in the stomach), governed by Pitta (the fire/water element of the body that oversees the endocrine system and digestive system) and designed to transform anything that enters into it into usable sources of nutrients and the building blocks of the body. When the homeostasis of the digestive system is compromised we experience so many symptoms that later develop not only into allergies but into other disease causing factors. Ayurveda says that mainly all disease come back to what is going on with the digestive system. We also know that in the Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GI) that there is a fine line of natural microbial activity that lines the entire GI Tract and extends as far as the outside of the body where the skin encases everything. The skin is known as the first line of immunity and defense for the body. The sinus and oral cavity itself is a complex system of epithelium that guards the inside of the body from aggravating agents that can challenge health by protecting the body from foreign agents, bacterium, virus, fungi and other airborne pathogens. When the skin on the outside and inside of the body are negatively weakened the body responds immunologically in order to protect anything else from penetrating deeper and causing chaos, leading to disease pathogenesis.

So how can this happen? The body has been compromised over time. Seasonal allergies don’t typically happen spontaneously without having had some sort of history that has contributed towards the onset of symptoms.

PART A- One main influence is through foods such as:

1-    Cold food/beverages.

2-    Ice in beverages.

3-    Frozen foods/beverages.

4-    Wheat/Gluten.

5-    Soy (tofu, tempeh and the like).

6-    Alcohol

7-    Fermented Food (such as cheese, bread).

8-    Dairy, yogurt and other mucus producing foods.

9-    Excessive salt and/or salty food.

10-  Sweet foods. Sugary foods. Starchy foods. Desserts and ice cream, including Froyo (frozen yogurt).

11-  Caffeine in the form of coffee more specifically.

12-  Heavy foods, such as potatoes, pizza, sandwiches, beef, pork, bacon, pasta and breads.

13-  Eating greasy foods.

14-  Excess spicy foods (depending on constitution according to Vata, Pitta, Kapha).

15-  Poor diet, like eating fast foods (ESPECIALLY).

16-  Eating processed food.

17-  Eating sweets after meals.

18-  Drinking liquids right after meals.

19-  Eating a heavy breakfast, or any breakfast (depending on Vata, Pitta, Kapha constitution).

20-  Eating late dinners.

21-  Not hydrating enough with water.

PART B- Other factors include:

1-    Medications (because they can be drying or mucus forming).

2-    Smoking of any kind.

3-    Staying up late.

4-    Lack of exercise (for lymphatic pumping), that provokes sweating.

5-    Losing sleep.

6-    Not eating timely and in alignment with the daily cycle.

7-    Dry sinus’.

8-    Dry mouth.

9-    Dryness in general. Dry skin.

10-  Dry climate.

11-  Traveling (especially by plane).

12-  Genetic factors.

13-  Cervical Spine injuries, trauma, tension.

14-  Constitutional factors relating to Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

15-  Laziness.

16-  Environmental pollutants (water, soil, air).

17-  Sleeping excessively and/or sleeping/napping after meals.

18-  Not showering in the morning or regularly.

19-  Not brushing your teeth BEFORE breakfast or at all.

20-  Mental Stress.

21-  Deviated septum and other intracranial/facial dysfunctions.

  WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

First and most importantly, take a look at the foods/diet that contributes towards allergy production. Understand that your digestive system is compromised and refer to the above 21 points mentioned in Part A and adjust accordingly. It’s not that simple and most people would rather just keep eating and drinking those things that are provocative but I ask you to reflect on such things and invite you to ask yourself whether the symptoms are worth having due to unwillingness to change your current tendencies. I’m not saying that you will have to give these things up forever but it may be more worth it now to do so, instead of inviting in the allergies and other disease that can develop in the body later on as a result of not cleaning up house now. I’m not saying that sacrificing such foods and beverages is permanent, just for now because I can say that when the digestive system is back in order and the body is up and running again you will be able to enjoy such things BUT in moderation because you’ll now know what caused you to progress into symptoms to begin with. We sometimes go backwards to go forwards in Ayurveda and we do this by taking a few steps back from what we’re doing now by implementing a “diet” of sorts and then as the body regains its integrity we can move forward and succeed in health.

There’s no way around it though! If you’re unwilling to change your diet and lifestyle practices then you will not be rid of allergies. It really is that simple. Working in the medical profession where West and East meet on that bridge I’m sorry/not sorry to say  that NO western medication or eastern herb can remedy or fully resolve your symptoms if the foundation that involves the health of the body, that is contingent upon healthy foods and practices, isn’t put into place. There’s just no way. The body can’t be overridden by wrong use of thoughts because it will show in symptoms how it’s not being honored. This is why allergies usually come back over and over again. There’s a saying “if you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting”. If you make a different choice to change the patterns you will gain the benefits desired and be free of allergies, guaranteed. So what’s it worth to you?

Secondly, refer back to the list of 21 above in Part B and see what behaviors you model and do the opposite, make the change/adjustment.

Lastly, here are some other remedial actions to be taken in order to support the body in being free of allergies:

1-    Neti Pot every morning and even maybe 2-3x more during the day depending on how chronic the allergies are.

2-    Optionally, add a couple drops of eucalyptus oil to the Neti Pot.

3-    Oil pulling with sesame or coconut oil every day before brushing.

4-    Engage in physical exercise that raises the heart rate and promotes sweating, including yoga, hiking and bicycling. (At least 15 minutes and ideally every day, if not 3-4x week)

5-    Get a lymphatic drain massage, maybe once a week or twice a month.

6-    Use a sauna 1-2x week (make sure to cover your head with a cool wash cloth if it’s full body).

7-    Introduce pungent spices to your foods, such as cayenne, chili powder, ginger.

8-    Sip hot water throughout the day and with meals (just don’t guzzle).

9-    Purchase an air purifier for your home/bedroom.

10-  Apply a hot compress with cinnamon, ginger, tulsi or simple eucalyptus oil to the sinus’, daily.

11-  Liver cleanse. (Seek a professional for assistance)

12-  Detoxification/fasting. (Should be specific for your constitution as per Vata, Pitta, Kapha).

13-  Pranayam techniques such as Bhastrika, Kapalabhati and Surya Bheda can be helpful but should be monitored instructed by an expert (if you’re not versed already).

14-  Purchase a Nasya Oil from Banyan Botanicals (through the resources page on my website) or the Ayurvedic Institute (also on my website). Or you can make a simple one by adding a few 2-3 drops of eucalyptus, cinnamon, tulsi, rose and lotus to sesame or sunflower oil. Insert 3-5 drops into your Neti pot or independent of the Neti pot and every morning. 1-2 drops at night before bed, in each nostril.

15-  Digestive Enzymes in the form of pungent spices can aid in strengthening the digestive fire. Herbs like Triphala, Turmeric and Neem can also help but herbs are mainly contingent upon diet that is specific to your constitutional needs, NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL idea.

16-  If symptoms are chronic and/or long standing, see a professional practitioner, primary physician or even an ENT Specialist to determine any structural issues associated with your situation.

17-  If needed, have labs drawn to determine whether there are issues with diabetes, lipids/cholesterol/triglycerides which can also be corrected by diet and exercise.

18-  I reiterate that you should revisit and reconsider the above list in Part A and Part B to make the necessary changes. Just by changing a lot of those items you will notice results, sometimes immediately and sometimes within a few weeks but you will notice progress usually and if there aren’t other issues/factors to be ruled out.

19-  If you have any interest in seeking help and support with all this please find an Ayurvedic practitioner. I am always taking new clients and work out of various locations. You can reach me at LotusAAA75@aol.com and visit my website at www.hiddenhealthcenter.com. Follow me on Facebook at Vishnu Om and join my pages/groups Hidden Health Center on Facebook for other “tid bits.”

One  last point to end on is the consideration that Ayurveda knows that digestion not only takes place in the stomach and is the primary location of where disease formation can start but so is the mind. When we are stressed, having negative thoughts, repressed emotions and experiencing mental turbulence this has a direct effect on our digestive systems trickling from top down and therefore hindering the effectiveness of the digestive organs and GI Tract. When stress is present in the body and mind, cortisol is released, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is reactive and digestion is responding in an emergency state, causing a shut down and inhibiting its ability to digest. When stress is less and the mind and body are happy, oxytocin is more present, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is activated and digestion is working better, more efficiently to process food. The mind at ease is like the king who is happy. When the king is happy, so is the kingdom. When the kingdom is happy, so is the king. If the king is unhappy, so shall the kingdom be and vice versa. The mind is like the king and the body is the kingdom. Working together, there is harmony, life can be enjoyed!


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