Spring and Fall are the periods of transformation in nature and have a great impact on our inner transformation also. Most people suffer from seasonal allergies during this time due to increased concentration of allergens like dust/pollen in the atmosphere.
I’d like to share a few tips here to help you get relief from seasonal allergies in a natural way.
1. Learn to understand your allergic response
According to the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, we all have a unique body composition with which we are born. Our unique body type is determined by the presence of various combinations of earth, water, fire, air and space elements in our cells. As we experience changes in our external environment, based on our unique internal body composition, we experience varied reactions when exposed to allergens in our environment.
People with dominance of earth/water (Kapha type) in their constitution tend to have hay fever, cough, cold, congestion, sinus infection, asthma etc. and they experience the flare-ups especially during spring season.
People with dominance of air/space (Vata type) in their constitution tend to have sudden wheezing, sneezing, headache, ringing in ears, bloating, insomnia etc. and they experience the flare-ups mostly during fall.
People with dominance of water/fire (Pitta type) in their constitution tend to have rashes, hives, itching, eczema etc.
So, based on the symptoms that you are experiencing, first try to understand the imbalance/vitiation in your body which may be excess kapha, vata or pitta.
2. Eat the right diet to balance your vitiation
According to the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, food is medicine and origin of all diseases in the body is due to accumulation of toxins, because of indigestion of food or thoughts/emotions. Therefore, this ancient tradition emphasizes on eating the right food to support our unique body types in order to balance the vitiation.
- People experiencing excess kapha type symptoms should avoid dairy, cold food, sugars, refined flour, red meat etc. They should eat plenty of fresh vegetables/salads/fruits and some carbohydrates in the form of whole grains like rye, barley, buckwheat etc. About 20% of their diet may comprise of protein from chicken, turkey, eggs, beans etc.
They may also prepare a herbal tea containing ginger root, licorice root, turmeric root, 1-2 basil leaves and cardamom pods. Raw honey (preferably from a local source) may be added just before drinking. It is very beneficial to add little ghee (clarified cultured butter) and some pungent spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic, cayenne pepper, bay leaf, cloves etc. to cooked food.
- People experiencing excess vata type symptoms should avoid cold and dry food items. They should be eating 50% whole grains, 20-30% freshly cooked vegetables/sweet fruits and 20% protein from dairy products, eggs, poultry, meats, seafood, tofu, lentils etc.
They may prepare some broth from seasonal vegetables and protein of their choice and drink a cup of it 2-3 times a day. It is also beneficial to add some ghee (clarified cultured butter) and spices like ginger, garlic, anise seeds, asafoetida, cinnamon, basil etc.
- People experiencing pitta type symptoms should avoid very hot and spicy foods. They should eat plenty of whole grains, about 30% fresh fruits/vegetables and 20% protein from raw dairy products, egg whites, tofu, white meat, beans etc. Herbs/Spices like fresh basil, fresh ginger root, cilantro, mint, dill, turmeric, fennel seeds etc. may be added to raw or cooked food items.
To help with healing of the skin rashes, 1 tsp coconut oil/pure aloe Vera gel mixed with 1 drop of lavender oil and 1 drop of tea tree oil may be applied.
3. Natural herbs and supplements to support healing
In any type of allergies two important actions always support our body - first systemic detoxification of our intestines and second measures to increase immunity of our body. Ayruvedic herbal combination Triphala contains three fruits Amlaki, Hritaki and Bibhitaki, which aid in systemic detoxification of our intestines. It acts as a purgative as well as gentle laxative. Another supplement pure Aloe Vera gel/juice is also very beneficial for supporting the colon. These may be either taken as supplements or through warm sitz bath. As a supplement, you may take ¼ tsp Triphala powder and 1 tsp Aloe Vera gel/juice with warm water three times a day with meals. To prepare solution for your sitz bath, boil 1 tsp Triplaha powder in 3 cups of water and let it stand for 15 minutes. Then add 3-4 cups of plain water and 2oz. Aloe Vera juice to it. Keep this solution as warm as comfortable to you and pour it in your sitz bath container, and sit in it for 15-20 minutes. Both these supplements are good for long term use and may be used until there is relief in symptoms.
Few other supplements which are very beneficial for allergies are Omega-3s, natural fiber, vitamin C and Probiotics which may be taken as a pill or by eating foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, Kim-chi etc.
4. Essential oils to ease breathing and purify air
Pure essential oils are very helpful in clearing our respiratory pathways as well as our surrounding environment. It is highly recommended to stay away from chemical based air fresheners, if you are suffering from any kind of allergies. The most important oils to help with allergies are Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Tea tree oil. You may also add Basil and Rosemary for added advantage. Frankincense oil is also very beneficial as it boosts our immunity and helps in reducing inflammation.
There are many ways of using these oils as:
- Use topically mixed with any carrier oil such as coconut, almond, sesame etc. You may add 2-3 drops of essential oils in 1tsp of carrier oil and rub it on your inner wrists, behind the ears, chest, soles of feet etc.
- Add 4-5 drops of essential oils to your diffuser and let it run for few hours to purify the space around you. Car diffusers may also be used in the same way to purify the space in your car.
- Add about 20-30 drops of essential oils to 2oz. of purified water in a mist generating bottle and spray it in your room/car, over your linen/pillows or on your skin/clothing. Try to use amber/blue color glass bottles as mist sprayers and always keep them away from direct sunlight.
5. Tapping and Breathing Exercises
Tapping with your fingertips on the sternum, just in the middle of your chest stimulates the Thymus gland and strengthens your immunity. Another important place to tap is just under the rib-cage on both sides of the body. It stimulates our liver and spleen to help them get rid of various toxins. You may tap at these two positions 20-40 times in the morning and evening.
Do some deep breathing everyday. You may breathe in slowly through the nose filling up your whole belly with the breath, hold your breath for as long as comfortable and then breathe out through the mouth slowly as if you are blowing a candle. Take 5-10 deep breaths like this many times throughout your day. It relaxes your nervous system and fosters a sense of peace and well-being.
Alternate breathing exercise is also very beneficial for allergies. To practice it, you may close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe in through left nostril slowly, hold for as long as comfortable and whenever you are ready to breathe out switch and close the left nostril with one of your fingers and breathe out slowly through right nostril. Now, for the next breath, breathe in through the same open right nostril and switch to close the right nostril with your thumb in order to breathe out through left nostril. This completes one round of alternate breathing and you may do 10-30 such rounds twice daily.
Another breathing exercise which is very beneficial to help with allergies is exaggerated lung breathing. Here we primarily focus on forcefully contracting our lungs while breathing out. It helps to expel stale air from lung pockets and makes room for more fresh oxygen to enter into the lungs. You may start by taking a gentle in-breath and then using your diaphragm try to breathe out as much forcefully as comfortable to you. You may take 10-20 continuous breaths like this, and then repeat it 2 more times.
To augment our healing process, there is one more important aspect to understand i.e. supporting our mental and emotional body. We must learn to be more adaptable to changes around us and should be able to accept them as a natural course of action. If we try to cling to our old habits/thought patterns and resist change, we create disharmony within every cell of our body and in turn weaken our immunity. Try to do some self-reflection every day to accept and understand the changes within and around you. You may also practice While Light Guided Meditation to help you heal and rejuvenate.
I wish you the best for partnering in your own healing process and hope that these little tips will help you move forward on your journey towards Wellness.