After a long harsh winter season all we want is to enjoy the weather outside. But how can that be possible when we experience endless sneezing, sinus congestion and a stuffy head? These are all signs that pollen and pollution are creating an allergy reaction. Many find relief on over-the-counter drugs and many do not. Besides over-the-counter drugs are associated with some unwanted side effects. Antihistamines are associated with drowsiness, dizziness, stomach problems, dry mouth, nose and throat. Nasal corticosteroids can cause headache, nausea, nasal dryness and irritation and long-term use can cause fungal infections of the throat.
Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge), one of the world’s oldest medical systems, that aims for balance in nutrition and lifestyle practices. Ayurveda has a holistic approach to improve or eliminate your allergy symptoms that is natural and also cheap! Follow the steps below for a misery-free spring season:
- Neti Pot is part of Kriyas, a yogic practice that cleanses and purifies the internal organs and energy channels. This technique is used to clean your nasal passageways:
- Warm up some distilled water until it is lukewarm, add a pinch of the neti salt to the lukewarm water, and mix it until the salt is dissolved. Usually the neti salts come with a measuring scoop
- Add the lukewarm water with the neti salt to the neti pot
- Over a sink turn your head sideways and place the neti pot into your nostril. The key here is to relax and allow the water to flow through one nostril to the opposite one, some may go down your throat, do not panic, just spit it out
- Repeat to the opposite nostril
The water might not flow easily, which can be due to a blockage in the nasal passageway of inflammatory material. Relax and try it once more, you will be glad you did! Place the neti pot into your nostril once again and inhale slightly through the same nostril allowing the water to flow upward, with some patience it will flow to the opposite nostril. Switch to the other side. Beginners can use half the pot for each nostril; eventually you will be able to do an entire pot for each nostril. Keep your neti pot clean and sanitized to avoid microorganisms’ growth.
- Nasyam Oil is an ayurvedic practice that helps to lubricate the nose, and cleanse sinuses. It treats allergies, headache, and asthma. It also improves vision and hearing; it prevents premature graying of hair, early skin wrinkles and degeneration of brain cells. It also delays aging. In other words it is an amazing practice that brings many health benefits!
- Lying face up, head back by lifting the chin up, apply 4 drops of sesame, sunflower, coconut oil or anu thailam (also an oil), into each nostril
- Sniff it and breath in and out
- Close right nostril inhale and exhale, close left nostril inhale and exhale
- Turn the head to the right inhale and exhale, turn to opposite side inhale and exhale. Don’t swallow mouth content. Spit it out
- Stand up and gargle with water 3 times then spit it out
The coconut oil should be liquid consistency; to warm it, place few drops in a tablespoon and bring it to candlelight until warm to touch. Do not use hot oil!
Our nose is the door to the brain, so nasal drops nourishes prana (life force) and brings on intelligence. Sesame oil is better for Vata dosha (constitution), sunflower and coconut oil for Pitta dosha and calamus root oil is better for Kapha dosha. The practice of pranayama (breathing exercises) also cleanses the nasal passageways. Choose a pranayama practice according to your dosha. Find out your dosha through an Ayurveda assessment, part of my nutrition assessment and plan.
- Healthy eating. Follow a healthy diet in order to enhance your immune system and protect you from an allergy reaction from pollen and pollution. Add plenty of vegetables and some fruits to your daily eating habits in order to meet you vitamin C daily needs, this vitamin is an antioxidant that increases the body’s ability to fight infection and disease. Vitamin C is also a histamine inhibitor. Histamine activates the inflammatory response in allergy reactions.
- Raw local honey. 2 tablespoons per day. Make sure the honey is RAW to guarantee it contains all the living enzymes needed to protect your body from a histamine reaction. Make sure it is also LOCAL, which means that the honey is harvested nearby where the same sorts of plants are blooming.
According to Ayurveda, allergies are related to digestion so improving you digestion means improving your allergy symptoms. Below is a list of foods that slows down digestion and produces excessive sinuses mucus, both contributors to your allergy symptoms:
- Milk and dairy products including cheese and ice cream
- Oily foods, such as doughnuts
- Fried foods
- Cold beverages
- Foods cooked or reheated in a microwave
Eat foods that will expel toxins from the body, like bitter greens (arugula, collard greens, kales, and watercress), and spices like cinnamon, garlic, ginger and pepper. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water through out the day, one sip at the time! Make sure the water is at room temperature. Spice it up with chunks of ginger and/ or the juice of a lemon or lime. Tea is also a great way to increase your fluid intake.
Note: Your hair can collect pollen when you are outside. Wash you hair before going to bed to avoid pollen to fall into your pillow, which can result in an allergy reaction by you inhaling it during the night.
The recommendations above can be done daily. Either one of them may bring relief to your allergy symptoms but a combination of them all can help stop your allergy now and from returning next year!
Bring your health into balance by discovering your dosha type, also known as your constitution, through an Ayurvedic analysis.
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the founder of Nutritioness, which will empower and guide you to develop a sound and nurturing relationship with food and physical activity in order to achieve optimal health. Nutritioness integrates the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, Western medical nutrition therapy, and fitness. My counseling guides individuals to restore and maintain vitality and supports longevity. Please follow me here for periodical posts on nutrition, fitness and wellness!