Seasonal Allergies most commonly occur in the Spring Season. The symptoms can range from congestion to brain fog. Some people can experience the symptoms and still somewhat continue with their work and life, while others remain indoors, feeling fatigued and are not able to function. Although seemingly harmless, allergies can affect the quality of your life impeding the flow and making you feel miserable. Red, itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing and coughing are the most common symptoms; however, some people may suffer general aches and pains along with a slight fever and other discomforts.
One of the main causes is the compromised immune system. Our immune system is a wonderful yet complex system. When in balance, it identifies and eliminates potential threats to our health such as toxins, bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. However, it can react too aggressively to a foreign substance in the environment which is usually harmless such as pollen, mold or animal dander. We can experience the uncomfortable symptoms as the body works to eradicate that. If these symptoms are not addressed, it can affect our lungs causing asthmatic symptoms or skin conditions. Body can also have an allergic reaction to food, medications or other foreign material. Another cause is Ama(toxins) accumulates in our bodies, causing blockages that impair our digestion at a cellular level. These blockages in turn confuse our bodies into defending themselves from a perceived threat. Other causes are weakened digestive fire ( Agni) and state of imbalance in the body.
Some people are allergy prone and will react to the foreign particles and will produce antibodies to combat them. This can, in turn, cause some cells to release histamines into our system. Histamines are the cause of the dreaded allergy symptoms that occur in many people. The histamine blockers can help providing symptomatic relief.
Ayurvedic approach to dealing with allergies is to strengthen Agni, build immunity and create a doshic balance in the body. Many factors go into this treatment such as diet, herbal medicine, lifestyle. Taking some time to bring a state of balance in the body, building digestion and strengthening immunity is the key in the treatment and a worthwhile effort that will not only alleviate the allergy symptoms but improve your overall health so you can once again enjoy the Spring. Doing a spring cleanse and/or Panchkarma is highly recommended.
There are three types of allergies identified in Ayurveda. Let’s look at each in detail below:
- Vata-type allergies: These are usually caused by dust and molds. Windy, cold weather has a tendency to aggravate the additional symptoms, which may include tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and gastric bloating and pains. If there are asthmatic symptoms like wheezing or difficulty breathing, usually there is not much mucus produced but more constriction in the bronchi. Avoid beans and gas-forming foods as well as the consumption of all raw foods, especially during allergy season. Other vegetables to avoid are broccoli and cauliflower.
- Pitta-type allergies: These are usually caused by contact with pollens, dust or fabrics as well as pet hair. Symptoms tend to display as skin irritations like rashes, allergic types of psoriasis or eczema. Hives, red eyes, fevers and yellowish mucus when coughing are additional symptoms. Hot weather also tends to aggravate these types of allergies. Avoid salty, hot and spicy foods, fermented foods like yogurts and cheeses along with alcohol and deep fried foods. Certain fruits, like oranges and strawberries, play a key role in triggering pitta-type allergies, so it’s a good idea to avoid them as well.
- Kapha-type allergies: These are the most common allergies generally triggered in springtime, as the trees start to bloom and release pollens into the air. Common symptoms include cough and colds along with heavy congestion or sinitus. Generally speaking, the mucus secreted is clear. There is a tendency for the body to feel heavy and lethargic during this time. Asthmatic symptoms may also occur along with irritation of the mucous membranes. Foods to avoid are cold beverages, sweet items like desserts, along with any excessively sour or salty tastes. Drinking ginger tea will help increase digestion and burn excess Ama that may have accumulated during this time.