Allergy is a hyperactive response of our immune system to substances like food, dust, pets like dogs and cats, pollen, drugs, molds etc. that are collectively called as allergens. Duration of allergies vary from person to person. For some its short time and for others it may continue for longer periods. Ayurveda suggests changes in lifestyle and diet to control and manage allergies.
Signs and symptoms:
The important signs and symptoms of this disorder is given below.
- Itchy Skin.
- Rash formation at the point of scratching
- Inflammation in lips
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Itching of eyes
- Mental confusion
- Irregular heartbeat
- Breathing problems
- Sneezing and wheezing
- Nasal congestion
- Throat tightness
Causes of allergy:
- Food allergies to peanuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts etc.
- Shrimp and crab meat
- Foods trigger allergy i.e. eggs, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts and fish
Ayurveda treatment and tips to prevent allergy:
Ayurveda has been treating allergies from thousands of years now. As the flowers start to bloom or the leaves start to fall, it becomes difficult to avoid the allergens at school or at work. Ayurveda believes in keeping one’s immune system strong to offer protection against allergies by restoring balance.
Bala which means “strength” in Sanskrit, is the ayurvedic word for immunity. Ama and Ojas are the two elements that impact Bala. Ama, is the sticky product of undigested food. It lowers the immunity by clogging the channels that carry food to the cells and that remove wastes. It affects our immune system and make our body prone to infections and free radicals.
On the other hand, Ojas is the product of perfect digestion. It boosts our immune system and is the basis of good health. Ayurvedic therapies focus in increasing Ojas. Ojas is characterized by health, happiness, lightness and overall strength in the body.
The theory of immunity in Ayurveda called the Beej-Bhumi theory, states that our body is like “land” and infections are like “seeds”. If the body is filled with Ama it becomes a fertile land for spreading allergies and infections. But if, digestion is strong, and Ojas predominates in the body, then the seeds of infection will not be able flourish. The mind-body connection says that – physical can affect the mental and the mental affects the physical. The lungs are a very important organ for Prana, or life breath, in the body. We inhale oxygen through the lungs. It mixes with our blood, nourishes it to be circulated in our body and to the brain to nourish the mind and senses. If the channels of the lungs are clogged with Ama, then immunity diminishes and an infection or allergy can take hold. The lungs become prone to infection. This imbalance in the lungs, causes less oxygen to be circulated to the brain, which creates stress to our mind.
There are three major factors for common imbalance in the lungs which are related to flu, colds, allergies and coughs:
- Ignoring the natural urges like the urge to urinate, the urge to sneeze or yawn, or any such urge can create an imbalance and trigger the chain of reactions leading to decrease in immunity of our lungs.
- The second factor is related to what we eat. Eating warm, freshly-cooked, light and easy to digest foods is important. Avoid eating too much left-overs, or junk food as they increase Ama and lower the Ojas in our body. Ama producing foods lower our immunity by blocking the channels.
- Apart from this, excessive jealousy, excessive mental and emotional stress, too much exercise, and weight lifting beyond your capacity next to your chest are the factors that lower immunity of the lungs.
Respiratory problems tend to crop up during changing seasons that is during the fall and late winter or early spring.
This is because our digestive fire or Agni, starts to fluctuate dramatically as there is transition between the hot and cold seasons. If we do not adjust our diet and lifestyle according to the season, we can end up building Ama. This increases the risk of getting flu or cold as our body is now fertile for infections.
In the early spring, the accumulated Ama from the winter starts to melt. This floods the channels and overloads our immune system. Further, it weakens the immune system making it fertile for bacteria and allergens. Ayurveda Panchkarma includes a cleansing program consisting of ayurvedic massage, and intestinal cleansing treatments, to get rid of accumulated Ama. It also strengthens the digestive fire which prevents further accumulation of Ama. During this time, start following Kapha-pacifying diet. Hot Barley soups with vegetables like cauliflower or string beans can be good Kapha-reducing option.
During winters, eating warm, light and nourishing foods such as soups, or light meals with vegetables and grains such as quinoa and millet will help burn away Ama. Enhance the digestive fire by including immune-boosting spices such as turmeric, ginger, fennel, black pepper and cumin. Drink plenty of warm fluids and lukewarm water all day long. Take daily walks or do other exercises. Avoid eating or drinking anything cold, because cold foods and drinks will enhance the impact of cold weather. Avoid heavy sweets that are difficult to digest. Eat Vata-pacifying foods including grains, juicy fruits, squashes, zucchini etc. Asparagus is especially good for enhancing the immune system.
A warm bath opens the pores and regulates the body’s internal thermostat. It is important in both Vata and Kapha season. Following a daily self massage routine is equally important. It helps in opening the channels and removes toxins from our body. It’s important to note that massage is NOT recommended if you already have a cough or other respiratory imbalance, because it can push the Ama deeper into the system.
Sleep deprived people also have lower immunity. Exercise is also important as per Ayurvedic routine as it enhances Agni and flushes out the toxins. Daily walks and yoga postures are good for balancing all the doshas.
Ayurveda suggests following lifestyle for a person suffering from allergies:
- Wake up with the sun.
- Ensure proper bowel movements.
- Eat easily digestible food in small portions but not too late in the evening.
- Have a disciplined lifestyle.
- Incorporate yoga asanas and meditation to stay fit.
- Herbal oil massage helps a lot.
- Panchkarma is a wonderful natural Ayurvedic cure for different allergies.
- Ginger root tea is beneficial for respiratory disorders.
- Apply a few drops of warm sesame oil in ears at bedtime.
- Drink luke warm water and other beverages at room temperature.