Allergies got you down?
Spring is the time of year when allergies can really run rampant, particularly Kapha-type allergies.
Allergies are a misguided and hypersensitive response of the immune system to a foreign substance. This generates the release of mediator chemicals, like histamines, leukotrienes, and cytokines, that are responsible for the inflammatory response giving one the telltale symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Most often in the Western world, aside from complete removal of the allergen, most allergy sufferers are told their only options to relieve symptoms are either regularly taking allergy medications or having a series of shots over a long period of time. But that’s definitely not the case in the Ayurvedic world. Ayurveda has a wealth of wisdom to offer here with a unique perspective and several tools.
Ayurvedic Perspective on Allergies
First and foremost, the root cause of an allergy will differ for each person as we are all truly unique with our own unique set of tendencies. Also, how the allergy manifests and in what part or system of the body it will be expressed will be in accordance with your unique makeup.
There are a few reasons why some are more prone to them than others, but allergies are ultimately a sign that your system is out of balance. There are several ways your system can become imbalanced and manifest allergy symptoms:
A build-up of toxins (ama)
A disturbed digestive fire (agni)
A stressed & weakened immune system
A diet and lifestyle not in accordance with your constitution
Consistent exposure or exposure to a high level of allergen
When your system is imbalanced, it is synonymous with saying one or more of your doshas are aggravated. Typically your dominant dosha often is the culprit - but truly any dosha can be aggravated depending on your constitution in relation to these factors mentioned above.
Don’t know what a dosha is? Learn more here.
With that in mind, here are the ways to find balance to provide relief from allergy symptoms, and how to ultimately avoid them altogether:
Align your diet, lifestyle, and environment with your unique constitution to balance your doshas.
Strengthen your digestive fire.
Regularly detoxify your system.
If applicable, remove any particular substance that is causing/aggravating the allergy.
As we are all unique, everyone will present with allergies uniquely based on their makeup. Although there are certain allergic symptoms that may be more common for one dosha than the other, it’s important to note that Vata plays a special role in allergies. Vata is the energy of movement, and can therefore push your other two doshas out of balance and into other areas of the body, so the following list of dosha-related symptoms and solutions are not always black and white. This is why one is encouraged to work individually with an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner to truly understand and resolve their allergies.
Vata-type allergies can happen any time of year for those with aggravated Vata dosha, but are particularly more likely around Fall and the beginning of Winter when the energy of air and space dominate the environment, increasing Vata dosha in most. Symptoms can include headache, muscle ache and fatigue, wheezing and sneezing, dryness in the body (dry cough, dry skin, dry eyes, dry sinuses), anxiety, and feeling spacey or scattered in the mind.
Key components to reduce Vata allergies:
~ Deep hydration of the body & pacification of the nervous system
grounding meals (warm, moist food with plenty of rich fats & sweet taste, demulcent herbs with nervine action)
keep a solid daily routine (regular meals, regular sleep times)
calming lifestyle practices (meditation, pranayama, yin yoga, quiet time in nature)
abhyanga (daily self-massage) with a warm & heavy oil like sesame
nasya for lubricating the nasal passages
Pitta-type allergies can also happen any time of the year for those with aggravated pitta dosha, but are more likely around Summer and early Fall when the energy of Fire dominates the environment, increasing Pitta dosha in most. Symptoms can include headache, itchy/burning red eyes, inflammation on the skin (hives, eczema, rashes), in the sinuses (sinusitis), and in the airways (bronchitis), feeling irritable, and a lack of patience.
Key components to reduce Pitta allergies:
~ Strengthen the liver, cool the body & calm the mind
cooling foods, herbs & beverages with plenty of sweet & bitter taste
lessen heating substances (alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, red meat, hot spices, etc)
avoid excessive heat & direct sunlight
daily self-massage with a cooling oil like coconut
don’t skip meals
With all that pollen flying around ushering in a time of explosive growth in nature, Kapha allergies take center stage in Spring. Of course, they too can happen any time of the year for those with aggravated Kapha dosha, but are more likely during late Winter and all of Spring when the energy of water and earth dominate the environment, increasing Kapha dosha in most. Symptoms can include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, congestion from excess mucus in the head and sinuses, edema, and a feeling of heaviness & sluggishness.
Key components to reduce Kapha allergies:
~ Stimulate the lymphatic system, strengthen the lungs & invigorate the body and mind
We are complex beings, and therefore, solutions to wellbeing are often multi-faceted, and our systems benefit most when we listen to our body and work to align with it naturally versus oppressing symptoms with a pharmaceutical pill with negative side effects. Finding the root cause of your allergies and making the necessary changes over time to balance your system naturally is the most rewarding, life-enhancing, and positive long-term solution.