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Self-Care Guide: Allergies
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ALLERGIES: WHAT YOU CAN DO
Researchers and doctors are still unclear on exactly why some people are affected by allergens such as dust, pollen and mold while others are not. Faced with data that the developed nations of the West have a higher incidence of allergies, scientists have put forward the "hygiene hypothesis" -- that the "clean"surroundings, immunizations and antibiotics prevalent in these countries may be responsible for many people's reactions to allergens. Other factors that may be contributing include diet, exposure to chemicals and carpeted housing.
Doctors have traditionally asked sufferers to avoid the allergens causing a reaction, but this is often easier said than done. Allergy shots currently available and antihistamines can create harmful side-effects and reactions, worsening the situation. Scientists and researchers appear to be convinced that the ultimate solution will be to figure out ways of teaching the body to be indifferent to innocuous allergens. The irony is that the human body is born knowing how to do just that: the question is, what can be done to prevent the body from "losing" that knowledge.
What Maharishi Ayurveda Says
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians explains that in respiratory allergies, a particular sub-dosha of Kapha, called Shleshaka Kapha, which is responsible for maintaining moisture in the upper respiratory tract, is involved. "As the Ama (digestive impurities) in the body starts melting, it combines with Shleshaka Kapha to form a thick, sticky toxin called shleshma, which starts to fill the respiratory tract and sinus cavities," says The Council. "The entire respiratory system, as a result, becomes a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and infection. This is the reason many allergies end up as secondary sinus and respiratory infections."
Strengthening the Bodys Defense Systems
What about diet? Researchers have found that a diet that includes regular intake of spices with anti-allergy capabilities can reduce vulnerability to plant-induced allergies. These spices contain allergy-fighting chemicals that include flavonoids and phenols -- for example, turmeric is rich in curcumin, a compound that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can also help improve digestion and balance the flow of bile. Sage, red pepper, cumin and coriander are some other spices that are known to be allergy fighters. Sauteing a combination of ground turmeric, cumin and coriander in ghee and using the mixture to season vegetables is a way of incorporating some of these allergy fighting spices into your diet.
From the ayurvedic perspective, it is important to follow a Kapha-Pitta pacifying diet. When allergens attack the body, the bodys immune system releases various chemicals. So it is considered essential to pacify Pitta because Pitta regulates chemical functions in the body. Drinking Pitta Tea or using the Cooling Spice Mix (food seasoning) are convenient ways of doing this. It is also important to pacify Kapha to counteract sluggish digestion and congestion. This is especially true in the Kapha season (spring).
Understanding that it is important to strengthen the bodys defense systems to effectively combat allergies is important. Appeasing symptoms provides only temporary relief.
DISCLAIMER: These results may not be typical. Results with products may vary from individual to individual. Information in this newsletter is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on ayurveda and neither the information nor the product is intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional. Before making changes to your diet or routine, it is recommended that you speak with your physician.
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