Five Ways to Prepare for Allergen Season
Are you one of 35 million Americans who start sneezing the minute spring flowers bloom? According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, outdoor allergen reactions, also called "seasonal allergic rhinitis" (SAR), "hay fever," or "nasal allergies," occur when people inhale mold spores or pollen from trees, grasses or weeds.
Many people who have outdoor allergen sensitivities also suffer when exposed to indoor allergens such as dust mites and dander of cats, dogs or rodents.
Whatever the cause, the inflammation, runny nose, itchy eyes and headache that accompany an allergic reaction can make you feel miserable. Prescription shots and antihistamines may reduce inflammation, but can cause harmful side effects. And today nearly half of the children in America suffer from allergen reactions.
What Causes an Allergic Reaction?
Doctors often tell patients to avoid the allergens, but according to Maharishi Ayurveda, it's not the allergens that cause the problem, but a weakened immune system. The long-term solution to eliminating allergen reactions is to improve immunity. Ayurvedic texts equate strong immunity with strong digestion. When digestion is weak, impurities and toxins build up in the body's cells and channels, blocking the normal supply of nutrients that nourish the cells — and also stopping the outflow of waste from the cells.
This is especially a problem in spring, when the impurities of winter "melt" and flood the micro-circulatory channels of the body with more toxins than usual. At the exact moment the body's immune system is already weakened, flowers burst into bloom and further tax the body's already-compromised ability to deal with impurities and pollens.
The good news is that immunity can be strengthened. Here are five ways to restore immunity and fight allergens the ayurvedic way.
Cleanse the body of toxins before the onset of spring and fall seasons.
Get a jump-start by eating a cleansing diet during the month before allergen season starts. Avoid eating heavy, indigestible foods such as ice cream and other ice-cold foods and drinks. Heavy desserts, oily or fried foods, sour yogurt, red meat, and hard cheeses are other foods to avoid. Stay away from leftovers, and packaged, canned, frozen or processed foods of any kind, as these are difficult to digest and include chemicals or preservatives that tax the liver and cause creation of reactive impurities.
Instead, eat a light, nourishing diet of cooked, lightly-spiced organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and dhal soups for protein.
Make sure the food is warm and deliciously cooked with spices. Go easy on the oils, but include a small amount of organic ghee or olive oil to sauté your spices in. Sip plenty of hot water throughout the day to help the body flush out toxins.
Once allergen season starts, eat according to the seasons.
During the allergen season (i.e. once spring or late summer starts), follow the seasonal diet recommended for that season, taking into account your body type. For instance, spring is the Kapha season, when there is more of the heavy, earthy, watery Kapha dosha predominant. So the ayurvedic dietary recommendations are to eat more pungent, bitter and astringent foods.
To continue to detoxify your body during the allergen season, eat lots of green vegetables and summer squashes, such as zucchini or lauki. Hard winter squashes such as pumpkin and butternut squash, on the other hand, are not recommended for preventing allergen reactions, as they are more difficult to digest.
Flavor your food with allergen-busting spices.
Many spices contain allergen-fighting chemicals such as flavonoids and phenols and can reduce plant-induced allergen reactions. 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, cumin and coriander are other known allergen fighters.
Get more rest during allergen season.
Diet, sleep and meditation are the three pillars of health in ayurveda. And when you think about it, whenever you're sick, your doctor says to get lots of rest to boost a depressed immune system. During allergen season, your immunity is under attack, so make sure you are getting enough sleep during the night.
Maharishi Ayurveda adds another precaution: make sure that you are sleeping at the optimal times. It would only increase your allergen reactions if you went to bed late and woke up late, as this kind of schedule throws the body's natural rhythms out of balance, causes toxins to block the microcirculatory channels and taxes the immune system. So make sure you're in bed well before 10:00 p.m. and up before 6:00 a.m. This will support the body's tendency to cleanse and purify itself after 10:00 p.m.
Maharishi Ayurveda also recommends that you reduce stress by meditating as part of your daily routine. Research shows that the Transcendental Mediation® technique, which takes only twenty minutes twice a day to practice but provides deeper rest than sleep, boosts the immune system and dramatically reduces stress. Studies indicate that allergen reactions and other immune-deficiency problems improve significantly after subjects start the practice of meditation.
Take herbal supplements to shore up immunity, help with inflammation and bolster one's defenses against seasonal allergens in the future.
Aller-Defense is the cornerstone of the Maharishi Ayurveda herbal supplements that target allergens. Taking this herbal supplement twice daily helps strengthen the body's immune system by purifying the body and removing toxins. The problem is not allergens themselves, but the body's response to them. When the immune system is weak, the body overreacts to simple allergens such as pollen, dust, etc. Aller-Defense helps block toxic reactions, improve digestion, and decrease sensitivity to allergens by nourishing and purifying the liver. By strengthening the immune system, the body does not overreact when allergens enter the body and allergic reactions can be reduced and sometimes eliminated.
This herbal formulation is designed for all types of allergens, because it enhances the body's overall capability to fight them. For best results, it is recommended that you start taking Aller-Defense 30 days before your reactions normally begin. This will give Aller-Defense time to have its cleansing and strengthening effect on the immune system.
Clear Breathe is a potent combination of essential oils. Add a few drops to boiling water, then inhale as a steam procedure to soothe the respiratory system, support cleansing of impurities, and balance phlegm.
Protection Plus Sinuses is a powerful formula targeted to clear and heal the sinuses. It helps cleanse and clear the passages of the sinus area and is especially effective in flushing out deep-rooted toxins to maintain long-term sinus health and immunity.
It includes Chebulic Myrobalan, Mica and Marshmallow to help lubricate and nourish the sinuses; Boerhavia and Lebbek Tree to help detoxify the sinus area; Gotu Kola and Indian Tinospora to support the immune system; and Myrrh, Ginger and Black Pepper to help clear the channels of the sinuses.
Aller-Breathe strengthens resistance to allergens in the upper respiratory tract, opening the tiny passages of the lungs by clearing away toxins. It also bolsters the liver in screening the body's toxins and digestive impurities.
These all-natural herbal formulas can have a dramatic effect. Take the case of Carolyn, who had to miss work every spring when her nose started running and her eyes itched without relief. Worse, her problem with spring allergens seemed to be extending into the summer and fall seasons.
"I took a standard allergy medication but it made me so sleepy that I could hardly stay awake," she says.
Then Carolyn started taking Aller-Breathe in February, to shore up her immune system before the spring allergen season hit. She also adjusted her diet.
In her own words, the result was nothing short of miraculous. "When May and June rolled around my nose had stopped running, my eyes were no longer itching and I didn't have to stop working for two weeks like I did before. Thanks to Aller-Breathe, which is all-natural, I could enjoy the beautiful spring weather without any harmful side effects from the pollens or medications."
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.