How Maharishi Ayurveda Recommends Dealing with Allergens
Ayurveda attributes seasonal allergen reactions to imbalances in the physiology caused by a reactive type of digestive toxin called amavisha. Ama, the simpler initial form of digestive impurities, is created because of imperfect digestion. If the accumulation of ama in the digestive tract is not corrected, the ama eventually travels to different organs or tissues in the body and over time gets transformed into the more reactive amavisha.
Allergens such as dust or pollen interact with the amavisha, creating an allergen reaction. It is the reactive nature of amavisha that causes allergen reactions. Wherever they interact and interfere, these toxins make it hard for the cells to function properly in that part of the body.
Signs of amavisha vary, depending on where in the body the amavisha is located. If the amavisha/allergen combination affects the skin, the result could be rashes, discoloration, roughness or irritation. The same mixture in the lungs is linked to respiratory issues. Amavisha/allergens in the intestinal tract cause GI tract disturbances.
But it's important to understand that it's not the allergens themselves that are causing the reaction. Many other people breathe the same pollen, the same ragweed, and they have no reaction whatsoever. It's the presence of amavisha in the physiology that makes the allergens create such a reaction.
Amavisha has an additional, more long-term effect: it disrupts the natural balance of the immune system. When the immune system is affected by the accumulation of amavisha, it loses its adaptability — its ability to regain equilibrium when confronted with sudden change.
For instance, when spring begins, and new plants bloom and release pollen, or the weather shifts between hot and cold or humid and dry, these dramatic changes in the environment challenge the immune system. In normal circumstances, the person can adapt.
But if the immune system is already taxed by the presence of amavisha, and therefore can't respond to seasonal change with normal flexibility, the body succumbs to imbalance, and starts to express allergen reactions.
Detoxifying to correct the imbalance
In ayurveda we have a principle: detoxify the body at the end of each season, before the new season begins. This is recommended because the weather and environment during one season will impact the body and create certain imbalances, causing the body to accumulate ama or amavisha. You need to flush out those toxins before the next season starts, in order to prepare the body to confront the changes it will be facing.
Another reason for seasonal detoxification is to cleanse the shrotas, the microchannels that carry nutrient fluid to the cells and carry waste products away from the cells. If the shrotas are clogged with toxins, then the immune system is slowed down.
Detoxification is especially important if you are prone to allergen reactions. Starting a detoxification program just before the onset of spring will help to rid your body of impurities that have accumulated during winter.
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. Also avoid leftovers as well as 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 lead to the formation of amavisha.
Instead, eat a light, nourishing diet of cooked, lightly-spiced organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and dhal soups for protein.
Sip hot water throughout the day to help eliminate toxins. Get plenty of rest and enjoy mild exercise such as walking every day.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends the Maharishi Ayurveda herbal supplements Elim-Tox or Elim-Tox-O for cleansing the liver of toxins. These formulas also help remove toxins through the sweat, the blood, the urine and bowels. For detoxifying the body, it's also essential that your elimination is working well. Make sure you have one or two bowel movements a day, with one in the morning when you rise. To help regularity, take 2-4 Herbal Cleanse capsules or 3-5 Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) tablets before bed.
Dietary tips for spring
Once spring starts, follow the seasonal diet recommended for that season, taking into account your body type and individual needs for balance. 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. But spring allergens also have to do with the reactivity of amavisha, so you'll want to pacify Pitta, too, especially if you are a Pitta type. This means going easy on the pungent spices. Avoid chilies and cayenne, but mildly pungent spices such as ginger and black pepper are fine in small quantities.
To continue to detoxify your body during the allergen season, eat lots of green vegetables and summer squashes, such as zucchini or lauki. These are cooling and pacify the reactivity of amavisha. Hard winter squashes such as pumpkin and butternut squash, on the other hand, are not recommended, as they are more difficult to digest.
Spice your food with the following spice mixture. These spices are powerful in dealing with allergens. Turmeric helps directly in coping with allergens; coriander helps cellular detoxification; fennel is cooling and neutralizing; ginger is anti-ama and cleanses the channels; and black pepper cleanses the channels, promoting the bioavailability of food and nutrients.
Aller-Defense: The holistic solution
In spring, take Aller-Defense to simultaneously remove toxins from your body while supporting your immunity. These tablets also support the body's healthy response to allergens, promote digestion, cleanse the microcirculatory channels (shrotas) and help with any sensitivity to allergens by nourishing and purifying the liver.
Aller-Defense contains Turmeric, Albizzia Lebbeck and Holy Basil to balance the body's response to allergens. Heart-leaved Moonseed (Indian Tinospora), Turpeth (Indian Jalap), Chebulic Myrobalan (Haritaki) and Picrorhiza Kurroa help the body eliminate both internal toxins and external irritants. Dried Ginger, Long Pepper, Black Pepper, and Nut grass (Cyperus) are Yogavahi herbs, which means that they increase the bioavailability of the other herbs in the formula. Abhrak Bhasma is revered in ayurveda as a rejuvenative.
Whenever you're sick, your doctor tells you to get lots of rest. This is because rest helps support a challenged immune system. During allergen season, your immune system needs to be strong. So make sure that 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 go to bed late and get up late, as this kind of schedule throws the body's natural rhythms out of balance and ends up causing clogged channels and taxing 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 natural tendency to cleanse and purify itself between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.
Research shows that the Transcendental Meditation® technique, which takes only twenty minutes twice a day to practice but provides deeper rest than sleep, supports the immune system and dramatically reduces stress. Studies indicate that allergen reactions and other immune-related issues improve significantly after subjects start the practice of meditation. Meditation is a central part of the daily routine and is mentioned prominently in the ancient ayurvedic texts.
By following an appropriate diet and routine, by taking herbs to maintain the health and strength of your immune system, and by detoxifying before spring begins in your part of the country, you can really enjoy spring while building long-term health.
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.