Spring is a time for rebirth, renewal, sunshine, dewdrops, and the promise of sunny days. It can also be a time of intense allergies, congestion, and sluggishness.
During winter we sleep more, eat heavier foods, and take time to snuggle in for some alone time. In the spring we want to begin to balance this out by eating lighter and drier foods, waking earlier as the sun rises earlier, and beginning to spread our social wings.
According to Ayurvedic principles, allergies stem from all the kapha we accumulate over the winter accumulating in our body. We need the kapha accumulation in the winter to keep us warm, hydrated, and nourished. In the spring, this accumulation can lead to colds, allergies, and a general feeling of sluggishness.
Three types of allergies can trigger these unpleasant reactions: food allergies, airborne allergies, and contact allergies. This means the body senses something foreign and sends cells to attack kicking the immune system into overdrive. According to Ayurveda, some primary causes of allergies are genetics; weak agni, or digestive fire; a person’s current state of wellness, or imbalance; and/or the presence of ama, undigested or poorly digested food that turns toxic and interferes with processes in the body.
As we enter spring, this is the perfect time to begin cleansing all the heavy, dense, watery qualities we accumulated over winter from eating foods to keep us nourished and warm. If we don’t take care to balance out these qualities our spring will be blurry and full of sneezes instead of taking in the aroma of new life beginning to bloom.
Seasonal allergies effect many people every spring. If you are one of those people, Ayurveda can help! Here are a few simple things you can do to help prevent allergies from starting this spring.
- Reduce or Eliminate Cold Foods and Drinks
Cold foods and drinks aggravate kapha and can lead to more congestion and reduction in the body’s ability to fight allergens.
- Eat Warm and Cooked Foods
Our digestive capability in the spring is not very strong. Having warm and cooked foods help our digestion break down our foods better so we able to better assimilate nutrients from the foods we consume.
- Drink Ginger Tea
Drink ginger tea 30 minutes before a meal and/or throughout the day to bolster digestion.
- Pranayama Practices
Breathing techniques like ujjayi and kapalabhati are great for invigorating the body, stimulating the mind, and clearing the airways for easier breathing.
- Exercise Daily
Move your body for at least 20 minutes every day. This does not have to be vigorous movement such as a walk, living room dance party, charades, etc. Or, move your body vigorously for 30 minutes 3-4 times each week.
- Neti Pot
The neti pot (pronounced naytee) is a great tool to help clear congestion in the nasal sinuses. If done before seasonal allergies kick in, it will help the cilia of the nose be more prepared to defend against allergens. This is also a wonderful tool to reduce symptoms of a cold if used early enough, but don’t use it after you have a cold or the symptoms will worsen.
- Dry Brushing
Gently exfoliating the skin, dry brushing is a wonderful way to move the lymph which can help boost immunity to fight against seasonal allergies and colds.
- Eat dry, bitter, astringent, and pungent foods
Allergies stuff everything up with sticky, gooey stuff, so eating similarly like cheese, bananas, etc, will worsen the symptoms. Adding foods to your diet like dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, etc), dandelion greens, pomegranates, green beans, chickpeas, onions, ginger, garlic, chilies, and green tea will help dry out some of the mucous.
- Seasonal Cleanse
According to Ayurveda, one of the reasons allergies hit us is because our immune system doesn’t have the capacity fight off allergens. One cause of this is a weak digestive system so the body is having to put too many physiological resources into digesting food. Giving the digestive system a break by consuming an easy to digest meal for several days, called a mono diet, can help rekindle the digestive fire so the body can focus on more important things. (Join me for the annual cleanse March 15-19.)