Nature is awakening after a winter sleep; blossoming and spreading its beauty around, filling us with new energy and making us feel alive again. For some of us however, it can have not such a positive effect.
The UK weather forecasters splits the pollen season into three main sections:
• Tree pollen – late March to mid-May
• Grass pollen – mid-may to July
• Weed pollen – end of June to September
So depending on what your body is sensitive to, it can effect different people at different times. When this occurrs, pollen enter the body and create an allergic reaction by irritating the lining of the nasal passages. This happens when your immune system reacts in a hypersensitive way to the irritant, seeing it as a threat and trying to remove it from the body. Chemicals, such as histamine, is released to fight what seems to be an infection hence the coughing, sneezing and wheezing etc.
Hay fever in ayurvedic medicine is seen as Pitta-Kapha (fire/earth) imbalance. The main approach in treating it is to get rid of the toxins in the body, strengthen the immune system and balance digestive fire called Agni.
Here are some useful tips to help you fight hay fever, naturally:
• Concentrate on simple, light and easy to digest foods that don’t block your digestive system. As a general rule try to stay away from excessively heavy and fermented dairy, sweets, yeast and meat especially during the morning and evening time when your inner fire is less strong. Warm/hot, well spiced liquids are the most desirable as they melt down unwanted toxins, add an extra pinch of black pepper, turmeric or ginger into your soup.
• Combining dairy with meat, fish or fruit contributes to toxin accumulation. Make sure you eat them separately, at least an hour apart.
• Steam your leafy greens, carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, adding some quinoa, couscous, barley or buckwheat spiced with coriander, basil, thyme, rosemary or pepper.
• As well as the above herbs there are some more specific and targeted plants that treat hay fever effectively such as Pippali, Turmeric, Tulsi, Triphala. Pippali is the most effective immune boosters and detoxifier. Turmeric has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and taken on a regular basis helps to prevent hay fever. Tulsi is an ideal herb for respiratory system, effectively reducing fever, and strengthening immunity. Triphala regulates digestion and beautifully cleanses the body from toxins. Make sure you consult an ayurvedic practitioner before taking any of them so the correct combination can be prescribed to you as an individual.
• 1-2 teaspoons of chyawanprash, an ayurvedic herbal jam, followed by ginger and lemon tea will make you feel more awake, strong and decongested.
• A neti pot cleansing with some mild salt water, done first thing in the morning, is a great way to keep your nose, sinuses and throat clean by rinsing out stuck dust and pollen. If you prefer to receive a professional treatment go for Nasya, an excellent way of cleansing your sinuses from mucus.
• Abdominal massage will help to get rid of the accumulated toxins in the digestive track and stimulate the inner fire.
• Lastly practice regular sun salutations and energising breathing such as Bhastrika, or more commonly called breath of fire.