Spring is approaching ... With the beginning of the new season many changes are taking place in nature. Are you already looking forward to flowering meadows and sweet scents or are you horrified at the thought of contact with nature, Pollen & Co., because you are allergic and fear hay fever, watery and itchy eyes, swollen mucous membranes or even shortness of breath and bronchitis? One in three people are affected by an allergy in the course of their life – in mild or severe form.
What is actually an allergy from an ayurvedic point of view, how does it develop, and why do some people react defensively to harmless exogenous substances such as pollen or animal hair – and others do not? What does Ayurveda recommend for prevention and what can those affected do? We have discussed these and other questions concerning Ayurveda and allergies with the Indian vaidya Dr. Saurabh Sharma.
What is the ayurvedic opinion on allergies?
As early as in one of the ancient basic texts of Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, allergic symptoms are described in detail. Pollen allergies occur in spring and early summer, when Kapha predominates in nature. At the same time, allergies such as hay fever, pollen allergy and allergy-related asthmatic bronchitis are Kapha symptoms, which means we have an excess of Kapha in the body.
Ayurveda does not regard allergy as a disease but as a physical reaction to a foreign particle.
To explain it simply and graphically: If, for example, we eat fresh, cooked food, it is optimally processed by the organism – provided that our gastrointestinal tract is healthy – and nourishes the various body tissues (dhatus). But if we eat leftovers or things that were already prepared two days ago or already contain undetected light mould, what does our body do then? It eliminates it naturally, it does not retain anything harmful. We get diarrhoea or we vomit.
The same applies to allergies. When a foreign particle that is not compatible with our body, for example a bacterium or an allergen, enters our system, our body reacts to it and wants to repel it. We start sniffing and coughing.
But why does this affect only some people and not all?
What are the differences between people who suffer from allergies and those who don't?
Ayurveda explains it by saying that in people who are not affected, "Ojas" (the finest metabolic product) strengthens resistance and immunity and protects the body. "Ojas" is formed when we digest food optimally. Healthy Ojas protects the body and strengthens the immune system.
Allergies are usually accompanied by a weakened digestive fire, which disturbs the formation of Ojas. Waste and toxins (Ama) accumulate. In the next stage they begin to flow through the body channels and can block or even inflame them. In the case of an allergy this can manifest in itching, accumulation of mucus, drowsiness, tiredness and irritability.
As an important measure Ayurveda primarily emphasizes the restoration of "Agni" or a healthy digestive and metabolic energy.
What can we do to strengthen our defense mechanism?
Ayurveda recommends a good daily and seasonal routine, i.e. going to bed early; getting up early; morning oil massage of the scalp and body; high quality food (organic); a warm, light breakfast; a warm, nutritious main meal at noon; an early, light dinner (preferably also warm). It is always best to eat in peace and quiet.
Regular exercise is also important and clothing adapted to the season.
Try the hot water drinking cure to support natural elimination processes.
Many more tips can be found on our website, for example
- for a successful start into the day
- for ayurvedic oral hygiene
- for nutrition in Ayurveda
- nutrition and daily routine at the beginning of spring
An ayurvedic cleansing cure (Panchakarma) is highly valuable in the presence of accumulated metabolic waste products.
As a measure at home you should regularly give the digestive system some time off before or at the beginning of the Kapha season, i.e. in February/March, to strengthen the digestive power and to drain "Ama". For example, once a week you should take a "Liquid Day" – a day on which you only consume (warm) drinks and liquid food and also reduce animal protein. Here you can learn more about "fasting" in Ayurveda and the Liquid Day.
In general, to prevent allergies you should eat food that strengthens your digestive system, eliminates Ama and prevents the formation of new metabolic waste products (see note). Warming spices also play an important role here.
If you are already affected, regular facial steam baths with turmeric are good (1 teaspoon turmeric powder in a bowl of hot water, inhaling the steam for a few minutes).
Our special tip
Dr. Saurabh Sharma has given us his personal "insider tip" for our readers:
Twice a day, after meals, pour the mixture into a glass container and stir 1/3 teaspoon into a lassi drink (1 part fresh organic yoghurt, 2 parts water) or warm water.
In Ayurveda, lassi is regarded as "Agni"-strengthening.
Our special tip - Try our special lassi recipes:
We wish you a good, healthy start into the Kapha and pollen season which is about to begin.
Your Maharishi Ayurveda Team