6 Ancient Secrets to Keep Allergies and Colds Away This Spring
It’s that wonderful and frustrating time of year when spring is here, but winter still seems to be lingering on somehow. According to Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine that originated in India thousands of years ago, these times of seasonal transition are when your body needs the most attention and care to keep illness at bay.
Ayurveda is centered around the idea that our universe consists of 5 elements (earth, space, water, fire, and air) that combine to create unique energies in the environment, seasons, foods, and our minds and bodies. These elements come together to produce 3 qualities in the body, also known as doshas. Vata is a combination of air and space, Pitta is a combination of fire and water, and Kapha is a combination of earth and water. Although one dosha normally predominates in the body, all doshas are present in everyone, and their manifestation in the body is heavily influenced by the seasons.
For example, as winter has progressed, you may have noticed that your skin got a little dry and itchy, and that your sinuses felt a little irritated. This happens because on cold, windy, and dry winter days, the air element in the body (vata) gets aggravated, causing these discomforts.
As spring approaches, the cold, light and dry conditions of winter get replaced with cold, dense, and wet weather. This triggers kapha (earth element) in the body, inviting more congestion, colds, and allergies.
Keeping vata in balance during both winter and spring will really pave the way for a smooth transition into spring and keep your immune system strong. This is because, among other things, vata governs the respiratory system. A balanced vata in the chest area will keep your respiratory system strong during allergy season.
Here are 6 ancient secrets that will help you keep away allergies and colds this Spring:Show your nostrils some TLC
Applying oil in the nostrils (nasya) is very beneficial for bringing balance to the air element in the neck and head. This also prevents dryness and irritation of the sinuses. Sesame or almond oil are both good choices for nasya. You can also find specialized nasya oil preparations for allergies, as well as for a whole range of other benefits.Avoid cold food and drink
In Ayurveda, it is believed that “like increases like”. As cold and dry are vata qualities, consuming something that is cold will naturally increase or aggravate vata ( air element) in your body. This is especially true in regards to your throat and head-area during the spring, making your sinuses, nasal passages, and throat more sensitive and prone to irritation. Do your best to avoid chilled drinks, ice cream, smoothies, and cold cereals.Stay away from dry foods
Another quality of vata is dryness. For this reason, you also want to avoid dry foods. Some examples of foods to avoid or limit would include popcorn, crackers, beans, dried fruit, and too many raw fruits and vegetables.Stimulate your digestion
Proper digestion and elimination is particularly important in Ayurveda. When agni or digestive fire is burning strong, it prevents accumulation of toxins and mucus in the body. If you aren’t digesting food properly, the build of up toxins and mucus can lead to illness and allergy symptoms. To prevent this, here are a few tips:
- Have your largest meal around noon when your digestive fire is burning strong.
- If your digestion is a little sluggish, have some grated ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a tiny bit of salt ten minutes before your meal to jumpstart your digestion.
- Drinking ginger tea throughout the day will also help.
- Sit down to eat and focus on your food without distractions (TV, work, music, too much talking). Strive to eat mindfully so that you don’t overeat.
- Stay seated throughout the meal and rest quietly for a few minutes after your meal before getting up.
Oil pulling is a great way to eliminate toxins from the body. Take a tablespoon of organic sesame oil and swish around for 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach (You can start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 15-20 minutes if needed). Spit the oil out into a trash can (down the sink can clog your pipes) and rinse your mouth before drinking or eating to clean out any lingering bacteria or toxins.
For bonus points: try using a tongue scraper after oil pulling to remove additional toxins that have accumulated on the tongue . If you wake up in the morning and see a white coating on your tongue (known as ama) this is an indication that your digestion is off and you are accumulating toxins. Tongue scraping will strengthen your ability to eliminate environmental toxins, pollen, and bacteria.Practice daily massage
Simply massaging your feet or scalp for a few minutes each day will help calm and ground vata, eliminate toxins, and alleviate excess skin dryness. Check out this video on how to give yourself an amazing Ayurvedic foot rub! Another pro-tip: use a body scrub after massaging the skin and then jump in the shower. This will give you an even bigger boost to the lymphatic system and strengthen the immune system further.
Cheers to a Healthy and Happy Spring!