In ayurvedic medicine, allergies are the result of too much cold, heavy, dense kapha in the body. In excess, kapha qualities can cause congestion, mucus, and sneezing and not enough digestive fire, or agni.
The ayurvedic way to begin to treat allergies from dust and seasonal irritants? Improve your digestive fire and incorporate the qualities that are opposite of kapha (warm, light, mobile, and clear) into your routine. Here are seven ayurvedic tips I\’ve used to help calm my seasonal allergies. While it took a few seasons to really see their impact, the time was well worth it for the relief I continue to feel now, several years later.
1. Eliminate cold dairy.
This was a tough one, but dairy has the same properties as excess kapha: It\’s cold, heavy, and dense. I started my ayurvedic journey by completely cutting out cold dairy (think: cheese, ice cream, and milk) and indulging in hot dairy products very infrequently—maybe once every two months.
2. Eat warm, cooked foods.
In ayurveda, when your digestive fire is low, it can\’t access all the nutrition stored in raw foods. The poorly digested food causes toxins to accumulate in the body. Eating warm, cooked foods helps give the digestive fire a chance to rest and recharge.
3. Do an ayurvedic cleanse.
Embarking on an ayurvedic cleanse, or panchakarma, can help get rid of the toxins that are already in the body and reset the digestion. I do a cleanse at least twice a year: Once at an ayurvedic facility, and once at home.
4. Use a neti pot.
A neti pot, or nasal rinse cup, can be helpful to anyone with seasonal allergies. It helps flush out congestion and allergens that irritate the nasal passages and the sinuses. I use one every morning during the spring and fall and at least once or twice a week during the summer and winter.
5. Use Nasya oil.
Nasya is the ayurvedic practice of putting herb-infused oil drops in the nose to lubricate dry nasal passages and keep allergens from irritating the nasal lining. I do it every night before going to bed.
6. Practice pranayama.
Pranayama is a series of breathwork techniques that stem from yogic tradition. Controlling your breathing can help you achieve mental and spiritual calm and free up space in the mind and body. In my 30-minute daily practice, I focus my time on anuloma-viloma, bhastrika, and kapalabhati, but it\’s important to find a breath that feels comfortable to you.
7. Choose the right herbs and spices.
Using warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper in your cooking can help support your digestive fire. Tulsi, pippali, and licorice are also thought to help rejuvenate the respiratory system.
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