Sneeze-Free, Naturally

Ayurvedic remedies to stave off the sniffles


| July / August 2005


You'd love to stop and smell the roses, but every time you do, your allergies kick in, reducing you to a sneezing, sniffling, congested mess. And every spring your pile of used tissues grows faster than the daffodils out your window. If this sounds familiar, maybe it's time to tackle your allergies using an Ayurvedic approach.

Ayurvedic theory maintains that although pollen, dust, dander, and other allergens trigger symptoms in susceptible people, they are not the primary cause of allergies. Instead, it's the accumulation of ama (Sanskrit for 'that which harms or weakens') that's the main problem.

Ama is the sticky, toxic residue that comes from a less-than-ideal diet coupled with inadequate digestion. If you've ever put wet wood onto a fire that's not blazing, you know that smoke and charred waste are the result. In the same way, when your digestive fire is low or unsteady, or you eat foods that demand more digestive power than you possess, a kind of half-baked gunk -- ama -- is created, and the trouble begins. Over time, ama moves beyond the digestive tract via the circulatory system, settling in bodily tissues and clogging internal pathways.In an effort to protect the body from this poisonous plight, the immune system kicks into high gear. As the toxic load increases, it becomes hypervigilant and overly defensive, violently attacking even harmless substances like pollen, causing pointless symptoms and potentially weakening its ability to fight a real foe.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, every allergy sufferer is different, and practitioners tailor treatment to address the whole person. Typically, though, Ayurvedic allergy treatment emphasizes four steps: boost the digestive fire, adjust the diet to support a 'clean burn,' detoxify, and restore the strength of the immune system.

Here are several Ayurvedic tips to boost digestive fire and cleanse away ama:

Increase circulation. Try a dry-brush massage before your morning shower and a vigorous round of sun salutations before breakfast.