Sneeze-Free, Naturally

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

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

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

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.

Drink hot water. Fill a thermos with hot water
as your day begins. Carry this with you and sip an ounce or two of
hot water every 30 minutes all day, between meals, to loosen and
cleanse ama.

Lighten up. Steer clear of heavy foods: dairy,
wheat, and rich, cold dishes (yes, that means ice cream). Rely
mainly on freshly cooked, prana-filled fruits and
vegetables, which are nourishing yet easy to digest.

Eat lunch. Enjoy the most substantial meal of
the day at noon, when digestion is strongest; keep dinner

Avoid toxins. Reduce your exposure to chemical
preservatives, household cleaners, and pesticides to avoid
introducing excess toxins into your body.

Take a remedy. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of
trikatu (an Ayurvedic formula of three dried peppers) with
a teaspoon of honey. In the morning, eat this mixture, followed by
sips of hot water.

Clear the nose. Use a neti pot daily
to rinse irritants from your nasal passages. Fill the pot with warm
water and stir in a pinch of salt until it’s completely dissolved.
With your left hand, bring the spout into your left nostril, lean
over a sink, and tilt your head to the right, tipping the pot up
gently to start the flow. Continue for up to 30 seconds, breathing
through your mouth. Repeat on the other nostril.

Niika Quistgard-DeVivo is a clinical Ayurvedic specialist
practicing in New Jersey. Reprinted from
Yoga Journal
(March/April 2005). Subscriptions: $15.95/yr. (6 issues) from
475 Sansome St., Suite 850, San Francisco, CA 94111;

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