Managing Seasonal Allergies Naturally
The emerging spring season brings the beauty of flowers blooming, but also for many, seasonal allergies. By reducing your overall allergenic load, attending to your digestive health [the liver in particular] and attuning to the qualities of spring, you can reduce your sensitivity to the allergens you have little control over, such as pollen. Allergies are an annoyance, and hay fever can be particularly tenacious. Both signal that the body’s immune system is hyper active, attacking normally non toxic substances. It’s not surprising that will so much exposure to pollutants in our environment, household and personal products, and food supply that our bodies are ever more on high alert and overload.
According to Phyllis Balch, “The best and safest way to control allergies is the natural way-by avoiding allergens and taking steps to normalize immune function and prevent or lessen the symptoms. Allergies can usually be controlled if you are willing to make changes in your lifestyle, diet and mental state”. [Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing].
According to traditional systems of healing such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, spring embodies qualities of lightness, expansiveness, and renewal. By attuning to the natural rhythm of spring, we can make gentle changes that lighten the sluggishness of winter and bolster immunity, digestive function, both of which help mitigate allergies. Immune function cannot be discussed separately from digestive health, as the digestive tract is home to over 70% of our immune cells, and is regarded as the root of health.
Spring is the ideal time to cleanse the liver of stagnation and excess, which are associated with anger, irritability, frustration, and aggression, and other expressions of ‘heat’. Typically we eat heavier foods in the winter, and move more slowly, so it makes sense that by spring our liver could use a break. Exchanging meat, dairy, eggs, and fats for lighter fare helps the liver rejuvenate. Liver imbalance can contribute to inflammatory conditions throughout the digestive system including the spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestines, and even the heart.
This is an ideal time to incorporate more raw and sprouted foods into the diet, and employ cooking methods such as steaming, by cooking at higher temperatures for shorter duration. The results are cooling and cleansing to the body. An emphasis on pungent and sweet foods are beneficial, such as complex carbohydrates [grains, legumes, seeds] and cooking herbs such as basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, and bay leaf. In addition to eating seasonally, Paul Pitchford informs us that “Many allergy sufferers find they are no longer sensitive to a food if it appears in their diet no more than once every four days. Others find that allergies to a particular food clear up when the totally abstain from it for six weeks”. [Healing with Whole Foods] Discovering which foods you are allergic to is an important step in reducing inflammation and lightening your overall allergen burden. Embarking on a cleansing program, anti-inflammation or allergy elimination diet is a great way to re-set your system and become more aware of your sensitivities and triggers.
Herbs are an effective way to help the liver and gallbladder gently detoxify, as well as improve overall digestive function. Ginger or peppermint teas are useful for stomach upset, for enhancing digestive function and providing energy. Nettles and dandelion, which are bitter and pungent, are other good antidotes to the sogginess of winter and early spring, helping to clear the debris accumulated. Incorporating probiotics, either through supplementation, fermented foods, or cultured foods, is another great way to help balance the gut. Eyebright, eucalyptus, mullein, and coriander as well as increasing magnesium intake [more raw chocolate, anyone?], may alleviate hay fever symptoms. Burdock and yellow dock can be used specifically to detoxify the liver.
For managing symptoms, try the following :
You can try air purifiers, dehumidifiers in moldy basements, airing out indoors spaces, adding indoor plants, and keeping your space dust free. Pollens are more prevalent when it’s windy, and less so after the rain, and in the morning.
Dry brushing and sauna use can stimulate elimination/detoxification through the skin.
Massage therapy helps boost the immune system, assists detoxification, reduces inflammation, and promotes overall well-being.
Nasal washes with a neti pot can help reduce sinus congestion and keep nasal passages free of pollen, dust and molds.
Many people are allergic food colorings, preservatives, and other marvels of modern food processing. be particularly careful to read labels if you experience allergies, seasonal or otherwise.
To skillfully implement any of these recommendations to suit your individual needs and unique constitution, it is advised that you seek care from a qualified health professional.
Jamie Smith is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist. She can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org and on the web @ www.reclaimingpdx.com.