Allergy in Ayurveda
Our immune system is a complex and wonderful system. When in balance, it does a seamless job of identifying and eliminating potential threats to our health, such as toxins, bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. However, sometimes our immune system responds too vigorously to a substance in the environment that is usually harmless, such as pollen, animal dander, or mold. An exaggerated immune response can lead to symptoms in the lungs (asthma) and skin (hives, eczema).
Allergies affect a large percentage of the population at one time or another and can significantly limit activity. Although the body can mount allergic responses to many things, including food, medicines, and other foreign material, in this article we will discuss the common phenomenon of environmental or seasonal allergies.
From an Ayurvedic perspective,
The strength of the individual’s digestive fire, or inner resilience (known as agni), and a person’s current state of balance/imbalance in the doshas.
There are technique and methods in Ayurevda where we can help in mitigation of the doshas and reduce or vanish the allergic phenomenon completely.
One breathing technique that is useful for strengthening agni is ujjayi, or ocean’s breath. Ujjayi (pronounced oo-jai) is an ancient yogic breathing technique that helps calm the mind and body. Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system and releases feelings of irritation and frustration.
Here is how to perform ujjayi breath:
- Take an inhalation that is slightly deeper than normal. With your mouth closed, exhale through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly, you should sound like Darth Vader from Star Wars.
- You can also get the hang of this practice by practicing exhaling the sound haaaaah with your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the inflow breath, gently constricting your throat as you inhale.
Another important way to strengthen agni is to eliminate ama, which is a Sanskrit word for toxicity. Ama includes both physical and emotional toxicity that accumulates in our physiology and can interfere with our natural healing. One herb that is helpful in treating allergies by cleansing ama is triphala.
One major cause of allergies is heredity. According to western medicine, when a person has one parent with allergies, they become 30% more likely to also have them. If both parents have allergies, the risk increases to 60%. This in Ayurveda can be labeled as a “kavaigunya”, or a weak space in the body. Due to one’s genetics, this weak space will make an individual more susceptible to an allergy, especially during times of stress and imbalance. Luckily, with the proper knowledge and precautions, one may steer away from allergies, even when hereditary influences are strong.
Another detrimental factor in allergies is the digestive strength of an individual. When the digestive fire or “agni” becomes weak, food is not able to be broken down and absorbed properly. This results in a toxic build-up known as “ama” manifesting in the body. This toxic sludge begins to clog the channels of the body, causing heaviness, stagnation, mucus, a slow metabolism and lowered immunity. The cycle then continues its downward spiral, as the fire gets weaker due to the toxic build-up, which then results in more toxins. This may be one reason why an allergy may worsen throughout one’s life.
The third major cause in the manifestation of allergies, is one’s current state of balance and stress level. It is fairly well known that stress is the number one influence of most, if not all disorders. When stress is high, immunity becomes low. Sleep may become disrupted, further weakening the system and increasing stress levels in the body. Hormone levels become imbalanced and systemic dysregulation results. If one is already susceptible to an allergen, times of high stress will most likely set them off or worsen the reaction. This may be why one year you remained allergy free, but the following year an allergy came back worse than ever.
- Sheetapitta is a condition caused due to vitiation of all the three doshas predominantly vata and kapha dosha.In the combination with pitta they create redness, swelling and itching on the skin. This also creates an imbalance in the rasa(lymph) and rakta(blood) dhatu.
- Season changes, Dust & Pollens, Food allergies, Anxieties, Tension, Sleep disturbances, Agni weakness, Sedentary lifestyle, drug reactions, Smoking, Pet allergies can be a few factors which causes this type of allergy to trigger.
Depends on the proper diagnosis, which dosha is involved, what is the prakriti of patient, how much mitigation of dosha is there would help in proper diagnosis and the management plan.
Some ayurvedic herbs like Curcumin, Triphla, Mukta, neem, etc. can help but should not be taken without medical cconsultation and without proper diagnosis of the disease.
In acupuncture LI4, St36 and a few other points in the body are mentioned where proper puncture or pressure an help in reducing the symptoms really fast.