What does Ayurveda say about Allergies?
Written and Researched by Dr V.D Singh
The immune system is the defence mechanism of your body against certain bacteria, viruses etc. which may harm you. But sometimes when this defense mechanism starts fighting with the substances with which it shouldn’t, the condition is called Allergy. Such substances, found in dust mites, animal dander, pollen, insects, ticks, moulds, foods, some medicines etc., are called allergens and are completely harmless for most people.
An allergic reaction begins when an allergen (for example pollen) enters the body of a person, who is allergic to that particular allergen and triggers the release of antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to special cells, called mast cells. When this allergen (pollen) comes into contact with the antibodies, the mast cells respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals.
Allergy may be atopic (inherited) or acquired. The allergens may hit your eyes, nose, sinus, skin, stomach, bowels, lungs etc and may cause conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, urticaria (hives), eczema, allergic asthma, etc and sometimes may result into anaphylaxis – a serious situation which may put your body into shock.
Antihistamines, intranasal corticosteroid nasal sprays etc may provide the symptomatic relief but the episodes may recur once you get exposed to that particular allergen again.
Allergy and Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, Allergy is described as Asatmya. Asatmya literally means Intolerance or Incompatibility or Unsuitability.
In other words, Asatmya is that “which doesn’t suit the self” and ‘self’ here includes mind, body and soul. Pathophysiologically, Allergy is a condition in which either of the doshas ( Vata, Pitta & Kapha), individually or in unison, refuses to accept and adjust with some specific change in diet or environment and as a result, react against the causative factor.
Apart from doshas, misbalanced Agni (Digestive Fire) and hence produced ama (toxins) play a pivotal role in allergic reactions.
The Ayurvedic treatment puts emphasis on clinical observations of signs and symptoms of Allergy. The first line of treatment being Nidan Parivarjanam – to avoid the cause.
The causative factors may include any of the substances discussed above. However it is not always possible to evade the cause and sometimes even the patient himself is not aware of the allergen; hence, an all-inclusive Ayurvedic treatment is required.
It includes Shamana Chikitsa (Palliative treatment), and once the acute symptoms subside, Shodhana Chikitsa (Detoxification program or Panchakarma) is done to avoid the recurrence.
By and large Ashwagandha, Shatawari and Yashtimadhu are good herbal antihistamines for Vata, Pitta and Kapha type of Allergy respectively but Ayurveda believes in individualized approach towards a patient and disease.
Seasons and Allergy
There are certain seasonal allergies which are described as per Ayurveda those are further connected to the state or changes in the season regimen of the earth at that time, means according to the rituachrya.
Ayurveda further states that season trigger allergies due to ‘doshas’ that are involved. To find a treatment, it is important to determine the aggravated ‘dosha’.
Vata types of allergies are caused due to dryness. Symptoms includes dry cough with dry phlegm, insomnia and anxiety. It gets worse in dry or windy environments and also during autumn.
Pitta type allergies cause excessive heating such as burning eyes, rashes and loose stools. The condition usually worsens during summers.
Kapha allergies develop due to moist, humid conditions and worsen during spring time as the weather warms up. It shows up as cloudy or clear mucus production and slow digestion. You should follow a liquid diet of liquefied fruits and vegetables once a week.
For curing allergies with Ayurveda, we must focus on cleansing the body off the toxins and boosting the immune system. If the allergies last all year long, it is advisable to visit an ayurvedic practitioner for proper guidance and diet plan.
How to Cure Allergies with Ayurveda
- We must avoid heavy foods such as dairy, meats and nuts.
- We should do hearty lunch and opt for a very light dinner.
- Drinking plenty of warm water would be much relaxing.
- Exercising daily.
- Yoga breathing exercise would be good for relaxing the mind and body.
- Allergies are worsened with intense stress. Stress causes disturbance in sleep which in turn aggravates the allergy. One must get adequate sleep to avoid allergies.
- Applying Herbal oil massage enhances blood circulation in the body. This leads to the removal of chemical toxins which might be causing the allergy.
Hence Ayurveda can better deal with the Allergies and we must adhere it according to seasonal regimen, food and taste and for better results one must consult an Ayurveda consultant for complete relief from Allergy.
By Dr V D Singh MD (Ay)