Allergies occur when a hypersensitive immune system reacts to a common or unusual substance. In some people it is hereditary, but one can also develop an allergy at any time in his or her life. Any substance, whatever its origin, is a possible allergen. Foods, chemicals in foods, medicines, and environmental factors, including pollen, parasites, dust, animal hair, and chemical toxins, for example, can all cause allergic reactions almost anywhere in the body.
Ayurveda sees ama (toxins) and low immunity as the primary causes of most allergies. Ama can settle at the digestive level or in the various tissues, with different symptoms at each level. Ama toxicity aggravates blood and Pitta, or it can aggravate Kapha, with different symptoms.
Most of us are familiar with the symptoms of hay fever, or seasonal allergies, whether we have them ourselves or know someone else who does have- runny nose, sneezing, itching eyes, scratchy throat, and itching, swelling, or hives on the skin. Often, people seem to have a cold. With more severe reactions, one might suffer from asthma and other breathing difficulties, aches and pain, gastrointestinal reactions (for example, diarrhea), or rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Seasonal allergies can occur anytime, but they occur most often during spring and early summer, when plants and trees are flowering and producing pollens, the most common allergens. Seasonal allergies are also fairly common in the fall - many people are sensitive to the molds produced by decaying leaves and other plants. Animal feathers, hairs and dust cause similar symptoms.
Ayurveda sees hay fever as a Kapha-Pitta disorder; however, people with a Vata constitution suffer most from it, because it is also due to immune disorder and hypersensitivity of the nervous system:
Symptoms & Dosha predominance-
* Vata aggravation often produces headache, insomnia, and anxiety.
* Pitta aggravation produces yellow nasal discharge, feverish feeling, burning eyes, and skin rashes.
* Kapha aggravation produces whitish sputum and heaviness and dullness in the body. If the sinuses are congested, there may be a dull headache around the region of sinuses.
[A] Home Therapies
In all cases, nasal medication is recommended for controlling and preventing seasonal allergies. Use medicated sesame oil made with licorice, agaru (aquilaria agallocha), bilva (aegle marmalos), kantakari (solanum xanthocarpum), lotus, and nutgrass. Then put one drop in each nostril at bedtime. Use this for 4 weeks.
Medicated oil specially prepared for Nasya ' Anu Tail' is very effective.
For Vata & Kapha - Take trikatu (dry ginger, black pepper and long pepper powder in equal amount) 20 mgm.+ basil 250 mgm. + 10 mgm. cloves, camphor, and coriander each. It is advisable to take this mixture 3 times a day with warm water. Start before hay fever season. & take the mixture till the season is over.
Avoid heavy foods, cold drinks, and dairy products (including cheese and yogurt), that increase Kapha and decrease digestive fire. Also, follow diets that rebalance your own pattern of doshic imbalance.
* Follow the " Unit increase/unit decrease "Rasayana treatment described in the section on asthma.
* During an attack with Pitta aggravation, take a tea made with licorice, cardamom, and santalum album. For making tea - take equal proportion of dried herbs + 4 times water. Boil it. Reduce till 1/4th.
For Pitta pacification, bitter herbs & blood cleansing herbs like dandelion, barberry or echinacea should be taken. Take any of these herbs in dose of 1 to 3 gms. a day for 2 weeks.
* Inhale medicated vapor made with water, basil leaves (holy basil, if possible), and eucalyptus oil.
* Do nasya (nasal medication) with coconut oil 2 times a day. Put 2 –3 drops of oil in the nose at bedtime.
* Take 50 mg. of camphor and cloves and 1 gram of basil twice daily for 2 months.
[b] Prepared Medicines
* To ease Kapha aggravation, take 2 tablets of guduchi, three times daily with a tea made from basil, cloves, and camphor for 2 weeks.
[c] From the Ayurvedic Physician
An Ayurvedic physician would recommend medicated therapeutic vomiting to balance Kapha and prevent the recurrence of seasonal allergies.
[d] Yoga and Breath Therapy
It is common for hay fever to start with symptoms that are similar to colds and sinus problems. To prevent symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing and congestion, practice nasal cleansing with water (jala neti) regularly to purify the entire upper respiratory tract and prevent recurrence of allergic attacks. Use a special pot with a spout - a neti pot - available for this purpose, and make nasal cleansing a regular part of your daily hygiene.
Deep breathing or regular practice of [anuloma viloma pranayama] can also prevent attack.
When hay fever allergies are chronic, practice (Kapalabhati) regularly to increase the patient's stamina.
Other common type of Allergy is Allergic Rhinitis