Spring Allergies, 3/ 14/ 13, written for the Mt. Baker Community News
Look outside- plants are growing and yang energy is rising. Many welcome the spring winds’ clearing of winter clouds and stagnation. Yet for others the sweetness of spring is marred by hay fever. In this article I will share advice for managing spring allergies naturally. Some people need help from a health care professional. For you DIYers I hope these words inspire you to learn more and take control of your health.
Why does the body get hay fever? Allergies are an autoimmune disorder- the body reacts to a benign stimulus (the allergen i.e. pollen) as if it were a pathogen, activating an immune response. Anti-histamines block this response. One theory of why allergies are on the rise is that the combined effects of increased contaminants in our environment, water, and food plus the constant stress of modern life can overload our immune system.
One approach is therefore to reduce the amount of inflammatory substances in our (inner) environment by managing our diet. Individual people need individual solutions, so experiment. Try removing specific substances from your diet for 2-4 weeks and see how you feel (it takes a few weeks to integrate dietary therapy). Common culprits include dairy (especially milk), gluten, nuts, and other foods that we hear about being “inflammatory.” Processed foods can contain substances that our digestive system doesn’t recognize and may cause an inflammatory response. Opinions aside, this approach does work in some cases. Remember that humans change. If you address the inflammation and restore systemic balance now, you may be able to return these foods to your diet later without problems.
Another approach is using food as remedy. Some foods are clearing in nature: radish, bamboo shoot, pear, apple, celery, cabbage, carrot, dandelion, and greens in general. Eat these foods regularly during allergy season. Clearing foods are especially appropriate in cases with itchy, red eyes and a sensation of heat. In cases of general deficiency, adding ginger, black pepper, honey, and alliums can help provide immune support. There are also many herbal formulas that address allergies without harming the liver or kidneys. And even if you don’t cut them out completely, reduce dairy, meat, and rich, greasy foods- they create internal dampness, which exacerbates allergies.
Lastly, exercise is important for preventing stagnation, and sweat helps clear toxins and heat from the body. Hygiene is also important. Clean your face (and hands) regularly and clean your living spaces, especially the carpets, as dust and pollen accumulate there.