Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, presents with the signs and symptoms of a cold, e.g. a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. The condition is caused by an allergic response to outdoor and/or indoor allergens, e.g. pollen, dust mites, flecks of skin/saliva shed by cats, dogs, and/or the fur or feathers of other animals (pet dander).
Allergies are an abnormal (over-reactive) immune system response to things (allergens) that are normally harmless to most people. When an individual is allergic to something, the immune system mistakenly believes that this substance is causing harm to the body.
Allergies occurs when person is exposed to an allergen. The first time, they do not usually experience a reaction, but over time the immune system to builds up a sensitivity to the substance and learns to recognize and remember the allergen. As such, it makes antibodies to attack the substance when exposure occurs, which is referred to as sensitisation. In addition, ongoing allergy symptoms tend to cause congestion, allowing viruses or bacteria to get stuck in the upper respiratory tract, leading to respirator and sinus infections.
Hay fever signs and symptoms can include:
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
- Swollen, blue-coloured skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
- Postnasal drip
Hay fever signs/symptoms can commence or worsen at a particular time of year. Triggers can include:
- Tree pollen (common in early spring)
- Grass pollen (common in late spring and summer)
- Dust mites, cockroaches and dander from pets (symptoms might worsen in winter, when houses are closed up)
- Spores from indoor and outdoor fungi and moulds (seasonal and perennial).
Risk factors for the condition include: a blood relative with hay fever or asthma, have eczema, live/work in an environment where exposure to allergens is constant, and a mother who smoked during first year of life.
Treatments include avoidance of allergens, decongestants, antihistamines, nasal/oral corticosteroids, medications to relieve symptoms, immunotherapy, and sinus rinsing.
Ayurvedic Approach to Hay fever (Asatyma):
According to classical Ayurvedic texts, hay fever is the result of weak or imbalanced Agni (digestive fire), leading to toxins in the body and subsequent low immunity.
Causes of the above include: poor dietary practices, poor food combining, eating before previous meal is digested, strenuous exercise after eating, physical and mental strain and stress, environmental changes, strong emotions (such as anger, fear, anxiety) and chronic diseases.
Ayurveda also recognises that hay fever can manifest as a Dosha dominant condition:
Vata dominant allergy symptoms: Sneezing, headache, insomnia, anxiety, dryness of mouth and/or throat
Pitta dominant allergy symptoms: Thirst, yellow nasal discharge, shooting type of temperature, burning eyes, skin rashes, inflammation
Kapha dominant allergy symptoms: Whitish sputum, heaviness and dullness in the body, runny nose, itchiness dull headache associated with sinus congestion, dull/low appetite, heaviness and lethargy
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR HAYFEVER:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, licorice
Vata Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, pippali, black pepper
Pitta Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, licorice
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, vasaka, khadira
Kapha Vata Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, pipplai, black pepper
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Guduchi, turmeric, triphala, amalaki, tulsi, fresh ginger, coriander, vasaka, khadira
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Hay fever:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Panchakarma detox treatments (when deemed appropriate)
- Avoid causative factors
- Balance Jataragni (digestive fire) and digestion
- Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract/body)
- Balance doshic imbalances through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Intake of clean wholefoods, with organic food as much as possible
- Build immunity
- Nasya therapy as required
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Hay fever:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should eat at regular times/intervals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods.
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks, high fat foods, greasy foods. Minimise the intake of sour and hot chilli type foods.
- Avoid excessive consumption of bread, pasta, pizza, cheese, milk and other foods that aggravate excess phlegm and congestion.
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal, and eat only if hungry.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- A small amount of buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat 2-3 fruits per day. Avoid watery fruits.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Within the scope of specific food allergens that one do not react to, eat as much Ojas/immune
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Savour the food that you are eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
- Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Hay fever:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Use oil heater during cooler months to keep bedroom warm during night. Do not use fan heating.
- Use a humidifier in her room. Use steam vaporiser as regularly as needed.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Avoid contact with all allergens and be sure to wear protective clothing as needed.
- Avoid large and sudden changes in weather and temperature.
- Make sure to be well rugged up in winter, especially when going outside.
- Avoid contact with all allergens. Wear protective clothing as needed.
- Avoid large and sudden changes in temperature.
- Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.