According to a medical researcher on the Dr. Oz show, because of the early Spring and prolonged proliferation of windborne pollens, 2012 is supposed to be on track for being one of the worst allergy seasons in recorded history.
Pollen must be sticky in order to adhere to the ovaries of flowers to affect pollination. Unfortunately, this also means that they can adhere to many other things, including the sensitive mucous membranes of the nose, throat and eyes. Whether we react to these as local irritants with symptoms of sneezing, tearing, itchy eyes, and/or scratchy throat depends on a couple of factors. First, our innate constitutional sensitivity based on the Ayurvedic three humours (Kapha, or dampness; Pitta, or heat; and Vata, or dryness) plays a role in how we react to external environmental factors such as pollen. Secondly, the integrity of our immune systems reflects our individual tolerance in terms of how much exposure we can tolerate before we develop any number of allergic reactions.
In this blog, we confine ourselves to the effect of seasonal airborne pollens affecting the upper respiratory system.
Sometimes even experienced medical doctors have trouble distinguishing allergies from colds and flu. The following may help in making the distinction.
|Symptoms:||Symptoms appear in succession: sneezing, runny nose, congestion||Symptoms occur all at once.|
|Duration:||Generally lasts from 7 to 10 days.||Continues for as long as one is exposed to the allergy-causing agent (allergen).|
|Mucus:||Can be thick yellowish as a result of infection.||Usually clear, thin and watery discharge.|
|Sneezing:||Less common than with allergies.||More common than with colds and usually occurs in cycles of 2 or 3 times in succession.|
|Time of year:||More often in the winter.||Common in Spring through Fall while plants are pollinating.|
|Fever:||May have a fever.||Not usually associated with a fever.|
One you’ve made the determination that your symptoms are not due to the common cold or flu you may want to try the following:
Local Bee Pollen
If at all possible try to locate a source of local bee pollen and take one-half to a full teaspoon once a day. This is a very effective way to prevent seasonal allergies by immunizing yourself against local airborne pollens. Very few people have demonstrated a severe adverse reaction and anaphylactic shock to pollen generally and bee pollen in particular. If you know or suspect that you may be allergic, do not ingest bee pollen.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent and treat allergies is the regular morning nasal wash using diluted warm salted water traditionally administered with a neti pot. This clears the accumulated burden of pollens adhering to the nasal mucous membranes that results in paroxysmal sneezing during allergy season. It also washes away germs and viruses that might cause colds and flu.
Mix ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized table salt into a cup of warm water, stirring until it dissolves. Approximately a half cup of the solution is placed into the neti pot which is usually enough to irrigate one nostril. Be sure to dissolve all the salt as any undissolved grains can cause minor irritation.
Begin with one nostril. Tilt your head slightly over the sink or a basin and insert the neti pot spout into the raised nostril. Slowly pour the water into the nostril, allowing it to filter out the opposite lower nostril and into the sink.
After completed, gently blow out the excess water.
Now refilling the neti pot, repeat this same procedure using the other nostril.
Finally, the addition of a pinch of finely powdered herbs to the saline solution for their additional healing benefit can also be employed. For acute sinusitis, one of the best herbs to use is ¼ teaspoon of goldenseal in the neti solution. Goldenseal is a specific tonic and detoxifying agent for the mucous membranes.
In Ayurveda, nasya therapy is the application of oils directly into the nose.
If the nostrils are dry, you can add a few drops of sesame or herbal oil to the neti pot solution to help lubricate the mucus membranes. Or you can first administer the oils directly using an eye dropper before rinsing the nostrils with the neti pot. Anywhere from one to several drops can be placed into each nostril individually and sniffed.
Calamus root powder is commonly used either directly in the neti pot solution or as calamus root oil. This can be purchased or easily made by macerating a teaspoon or two of calamus root powder in warm sesame oil. Heat gently with a low flame for about 45 minutes being sure not to burn the calamus. Allow it to cool and strain through a cloth. Allow this to stand in a small covered container until the clear calamus oil is separated from the settlings at the bottom of the jar. Pour only the clearest oil for us and discard the bottom darker portion. Place into a clean dropper bottle and label.
This does not need to be refrigerated and will last for months. Calamus is one of the best herbs for cleansing and opening the sinuses. It also stimulates the senses, promotes awareness and perception. It is indicated for recovery from stroke to bring back the power of speech and awareness and revive the central nervous system.
For allergies I recommend the regular morning use of calamus oil together with the neti wash.
Itchy, red and irritated eyes is another symptom of allergies. Many over-the-counter and expensive prescription products are on the market for this condition. The herbal world offers just as effective remedies made from triphala and honey.
From ancient times, honey had a special reputation for curing eye disorders. In 350 B.C. Aristotle wrote in section 627a 3 of Historia Animalium that: “White honey . . . is as good as a salve for sore eyes.” Honey is also an effective treatment for infected and inflamed eyes.
Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic formula that combines three medicinal fruits that serve as an all around detoxifying agent and tonic. It is taken internally as safe and effective detoxifying formula. Each of the three fruits of triphala balance each of the three Ayurvedic humours respectively and it is one of the oldest and best of all herbal formulas. Triphala has powerful antioxidant properties.
In India from ancient times to the present triphala and honey were considered a virtual panacea for all eye diseases. On one of several trips to Bangalore in southern India, I visited an Ayurvedic hospital located in the middle of the city. People lined up outside special room with doors that opened onto the street to take the few minutes for a honey and triphala eyewash, administered free of charge.
One of the most effective remedies for eyes irritated by allergies is a simple eyewash made by steeping a teaspoon of powdered triphala in a cup of hot water overnight. In the morning, strain this through a cloth and place in a jar near your sink. Fill a small eyecup (easily purchased at a drugstore) with the filtered triphala tea. Fasten it securely over one eye and tilt your head back allowing the solution to fully bathe the eyeball. This could take anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Be sure to roll your eye around in the solution. Repeat this same procedure with the opposite eye. Gently wipe away the excess fluid with a soft towel afterward. This treatment cleans out the accumulation of irritating pollens that cause the myriad symptoms of eye allergies.
Honey has many beneficial health uses, but is also a very effective remedy for itchy eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly. Lightly dip your little finger onto the top of a jar of honey. Holding your lid open with the opposite hand, lightly tap a drop of honey directly onto the eyeball. At first it will sting slightly and may even cause your eyes to temporarily appear more inflamed. The stinging in this case is powerfully stimulating blood circulation to the eye. Follow with a plain warm water eyewash or the triphala eyewash previously described.
You will find as others who have worked this into their morning routine that all of the allergic sneezing, itchy eyes will be gone and stay gone throughout the entire day.
Performing this triphala bath and honey treatment regularly once to three times daily strengthens your eyesight, prevents and treats a wide number of eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma and retina diseases.
Making Your Own Honey Solution for the Eyes
Boil some water or make triphala tea using a teaspoon of triphala powder per cup of water. Allow it to cool to a moderately warm temperature. If making triphala tea, strain through a clean cloth to remove as much particulate matter from the solution as possible. Dissolve one part of honey to 10 parts of the solution (water or tea). The diluted honey water will work alone without the triphala tea but this is added if it is available.
Honey may sting some people’s eyes but this seems to be an individual matter. Whether it briefly stings or not, however, it will cause no harm. In fact, in some countries such as Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and India, commercial honey drops for the eyes are available.
Healing Secrets of Yoga and Ayurveda by David Frawley (Lotus Press)