With back-to-school season upon us, and chillier mornings and evenings, it sure is starting to feel like fall in the Midwest. Although the season of fall is lovely, this high vata season can stir lots of things up – including seasonal allergies! This is my first year that any symptoms have shown up for me. My yoga teacher once told me that seasonal allergies can often first appear during your 30s. Considering I’ll turn 31 this Saturday, it appears these allergies of mine have arrived right on time!
I realized after teaching several outdoor classes the past several weeks, that my inner ears and throat would itch considerably the following hours. To self-diagnose, I tried an OTC Claritin and sure enough, relief! Given my passion for managing health holistically first when possible, I decided to do a little research and see what options could relieve my body’s inflammatory response the natural way. There are undoubtedly more holistic options to take, but below are my top (5) ways to manage seasonal allergies.
1. Self massage (abhyanga) with a carrier oil of your choosing and basil essential oil. Given my study and practice of Ayurveda and the time of season, for most people, I’d recommend sesame oil as the carrier oil. Sesame has grounding properties and is a mindful choice during vata season. If you are working with a specific imbalance of pitta or kapha, then I’d recommend coconut or almond oil respectively. I personally have a Vata-Kapha constitution and use both depending on my current state. And now…more about basil essential oil. Allergy symptoms are clear signs the body is experiencing stress, and thereby an inflammatory response, which taxes our immune system. Basil essential oil reduces the inflammatory response of allergens and supports our immune system overall. It has antimicrobial properties, can remove toxins from our systems, clear our airways and functions as an antihistamine. I personally choose to massage this blend into my whole body, ensuring I apply on my lower back, where the kidneys are as they play a role in regulating blood pressure and filtering waste in the body.
2. Supplement with spirulina. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), spirulina, a blue-green alga, has been found to be a clinically effective option in managing allergic rhinitis when compared to the placebo group. Nutritionally, spirulina is a great source of antioxidants, combats free radicals and boasts anti-inflammatory properties. It also has protein, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium and other minerals making it a great addition to your morning smoothie. I’ve been trying to incorporate a teaspoon or two into my morning smoothie daily or at least every other day. I personally love the taste and fun mermaid color.
3. Stress Management. The times have presented additional challenges and stress, and prioritizing self-care and mental-emotional health are as important as ever. I recently started seeing a friend of mine who is a Thai Yoga Bodyworker/Energy Healer and have really loved this approach. In addition, I’ve been taking time to prioritize meditation, breathing exercises, deep stretching and foam rolling. Other ideas you may enjoy to manage stress could include acupuncture, exercising in nature, playing or listening to music, painting, etc. The sky is the limit!
4. Nasya is an ayurvedic practice where one applies an herbal oil to the nasal passages. I personally love it because of how little time it takes to do, and for how quickly the benefits kick in. I instantly feel mentally clear and less stressed. To practice Nasya, you simply tilt your head back slightly and sniff drops of the herbal oil through each nostril. In turn your nasal tissues are soothed and your breathing is less obstructed. It provides a natural barrier against potentially disturbing allergens as well. The practice of Nasya can be contraindicated for some, so you’ll want to do your research to ensure it’s a good option for you. It is not to be done directly before/after showering, before/after using a neti pot, while menstruating or pregnant. I personally love to apply this oil before bed and find it rests my mind for a more peaceful sleep.
5. Reduce inflammatory foods. Truth be told, there is no substitute for a healthy diet. Allergy symptoms are inflammatory, so it’s best not to add more inflammatory foods into your body. Think of your food choices as part of your medicine and reach for fresh fruits, especially in the morning, whole vegetables and grains. Reducing excessive caffeine/alcohol intake, refined sugars, conventional dairy products could be a helpful straightforward step to take.
Yoga-Ayurvedic consultations may be a great option for you if you have mild-moderate symptoms in your life, allergies or otherwise, that you’d like to treat and navigate holistically with loving care and intelligence. As always, if you have any questions about these ideas feel free to reach out to me.