Millions of people cringe when they see flowers start blooming in spring each year, because they know they will soon be fighting spring allergies. According to recent statistics, allergies are assuming epidemic proportions in the United States, with up to 30% of adults and 40% of children now suffering from hay fever symptoms -- nasal congestion and itchy, watering eyes. Allergy now reportedly appears regularly in the top 10 reasons for visits to doctors' offices.

Researchers and doctors are still unclear on exactly why some people are affected by allergens such as dust, pollen and mold while others are not. Faced with data that the developed nations of the West have a higher incidence of allergies, scientists have put forward the "hygiene hypothesis" -- that the "clean" surroundings, immunizations and antibiotics prevalent in these countries may be responsible for many people's reactions to allergens. Other factors that may be contributing include diet, exposure to chemicals and carpeted housing.

Doctors have traditionally asked sufferers to avoid the allergens causing a reaction, but this is often easier said than done. Allergy shots currently available and antihistamines can create harmful side-effects and reactions, worsening the situation. Scientists and researchers appear to be convinced that the ultimate solution will be to figure out ways of teaching the body to be indifferent to innocuous allergens. The irony is that the human body is born knowing how to do that: the question is, what can be done to prevent the body from "losing" that knowledge.

What Maharishi Ayurveda Says

Gearing up the body's own immune system to effectively combat allergens is exactly what Maharishi Ayurveda suggests as the long-term, effective solution to allergies. In the spring, impurities inside the body are melting due to the rising temperature in the environment. The liquefied toxins clog the channels of the body. When the channels are blocked, nutrients are not delivered properly to the cells, and the body's immune systems for resisting allergens become overwhelmed. In the spring, as flowers burst into bloom, they fill the air with pollen. So the allergens in the environment are increasing at the same time that the body's defenses are being challenged. That's the reason for the incidence of allergies suddenly shooting up in the spring.

Kapha is one of the three ayurvedic mind/body operating principles, called doshas in ayurveda. Among other things, it governs fluid balance in the body. In respiratory allergies, a particular subdosha of Kapha, called Shleshaka Kapha is responsible for maintaining moisture in the upper respiratory tract. As the Ama (digestive impurities) in the body starts melting, it combines with Shleshaka Kapha to form a thick, sticky toxin called Shleshma, which starts to fill the respiratory tract and sinus cavities. The entire respiratory system, as a result, becomes a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and infection. This is the reason many allergies end up as secondary sinus and respiratory infections.

Strengthening the Body's Defense Systems

So what can one do to help the body combat allergens? It is not enough just to quell the symptoms. The long-term solution is to delve into the root cause of allergies and build up the body's immune system to effectively withstand allergens.

What about diet? Researchers have found that a diet that includes regular intake of spices with anti-allergy capabilities can reduce vulnerability to plant-induced allergies. These spices contain allergy-fighting chemicals that include flavonoids and phenols -- for example, turmeric is rich in curcumin, a compound that is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can also help improve digestion and balance the flow of bile. Sage, red pepper, cumin and coriander are some other spices that are known to be allergy fighters. Saut?ng a combination of ground turmeric, cumin and coriander in ghee and using the mixture to season vegetables is a way of incorporating some of these allergy-fighting spices into your diet.

From the ayurvedic perspective, it is important to follow a Kapha-Pitta pacifying diet. When allergens attack the body, the body's immune system releases various chemicals. So it is considered essential to pacify Pitta because Pitta regulates chemical functions in the body. It is also important ot pacify Kapha to counteract sluggish digestion and congestion. This is especially true in the Kapha season (spring).

Understanding that it is important to strengthen the body's defense systems to effectively combat allergies is important. Appeasing symptoms provides only temporary relief.

Author's Bio: 

Rama Kant Mishra is head of research and development for
Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, an Ayurvedic products distributor located in Colorado Springs. He comes from a long line of Raj Vaidyas, physicians to the royalty of ancient India. His perspective on health and wellness issues can be read each month in Total Health News, a monthly newsletter published at