Have you ever wondered why your mucus membranes become more irritated, productive, or dry each winter? In a perfect world, we would live in harmony with the seasonal harvest, and nature would provide protection of the body’s mucus membranes.
However, today we live in houses with dry heat that triggers excess mucus production, congestion, and postnasal drip each spring. Many of us eat diets that don’t vary much throughout the year, and we migrate from house to office to car, cooled to 72ﾟ in the summer and heated to 72ﾟ in the winter.
Living predominately indoors disconnects us from nature by insulating us not only from changing seasonal temperatures, but also from light-dark circadian cycles. Mucus membranes that line the respiratory and digestive tracts react first.
One study shows that the average American experiences only one to two hours of sunlight per day in the summer, and much of that is through the window of a car. In winter, sunlight exposure is much less.1
Such a disconnect from seasonal cycles forces us to react abruptly to each seasonal change. Mucus membranes exposed to the outer environment through breath and digestion may be shocked and overreact to seasonal changes because we have insulated ourselves from the graceful transition nature intended. For that, Ayurveda had a plan.
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Herbs for Balancing Spring (Kapha) Congestion
As the seasons change, dry and irritated membranes may produce reactive mucus to protect against accumulating heat and the dryness.
Production of excess reactive mucus in the respiratory and intestinal tract can bog down cilia and villa, compromising absorption of nutrients and natural intestinal detoxification, while congesting the sinuses and upper respiratory tract as we approach winter.
Dry or excess mucus in the respiratory or intestinal tract can alter the natural environment that supports healthy and beneficial bacteria. Excess or depleted mucus can be a breeding ground for undesirable bacteria, which compete for the same resources as trillions of beneficial bacteria required for optimal health and a robust immune system.
Nature not only provides cooling fruits and vegetables in the summer and warming, lubricating, and insulating nuts, seeds, and grains in the winter, but also numerous herbal plants to balance mucus membranes.
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Ayurveda‘s classic formula for a healthy respiratory tract is a combination of herbs called sitopladi churna, which consists of cane sugar, a type of bamboo called banslochan (Bambusa arundinacea), long pepper or pippali fruit (Piper longum), cardamom seed (Elettaria cardamomum), and cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia).
Sitopladi churna has properties that allow for natural expectoration of mucus. It balances kapha (phlegm), vata (dryness), and pitta (acute irritation, heat, and dryness) in the chest, throat, and respiratory tract.2
Sitopladi has been shown to support a healthy antioxidant effect3 and boost immunity in the respiratory tract.4
To make this formula even more beneficial for balancing vata and kapha respiratory tracts, we combine it with turmeric and a bio-enhancing formula called trikatu, which consists of ginger, long pepper, and black pepper.
These pungent agents help balance mucus production, while boosting respiratory defenses. They also act as bio-availability enhancers or bio-enhancers, as they drive absorption and boost effectiveness of other herbs in the formula.5,7
The bio-enhancing effect is called yogavahi in Ayurveda. Numerous herbs in Ayurveda are classified as yogavahi and are used as drivers or bio-enhancers in many formulas.5
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a pungent root well-documented to support a healthy immune system, the external and internal skin (which lines the intestinal and respiratory tracts), healthy clear respiration, and natural expectoration of healthy lungs.6
Turmeric also supports a healthy environment of mucus membranes, in which beneficial bacteria can proliferate, which compete with undesirable bacteria for growing space in both respiratory and intestinal tracts.6
Bringing it All Together
Many of us have mucus membrane issues in the winter and spring. That’s why we’ve combined all of the above ingredients into one of my favorite LifeSpa formulas: Mucus Destroyer.
Check it out for a better transition out of winter this year.