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Kapha and Spring Weather
The word kapha means to stick together. Or, less pleasantly, it means phlegm (think of “kaph” as “cough”).
Kapha is the Ayurvedic constitution made up of earth and water elements.
In nature, when earth and water mix, you get mud. When these elements mix in the body, you get excessive mucus production from the intestinal and respiratory mucus membranes.
The good news is that this production is a way nature compensates for the excessive dryness of winter (if you live in temperate or non-equatorial regions). The kapha energy of spring helps to balance out the excessive vata energy of late winter.
Kapha accumulates in nature and the body from March through June. But too much can cause fatigue, depression, congestion, compromised immunity, and the tendency to gain weight or hold water.
How to Balance Kapha This Spring
You can balance out excess kapha by eating seasonal foods and taking certain Ayurvedic supplements.
Foods that Balance Kapha
There are three tastes that predominate in the spring harvest that balance excess kapha. These are bitter, astringent, and pungent. Foods with these tastes are often fiber-rich. Think dandelion, burdock, turmeric, and ginger roots, or spring greens.
Sign up for LifeSpa’s free seasonal eating guide and get monthly recipes and grocery lists to help balance kapha this spring.
Herbs that Balance Kapha
In Ayurveda, certain herbs can balance kapha, too, while also helping to repopulate your gut with microbes that are appropriate for spring (yes, microbes are seasonal).
Microbes that surge in the spring, such as Bacteroidetes, are known to help digest high-fiber foods that are more abundant in the spring harvest.
At LifeSpa, we recommend four evidence-based herbs to help navigate spring without excess kapha accumulation.
1. Mucus Destroyer: To Soothe the Mucus Membranes and Fight Congestion
Mucus Destroyer is primarily made of a respiratory herbal churna (powder) called sitopladi.
Sitopladi balances kapha (remember, phlegm) and vata, which causes the underlying dryness of the respiratory mucosa that can aggravate and cause reactive mucus production.
Sitopladi is a unique combination of cane sugar, a type of bamboo called banslochan (Bambusa arundinacea), long pepper, or pippali (Piper longum), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia).
Its ingredients support both a dry or wet cough. Sitopladi has also been found to support respiratory immunity while providing antioxidant protection.
We add turmeric, ginger, and black pepper to the sitopladi, to deliver more of the kapha-balancing tastes of pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Ginger and pepper also act as natural bio-enhancers to boost the effectiveness of the sitopladi and drive it more deeply into respiratory tissues.
2. Tulsi Holy Basil: For an Added Immunity Boost
Tulsi Holy Basil (Ocimun sanctum) is a pungent and heating herb that also balances both kapha and vata.
Remember, the most common cause of aggravated kapha or excess springtime congestion is the dryness of vata. A harsh winter can excessively dry out the mucus membranes in your lungs and intestines, and that can lead to excessive mucus production.
Tulsi is unique because it powerfully and effectively balances kapha and vata while supporting healthy immunity. In a 2017 meta-analysis published in the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that tulsi repeatedly supported a healthy immune response by supporting the healthy production of natural killer and T-helper cells.
Research has also suggested that tulsi supports less fatigue and healthy breathing levels, as measured by VO2 Max.
Earlier studies found that in addition to supporting a healthy immune response and helping to manage seasonal respiratory symptoms, tulsi also had a powerful effect on mood. It promoted calmness, clarity, and stamina.
3. Aller-Rest: For Seasonal Sinus Support
Aller-Rest provides fast-acting, natural support for immune reactions, including watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose, as well as other manifestations of histamine release.
Formulated with a synergistic combination of vitamin C, bioflavonoids (Quescetin, rutin), amino acids, herbs, and bromelain, Aller-Rest addresses distressing signs of immune hypersensitivity.
Vitamin C, or asorbic acid, is a kapha-balancing antioxidant and may play a role in deactivating histamine responses.
Bioflavonoids, including quercetin and rutin, are active kapha-reducing agents. They protect your tissues from the negative effects of hyperimmune reactions, including oxidation and inflammation.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is the acetylated form of the essential amino acid L-cysteine. As a precursor to the “master antioxidant” glutathione, NAC plays a significant role in detoxification and antioxidant protection. NAC also reduces the viscosity of the mucus commonly produced during a hyperimmune response.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) extract has been found to regulate a variety of inflammatory activities associated with hyperimmune response, including mast-cell degranulation, prostaglandin formation, and histamine action.
Bromelain refers to an enzyme complex extracted from the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant (Ananas comosus). Research suggests it can help modulate an inflammatory response.
4. Guggul Lean: For Supporting Healthy Fat Metabolism
Guggul Lean is a combination of guggul gum (Commiphora mukul) extract, arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), turmeric (Curcuma longa), amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica ), shilajit (Asphaltum punjabianum) extract, and black pepper (Piper nigrum). Each of these herbs balance kapha in their own way.
In Ayurveda, guggul is considered to be the most powerful remedy for the buildup of ama, an Ayurvedic term for undigested metabolic waste. Studies illustrate guggul’s positive effect on healthy cholesterol levels, thyroid function, fat metabolism, and liver and gallbladder function.
In one study, individuals taking 50mg of a guggul extract, in addition to a fruit- and vegetable-enriched diet, saw a 12 percent decrease in triglycerides and a 33 percent reduction in lipid peroxidation, an indicator of oxidative stress, compared to no changes in the placebo group.
Arjuna is Ayurveda’s primary heart health herb. This reddish tree bark has powerful antioxidants that support microcirculation and lymph drainage for the heart and cardiovascular system. (Amalaki has similar benefits.)
Turmeric helps to liquify mucus congestion. While shilajit, with its high concentration of humic and fulvic acids, acts as a powerful kapha-detoxification agent.
How and When to Take Ayurvedic Herbs for Spring
Mucus Destroyer to slow excessive mucus production or runny sinuses: Take 2 capsules after each meal.
Tulsi Holy Basil for combatting feelings of heaviness, exhaustion, or melancholy: Take 2 capsules with breakfast and supper
Aller-Rest for easing early spring, pollen-based congestion and boosting immunity: Take 2 capsules 3 times a day after food. Once you feel better, take less as needed to combat sinus congestion, or kapha.
Guggul Lean for supporting thyroid and heart health while boosting fat metabolism: Take 1 to 2 capsules twice a day after food during kapha season, or whenever metabolic support is needed.