In Ayurveda, the transitions from summer to fall and from winter to spring are prime times for imbalance and the risk of uncomfortable immune system response and allergies. Learn how to bolster your body for the changing season and find some relief from seasonal allergies.
Seasonal Change and Allergies
According to Ayurveda, if we don’t make seasonal transitions in a graceful and balanced manner, we’ll carry the properties of one season into the next—a primary cause of the accumulation, aggravation, and imbalance of the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha).
For example, as summer ends, if pitta is not in balance, it can dry out the body. End-of-summer pollen, pollutants, and accumulated heat can trigger dry sinuses, sore throats, an amplified immune response to ragweed and other fall allergens, and more as fall approaches.
While autumn allergies are annoying, spring allergies can make it almost impossible to transition to summer without serious setbacks.
Ayurveda refers to spring as the kapha season. Kapha literally means “to stick together.” For many, kapha season is also allergy season. The snow begins to melt and rain becomes more frequent, resulting in the earth holding onto more water. This is nature’s response to a long and dry winter.
The body parallels this shift from winter to spring, and will also hold onto more water this time of year. This can congest the delicate mucous membranes that line the respiratory and digestive tracts. After several months of winter dryness, these mucous membranes are ripe to produce reactive and excessive mucus. Spring’s harvest presents bitter roots, leafy greens, berries, and cherries, which are the perfect antidote to these congestive tendencies.
A major principle of Ayurveda is that each seasonal harvest antidotes the harsh characteristics of that season. The seasonal harvest also prepares the body for the coming season.
Warming, high-protein, and high-fat winter foods help to balance the cold/dry extremes and lubricate the mucous lining of the intestines, lungs, and sinuses. With higher consumption of soluble fiber from winter grains and seeds, like chia and flaxseeds, the intestinal environment slowly becomes coated with a nutrient-rich layer of soluble fibrous slime. This prepares the intestinal lining to welcome in a brand new stable of beneficial spring microbes – with food ready on the table!
Each spring, there is a massive surge in the populations of soil microbes, letting us know that this is truly nature’s New Year. (1,2) These new soil microbes attach themselves to the roots of many of the spring-harvested plant rhizomes such as dandelion, burdock, goldenseal, turmeric, ginger and many more. Traditionally, these roots were spring staples, mainly because not much else was ready to harvest yet. While this time of scarcity forced the body to burn its stored fat and use it as energy, it was also a time when the gut was to be inoculated with new spring microbes. (3)
Sadly, modern humans rarely prepare the gut with near enough winter foods to support this transition, and to the extent the sinuses got dried out in the winter is to the extent they will produce reactive mucus in the spring. Eating out-of-season foods can lead to allergies, digestive issues, and a compromised immune response to the pollen and nectar surges of spring.
9 Ayurvedic Tips to Prevent Seasonal Allergies
1. Avoid congestive foods.
Avoid all refined and processed foods. Avoid salty and sweet foods, as well as dairy, wheat, grains, nuts, and seeds. Beans are great during the spring, as they are astringent and soak up water, and quell kapha qualities.
Sign up for our free 3-Season Diet Challenge to receive monthly seasonal eating guides, including recipes, seasonal superfoods, grocery lists and special discounts on seasonal herbs.
2. Eat for the Season.
Use the guide below for determining how much starch, protein, and produce you should eat each season.
3. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
A glass of water means 8-12 ounces, depending on your size and weight; 6-8 ounces for vata men and women, 8-12 ounces for pitta or kapha men and women. Don’t know your type? Take our free Body Type Quiz here.
4. Sip hot water throughout the day during kapha (spring) season.
Learn my full rehydration therapy here.
5. Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods.
Vitamin C blocks the release of histamine from inflammatory cells. You can find vitamin C in the following foods:
- Citrus fruits (grapefruits are in season)
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
6. Drink 2-3 cups of dandelion root tea daily during allergy season.
Dandelion is a spring-harvested bitter rhizome that offers antioxidant support for healthy liver function and natural detoxification support to the liver.
7. Consider a cleanse to detox the excess dryness of summer or heaviness of winter.
At LifeSpa, we have two Ayurvedic cleanses to choose from. Our 4-day Short Home Cleanse, which is a quick detox, fat-burning reset, liver flush and digestive reset. We also have our 2-week Colorado Cleanse, which is a much more comprehensive digestive reset, liver, and gallbladder flush, intestinal skin restore, lymph cleanse, fat-burning reset, as well as a detox for toxic material like pesticides and heavy metals stored in fat cells.
8. Make lunch the biggest meal of the day, and attempt to make supper smaller and as early as possible.
Learn the many benefits of a big lunch here.
9. Do your best to eat 2-3 meals a day with no snacks.
If you need a snack, consider some fruit. Avoid sweets and snack foods loaded with sweeteners.
For more tips, listen to the Ayurveda Meets Modern Science Podcast, Episode 72: Prevent Seasonal Allergies.