After a very dry winter and another epic Flu season, it seems we finally have a bit of moisture. With the spring rains, we may feel some relief from the excessive dust and dryness (which is a breeding ground for disease), and the desert smell is AMAZING, and yet, we are also in the midst of Juniper allergy season, which can be quite a challenge.
Years back, I lived north of town, down a long dirt road. There were no houses near me, but miles and miles of Juniper, and every spring, I began to lovingly refer to the area as ‘Juniper Hell’. When I walked out my door and the wind would blow, a yellow dust storm would engulf me, my dogs, and my car. It was actually a bit scary, and after 20 some years of no allergies in Prescott, they hit me like a brick.
An occasional Benadryl or Claritin helped to break the allergic response, but the after affects felt horrible. It reminded me of my early drug days and why I stopped doing things that dulled my mind or jacked up my nervous system. I knew I did not want to rely on these or get the Kenalog shot, and so I had to figure out something.
The other solution was to leave town. And they do say if you leave the area you are from, for up to a month, it can help to break the cycle. I still like this idea the best, but it hasn’t quite worked into my budget yet, so….. What can we do to help manage?
There are many ideas out there, but I want to share a few things that have helped me along the way.
Being in a mountain town (and yes climate change is real), it is hard to predict season to season what our weather will be. Last year it was cold and snowy and wet most of the winter, and the Juniper popped by the end of January. This year, it has been dry and mild until recently, and although some people have been feeling the allergies since January, the trees are not as heavily pollinated and it is already Mid March.
With the unpredictability of the seasons, it is hard to pinpoint the best time for a Cleanse, but ideally, as the Spring season hits, a gentle cleanse really can help. During the Winter months, the qualities of Kapha (cold, damp, heavy) accumulate in the body. Then as the Spring warms up, it liquefies and aggravates Kapha and starts to flow (meaning runny noses, phlegm and congestion all start to mobilize). And this is where it can wreak havoc.
Cleansing in the Spring helps to reset the digestion, which is one of the primary issues that triggers allergies ~ a weak digestion and accumulation of toxins in the system. Mild and appropriate cleansing that helps to strengthen the Liver, cleanse the lungs/sinuses and reset the digestive fire is Key to maintaining health. Eating with the season is essential. This is the time where greens are abundant in nature and needed in our diet. Asparagus, leafy greens, dandelions and other bitters are starting to sprout up and all naturally cleanse the blood and liver and help to cut through the damp, heavy, stickiness in the body. This is not the time for a heavy Meat/Dairy/Wheat diet, but instead a time for Roasted Grains and Warming Dhals, Good Digestive Spices (Turmeric, Ginger, black pepper, Cayenne) and Teas like Cumin/Coriander and Fennel.
And Spring is the time to get moving. If you practice Yoga ~ this is the time of year for Sun Salutations in the early morning, Nauli and Kapalabhati breathing. Move the lymph. Get on the rebounder, get out the dry brush, take walks in the early morning, and dance. It’s the time for Neti pots and Nasya and Svedana or Steams.
In general think warm, light and dry to balance out the cold, damp and heavy, whether it is with your food or your activity. But be careful to shift slowly and not too abruptly. Don’t start doing a sudden 3 week juice fast and 108 sun salutes. This in the long run can be too shocking for your system, too excessive and more harmful than good. As my teacher once told us, ‘Spring is the most delicate and most vulnerable time’. It is a time of new growth and movement, but if we look at the plants, we recognize they are still fragile in their early stage of growth and still need deep nourishment.
The other , and I believe even bigger factor, that triggers sickness and allergies is STRESS. That year the allergies hit me was a year I was intensely grieving. I had no filter or back up and my adrenals were shot.
So beyond just doing a cleanse each spring, we need to be able to look at the bigger picture. What depletes us? What nourishes us? Do our daily routines support and enliven us or do we drag through and collapse by the end of the day? Some stress is unavoidable and loss and grief are a part of life, but what about the things we can do differently? And how do we navigate through each season with balance and care, instead of just bumbling through until we crash. Do we pay attention to the three pillars of health; Balanced sleep, Balanced diet and Balanced use of our energy? Many times, (and I know we have all done it), we push through a project or period of time without proper sleep or nourishing food, thinking that ‘when it is done, we can catch up and rest’. The problem being (and research has proven) that we do not and cannot make up for that lost sleep or lack of nourishment and the damage done to our adrenals is real.
Another thing to note is spring allergies present differently in different bodies, so what works for one person, may not work for you. Year after year I tried the local honey, which so many people swore by, and it did nothing. Manuka honey with a little Trikatu, however, was a god send. Some people get the constant runny nose, others the itchy eyes and still others they just feel congested and sleepy and their digestion is heavy and sluggish. Being that it is so different for each individual, I cannot give a simple answer for all to try, but I am available for private consultation, where we can fine tune what may or may not work for you.
I also encourage you to take an upcoming workshop with me in April on Reigniting the Fire ~ A Gentle Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse. Look for my flyer or contact me for more info. Space is limited.
I am also Thrilled to be offering more Svedana treatments (sweating therapies) and the newest addition being the Steamy Wonder. The clients, who have tried it, LOVE IT and I am offering a special through the end of April of a 1 hour massage followed by the Steamy Wonder for $100 (normally $115).
I used the Steamy Wonder at the Ashram I worked at, for years, and finally was able to add it to my own practice. I figure if no one else joins me, you will find me in there on a regular basis this Spring season.