According to Ayurvedic samprapti (pathogenesis), allergies are a doshic reaction to a specific allergen, such as pollen, dust, chemicals on a rug, ragweed, or any strong chemical smell. These allergic reactions are classified as vata type, pitta type, and kapha type.
• Vata-type allergies are characterized by bloating of the stomach, gastric discomfort, or even intestinal colic. A vata allergy may lead to sudden wheezing, sneezing, headache, ringing in the ears, or insomnia.
For example, some individuals, when exposed to dust or pollen,
suddenly start wheezing. The wheezing is due to narrowing of the bronchial tree due to vata dosha. That person may also experience insomnia and other vata-type symptoms.
• In a pitta type of allergy, pitta dosha is already present under the skin. If the person comes in contact with an allergen, such as chemicals, ragweed, or certain synthetic fibers, then the pitta penetrates through the capillaries due to its hot and sharp qualities and creates a rash, itching, hives, urticaria, allergic dermatitis, or eczema—all pitta-type allergic reactions.
• Kapha allergies are often experienced during spring season, when plants and trees shed their pollens into the atmosphere. When the pollens, such as juniper or any other flower pollen, are inhaled, they enter the nasal-respiratory passage, and in some people they irritate the delicate mucous membrane, leading to hay fever, colds, congestion, a cough, sinus infection, and even asthma. In order to treat allergies effectively, first we have to find out whether it is vata, pitta, or kapha type. Then we can determine the specific line of treatment.
In most cases, perhaps 80 percent, your prakruti (constitution) predicts your allergy proneness. That is, there is usually a correspondence between a person’s constitution and the type of allergic reaction. A person of pitta prakruti is more likely to have a pitta allergic reaction, especially when the vikruti or current status of the system shows a pitta imbalance. But it may also happen that due to diet, environmental
conditions, emotional factors, or other causes, a kapha person may have a vata imbalance, and so forth.
TREATMENT FOR VATA-TYPE ALLERGIES
BASTI. One of the most effective remedies for vata-type allergies is a dashamoola tea basti (enema). Boil 1 tablespoon of the herbal compound dashamoola in 1 pint of water for 5 minutes to make a tea. Cool it, strain it, and use the liquid as an enema. (See appendix 3 for complete directions.) Vata symptoms, such as wheezing, sneezing, dryness of the
throat, dryness of the colon leading to distension, constipation, and abdominal discomfort, can be immediately corrected by this dashamoola tea basti.
Use this herbal formula:
Ashwagandha 1 part
Bala 1 part
Vidari 1 part
Mix these herbs in equal proportion, and take ¼ teaspoon of the powder 3 times a day, washed down with warm water, to relieve vata allergies.
• To soothe an extreme wheezing condition, make one cup of either ginger or licorice tea, boiling 1 teaspoon of the herb for about 3 minutes in 1 cup of water. Then add 5 to 10 drops of mahanarayan oil, mix thoroughly, and take 1 sip every 10 to 15 minutes. (If you do not have mahanarayan oil, you can substitute ½ teaspoon of plain ghee.)
TREATMENT FOR PITTA-TYPE ALLERGIES
HERBAL REMEDIES. This herbal formula is effective to pacify pitta:
Shatavari 8 parts
Kama dudha ½ part
Guduchi 1 part
Shanka bhasma ¼ part
Take ½ teaspoon of this mixture 2 or 3 times a day after meals,
with a little warm water.
• For hives, rash, urticaria, dermatitis, or eczema, apply neem oil or tikta ghrita (bitter ghee) on the skin.
BLOOD PURIFICATION. Traditionally, Ayurveda has suggested that individuals with high pitta, who are prone to developing pitta-type problems such as sunburn in the summer season, do rakta moksha, or bloodletting, before the onset of the summer. Although this practice is currently not very
well respected in the West, it is still used widely in India, as it has proven to be an effective preventive and healing measure. To make use of it today, you might consider donating about ½ pint or 100 cc. of blood to a blood bank. That will help to defuse pitta conditions such as allergic dermatitis and allergic eczema.
• To produce a similar effect, you can use a blood-cleansing herbal combination. For example, mix the herbs manjistha and neem in equal amounts.
Manjistha 1 part
Neem 1 part
Take ½ teaspoon of this mixture 3 times a day with warm water
after meals. It will cleanse the blood and help to heal pitta-type
• The common Western herb burdock is also an effective blood
purifier; you can make a tea from ½ teaspoon burdock per cup of boiling water and drink it 2 or 3 times a day.
TREATMENT FOR KAPHA-TYPE ALLERGIES
HERBAL REMEDIES. Kapha allergies generally take the form of respiratorypulmonary congestion, cough, cold, asthma, or hay fever. For relief from these conditions, use the following herbal formula:
Sitopaladi 4 parts
Yashti madhu 4 parts
Abrak bhasma ⅛ part
Take about ¼ teaspoon of this mixture 3 times a day with honey.
PURGATION THERAPY. Kapha-type allergies occur when excess kapha collects in the stomach and lungs. One way to relieve this congestion is purgation therapy (virechana). Use flaxseed oil (available in most natural food stores), and take 1 teaspoon 2 or 3 times a day for 2 or 3 days. This will
be quite effective. Or you can use triphala (see below).
VOMITING THERAPY. The Ayurvedic therapy that is particularly effective for removing excess kapha from the stomach and respiratory tract is vamana, or vomiting therapy. I have noticed, however, that people in the West have a strong cultural bias against vomiting, and many seem particularly uncomfortable with this procedure. It not only seems
physically repugnant but may be emotionally difficult as well, as some emotional purification may arise as a result of the physical purification.
So if you tend to have strong emotions or have trouble dealing with them, it might be better for you not to try vamana.
If you want to try it—and I want to emphasize that it is very effective for eliminating excess kapha—the procedure is to drink a stomach full of licorice tea and salt water and then to regurgitate it, emptying the stomach. Start by drinking several cups of licorice tea, followed by a pint of water with about 1 teaspoon of salt mixed in. Drink enough to fill your stomach, then rub the back of the tongue and vomit it out.
If you have high blood pressure, low blood pressure, hiatal hernia, or a history of heart problems, do not do vaman therapy.
HEALING GUIDELINES FOR ALL TYPES OF ALLERGIES USE TRIPHALA.
For all three types of allergies, one can take ½ to 1 teaspoon
of triphala at night. (See appendix 2 for instructions for preparing triphala.) Triphala acts as both a laxative and a purgative. It consists of three herbs: amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Haritaki works on vata dosha, amalaki on pitta dosha, and bibhitaki on kapha dosha.
For vata allergy, follow a vata-soothing diet; for pitta type
of allergy, the pitta-pacifying diet; and for kapha allergy, the kaphareducingdiet. (Diet guidelines may be found in chapter 8.)
WATCH YOUR FOOD COMBINATIONS.
It is important for individuals with allergies not
to eat incompatible food combinations, such as milk and yogurt, meat and dairy, poultry and dairy, melon and grains, or fruits and grains. Avoid such things as banana milk shakes and “fruit smoothies” made with milk. For a more complete list of food incompatibilities, please turn to this page.
AVOID THE CAUSE.
For most allergies, one should try to avoid the immediate
cause: the allergen. People who are allergic to cats, dogs, hair, pollen, mold, and so on should simply try to avoid them. Also try to stay away from synthetic fibers such as polyester and rayon, which can cause pittatype skin allergies. It is best to wear cotton clothing. Because of the large quantity of pesticides routinely sprayed on cotton, you might consider
using only organic cotton products, though they tend to be more expensive.
BLOCK THE ALLERGENS.
Generally, the respiratory passage is open to dust and
other allergens. One way to minimize the effect of allergens that you can’t avoid is to lubricate the nasal mucous membrane with ghee. This prevents direct contact of the allergen with the mucous membrane.
USE NEEM OIL.
Another way to reduce or avoid the effect of environmental
allergens is to apply neem oil to the exposed part of the body. The presence of the oil on the skin, as well as the disinfectant properties of neem, will minimize contact with the allergen.
NOTE: Use neem herbalized oil—that is, neem leaves cooked in a base of sesame or another oil. Pure neem extract will be too strong. If you find that even this herbalized neem oil is too strong and creates an itching or burning sensation, mix it half and half with coconut oil.