To nip allergies in the bud, our wellness expert Andra Millian MATCM, L.Ac., C.H. weighs in to share her insight on creating solutions for greater health this season with both holistic therapy and food treatment remedies
Let’s face it: for allergy sufferers during the season of rebirth, putting a spring in your steps can feel elusive. Here are some new ways to reframe an old problem from the ancient doctors of China and some new tips on what to do about it from the 21st century pioneers of ‘Functional Wellness’ care.
In ancient Chinese Medicine, unseen airborne pathogens, such as pollen, molds and animal dander were dramatically named ‘Wind Evil’. An illness like an allergy, cold, or flu seemed to blow in like an invisible wind, yet its effects were deeply felt. This is the ancient beginning of what we now know as germs, viruses, and bacteria that attack the body from the outside and cannot be seen with the naked eye. The ancients noticed that in any group of people exposed to such wind evils, only a percentage developed symptoms of illness. These ancient doctors were beginning to notice and define what we now know so much more about The Immune System. It was named ‘the Defensive Qi’ by these ancients – the body’s ability to defend itself against diseases entirely, recover quickly and stay strong afterward from further attack.
People whose Defensive Qi was weak allowed the wind evils to penetrate resulting in hay fever, colds and flu. Conversely, people who cultivated Righteous Qi had strong defensive capabilities to recover quickly and completely from disease or not to get sick at all when others around them went down for the count. In these days before antibiotics or other ways of treating severe diseases, helping strengthen the body’s natural defenses against going downhill fast was of utmost importance to the survival of these ancient communities. So they developed treatment that are still very effective, and side effect free today.
EAT FOR YOUR AILMENT
Most of us know to eat our greens. Plus, foods that strengthen the lungs in the spring season. These are: spicy, acrid-tasting foods (think spice without the heat) like radishes, scallions, onion, garlic, and jicama. Add lots of spicy mint to your beverages. Next, eat to reduce mucus and inflammation. Western medicine recognizes that inflammation is largely caused by dietary sugar and things that turn into sugar. Furthermore, Chinese Dietary Therapy advises that in spring it is important to eat foods that are seasonal and lightly cooked: like steaming, blanching or sautéing to help you battle the ‘wind evils.’ Also, enjoy salads made from ‘new growth’ like sprouts of all kinds and seasonal berries which are rich in antioxidants. Unlike in winter, we don’t need to eat as many ‘building’ foods like grains or dried beans in spring. So you can put away your crockpot for now and break out your sauté pan.
It is advisable to start including an antioxidant supplement in your allergy season regimen as soon as you can. Antioxidants help defend the body from the stress it endures from repeated allergy attacks. Also, treat your belly to good probiotics, which are especially important for keeping the beneficial bacteria in your gut happy. Healthy gut bacteria are essential for a balanced and strong immune system and so easy to add to your routine. This is especially important if you’ve used antibiotics to ward off allergy and sinus problems in the past season because antibiotics kill bad as well as good bacteria so, I encourage you to replant and replace! And yes, some good organic yogurt does help but it’s sometimes not enough if damage to your gut flora has been done.
Here are some favorite supplements that are staples in my clinic: Metagenics’ PhytoMulti is a daily vitamin that is extra rich in antioxidants. The Ultimate Antiox Full Spectrum by Designs for Health is also one I particularly find helpful in my practice during allergy season. Metagenics also makes a probiotic with extra immune enhancing properties called Ultra-Flora Spectrum. You get the entire good gut flora with an extra kick start to your immune defense during allergy season.
Always check with your personal health care provider to make sure these suggestions are a good fit for you. Of course, I have to mention the wonderful benefits of acupuncture and massage. Both of these modalities work wonders in different and complementary ways to soothe your nervous system down when it’s under attack by seasonal allergens. In this season of new beginnings, I encourage you to try as many of these ancient and new tips to help you beat those ‘windy evils’ into submission; to strengthen you, arm and and free you to get outside, sit in some wildflowers and share in this lighthearted season.