Meet Byrdie's monthly columnist, Juhi. She’s an acupuncturist, wellness and health guru, activist, CEO and founder of The Juhi-Ash Center in New York City’s Upper East Side. Each month, she’ll be answering your questions and sharing her tips on how to leave a healthier, more centered life from a holistic perspective. In her first column, she shares her personal health journey and a few simple tips for easing into a new year, new season, or new period in your life. Got questions? Follow her @juhi says and DM us @byrdiebeauty so she can answer them in her next column.
Tulips pushing through the earth is my signal to dust off my peep-toe stilettos. And with my boot-freed feet comes the promise of grassy walks and sneezes. Everything in life is balance. In Ayurveda, the severity of allergies is caused by the severity of a person's Dosha imbalances. Doshas are the three life forces present in each of us: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Each season presents different allergies as a result of the off-kilter Dosha affected in specific seasons: Pitta/summertime, Vata/fall-winter, and Kapha/spring. Springtime allergies are the result of too much cold, heavy, and dense Kapha in the body. (Thank you, winter.) Let’s focus on spring. As you know, focusing on the moment is always a good thing.
The Ayurvedic way of nipping allergy manifestations in the bud from spring irritants is to fire up the Agni (digestive fire). To do this, you incorporate the opposite Kapha qualities—warm, light, mobile and clear—into your day. As in all Ayurvedic treatment, treating the origin instead of the symptom is the key to achieving long-term benefits and relief. While you want to physically side-step the external allergen, you also want to boost your internal immunity so that you have to side-step less. Let me put it this way; I want you to proactively address those spring allergies so you can saunter under the cherry trees and not view them from the car. So let’s lighten the body internally with nourishment and externally with exercise and a few Ayurvedic tips I have up my spring-jacket sleeve.
Ayruvedic Gentle Cleanse
While you’re spring cleaning your home, doesn’t it make sense to spring clean yourself? A spring Ayurvedic cleanse, however, is not one-size-fits-all. You will need to know your unique constitution to create the bouquet that suits you. You can determine this with a plethora of Google hits to "what is my Dosha?" Or, more wisely, seek the advice of an Ayurvedic Specialist. A full-vice detox isn’t the only path. A simple path to follow would be to eat cleansing foods exclusively for a week or so (like chickpeas, dandelion greens, okra, quinoa, and others). Google is again helpful in this cleansing foods search. Basically, nothing out of a box. Yes, that includes Oreos. Ditch the coffee, alcohol, and anything you can’t pronounce. And, of course, no nicotine.
Eat light, warm-cooked meals. Spring is the time for steamed veggies and ghee. Ghee is clarified butter or, as I like to call it, liquid gold. It has the healing properties of butter without saturated fat and milk solids. No one said the path to good health shouldn’t be pleasurable. In India, Ghee is a sacred symbol of auspiciousness as well as used medicinally. It is used topically to soothe muscles and skin irritation—good fortune, good health, beauty, and deliciousness. A dollop of ghee on Kitchari is one of my go-to's. Kitchari is a warm varying mix of lentils, rice, spices, and veggies designed to be very gentle on your digestion. Spring is a time of growth, so eat things that grow from the earth, warming them. Salad is not your best friend yet. Salad needs to wait in the wings with cold dairy (like frozen yogurt) until summer.
Resembling a tiny teapot with a particularly long spout, the Neti Pot is the best thing to clear a stuffy nose from pollen—without a drop of pharmaceuticals involved. It takes a bit of practice to get used to, but it is time well spent. In time, it will become a proactive practice to avoid stuffiness to begin with. The nose is the direct route to the brain and the doorway to consciousness. It is the entrance for Prana (life-force) through the breath. You want to keep that path well-maintained.
The practice of putting herb-infused oil drops in the nose to lubricate dry nasal passages and keep allergies from irritating the nasal lining. You can use a blend of Nasya oils from Banyan Botanicals.
Now that your nasal passage is clear, take a deep breath. Pranayama is a series of breathwork techniques that stem from the yogic tradition. Research shows that highly significant prevention and cure of allergies can be attributed to deep breathing exercises. Controlling your breathing helps you achieve mental and spiritual calm, freeing up space in the body. Try alternating your intake of breath through one nostril and exhaling through the other by gently pressing closed one nostril at a time.
Herbs and Spices
Again, you want to warm things up. Warming spices like cinnamon, turmeric, licorice, and black pepper all help support your Agni. Ginger is good for wheezing. Garlic and Rosemary are antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants. That’s a powerhouse in tiny packaging. An easy way to sow their benefits is to make a warm tea of your preferred spices with honey and sip.
We don’t always get the number of nutrients our bodies need from the food we eat. Supplements support your immune system and, in turn, ward off allergy symptoms. Pure Essentials (pure-essentials.com) is gold standard support. Ultra Quercetin and vitamin C's synergistic effect is very powerful, making them strong allies in fighting allergies and inflammation. Ultra Digestzyme and Aller-Support also work well. Or Breathe Pack to really knock the petals off.
Yoga wakes the slumbering bear from her cave or, in our case, the couch from which we view Netflix. Yoga lightens the mind and body. Now that the days are lengthening, end your day with a Sun Salutation in gratitude.
Addressing spring allergies is much like the season itself. Spring is light. It is folding sweaters and shaking out cotton. It is warm afternoon walks and lighter evening meals. You follow the rhythm of nature to stay in tune with it and yourself. Of course, the occasional sneeze will occur. Proactively, let me say this ahead of that sneeze: Buddha Bless You. Be Well.