As discussed in the last edition of the Banyan Vine newsletter, spring brings with it many challenges to the immune system and respiratory system, particularly allergens that can cause a variety of responses in the body. The body’s reaction to allergens, pollutants, and other irritants can be discussed in Ayurveda through the concepts of asaatmya, vitiated doshas (especially kapha), low agni, and the build up of ama, or toxic undigested material. Ayurveda also offers a variety of approaches to support healthy immune and respiratory systems. Some general guidelines include:
- Boost the agni (digestive fire)
- Cleanse ama (undigested toxic residue)
- Balance any vitiated doshas
- Use rasayanas (rejuvenatives) to support immunity and healthy ojas
- Avoid/limit allergen exposure
There are some traditional herbs and herbal formulas that can help one follow these guidelines.
For starters, Chyavanprash is an excellent traditional formula to support the immune system. This classic rejuvenative has powerful herbs blended into a base of amalaki, the Ayurvedic superfruit known for its antioxidant properties. Taken in a jam form, Chyavanprash has been used for centuries to promote proper immune function and rejuvenation, while also supporting healthy metabolism and digestion and nourishing the nervous system and respiratory system. One teaspoon full can be taken once or twice daily by itself, mixed in hot milk, or spread on toast or crackers as a jam. As one of the most traditional rasayanas, Chyavanprash supports immunity and ojas, boosts agni, and cleanses ama. It can also be balancing for all three doshas.
In addition to Chyavanprash, herbs that specifically support the immune system include (among others): licorice, pippali, ginger, turmeric, and the three herbs in triphala--amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. These herbs provide a cleansing effect, helping to bolster the body’s own natural defenses. They are excellent for kindling agni and particularly balancing to kapha, which can get imbalanced in this season, and are also supportive of the body’s natural detoxification of blood and lymph. These herbs can be taken individually, or can be found together in Banyan’s Immune Support.
When the respiratory system specifically needs support, Ayurveda’s traditional formulas include sitopaladi and talisadi. These warming mixes are particularly suited for kapha in the respiratory tract, promoting healthy respiration and clear throat and nasal passages. They can be taken mixed with raw honey, which also helps target the respiratory tissues and naturally scrape toxic residues.
In order to further rejuvenate the immune system and benefit ojas, consider ashwagandha and guduchi, both known to support the body through cycles of stress, promoting energy, vitality, and general health. Additionally, as it is important to have healthy elimination to support removal of waste and toxins, one can always consider using triphala along with immune supportive formulas and herbs.
Finally, in addition to herbs, two basic Ayurvedic practices that can help support the immune system and respiratory system are neti pot (nasal rinsing) and nasya. As mentioned in the last issue of the Banyan Vine, you can direct your clients to these instructional videos to learn how to use a neti pot and how to apply nasya oil. Neti pot can help rinse out the irritants that enter into the nasal passages and sinuses, while nasya oil lubricates the nasal passages and forms a barrier against irritants that could come into contact with the mucous membranes of the nose. (note: neti pot and nasya oil are not to be administered at the same time.)
Using any of these remedies can help support a robust immune system and a healthy respiratory system, making for a fun and enjoyable spring season, a much needed treat for the body, mind and spirit after a long and cold winter.