Spring Clean Yourself With Ayurveda
Springtime is traditionally a time for clearing out clutter and starting afresh, but it is not only our homes that need a cleaning—what about our life? A well-being regime for you and your family offers a simple approach that can lead to a sustainable daily practice.
Although this seasonal change brings welcomed warmth, for those who suffer from colds, flu, hay fever, headaches, allergies, and asthma, spring can be uncomfortable, as evidenced by the 20 million people diagnosed with hay fever in the United States in the last year.
Modern medicine can treat the symptoms of such illnesses, but the wisdom of ancient systems such as Chinese, Tibetan, and ayurvedic medicine provide simple, achievable guidelines for well-being.
These systems concentrate on preserving and maintaining health, rather than treating disease, making them fundamentally different from the care provided by a physician.
For some, the ancients’ holistic and proactive approach to health care requires a shift in thought toward accepting that simply reacting to illness is an incomplete prescription for health.
Ayurveda, Sanskrit for “life knowledge,” is based upon the ancient Vedic principles that health can be attained through a correct balance of different energies (ether, air, fire, water, earth) and harmony with our external environment.
By using a selection of diagnostic tools, such as examining the tongue, taking the pulse, observing, and questioning, the ayurvedic practitioner creates a tailored treatment plan in which diet and lifestyle are addressed, and body therapies, yoga, or herbs may be prescribed.
In springtime, the water and earth elements are prevalent, and we are susceptible to illnesses that display these qualities (heavy, dense, moist conditions). Think of earth and water creating mud. Translated within the body, this leads to sluggish conditions such as fatigue, flu, mucus colds, and coughs. Spring is naturally the time for disorders such as colds, flu, hay fever, headaches, allergies, and asthma.
In practical terms, reducing the earth and water elements and favoring the opposite qualities in your diet and lifestyle will reduce springtime sickness.
This is the principle of “similar increases similar,” useful at any time of year. Stop and ask, “What are the underlying feelings of this illness? Is it heavy, light, dry, moist, or something else?” Then choose the opposite quality in your diet and lifestyle to find relief. When we are hot, for example, we may instinctively reach for an ice cream to cool ourselves down. The ayurvedic texts describe a choice of 20 qualities divided into 10 pairs of opposites, such as heavy and light, oily and dry, and stable and mobile.
|The 20 Opposing Qualities in Ayurveda|
|Slow (dull)||Sharp (penetrating)|
This brings us back to springtime. As water and earth tend to be heavy, dense, stable, oily, and moist, to balance yourself, introduce stimulation and warmth to your day. Eat light, dry, warm foods and favor pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Reduce heavy, oily, cold foods and sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
The ayurvedic approach is not to be strict and avoid certain foods completely, but rather to bring the awareness that that heavy, dense piece of chocolate cake, for example, may not be the best choice when one is suffering from a mucus (sticky), heavy head cold.
Five Effective Springtime Remedies From Your Kitchen
Use for cough, cold, flu or excessive mucus in throat and sinuses and to stimulate digestion and appetite before or after eating.
Cut 4 to 6 thin slices of fresh ginger (or grate a 1-centimeter piece). Add to a saucepan with 1 1/4 cups to 1 3/4 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and drink; sweeten with honey, if desired. Make a large batch in the morning and place in a vacuum flask for a ready supply throughout the day.
Use for giving strength, for increasing energy, and as a digestive aid.
Soak 4 blanched almonds, 4 dates, 2 cardamom pods, and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds in 1 cup to 1 1/4 cups water overnight. Blend in the morning and drink. This drink is a good source of iron, potassium (helps with calcium uptake), protein, and B vitamins.
Use for acute head colds.
In a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon ground black pepper to 1 cup milk along with a pinch of turmeric powder. Bring to a boil, then allow to cool. Drink this once a day for three days.
Use for the common cold, cough, and sore throat.
Grind into a fine powder: raw sugar (4 parts), black pepper (2 parts), cardamom (2 parts), and cinnamon (1 part). Sieve and store the powder in an airtight container. Take 1 teaspoon three to four times a day with or without honey to taste. Keep this remedy on hand throughout spring.
Wild-Harvested Local Honey and Lemon Syrup
Use for allergies such as hay fever and to boost immunity.
Chop one lemon into slices. Place in an airtight jar with a 1-centimeter piece of fresh ginger and cover completely in local honey (local to build up immunity to pollen in your area). The lemon will dissolve over time to form a syrup. Store in the fridge for 2 to 3 months and take a spoonful every morning in a glass of warm water.
Note: Hay fever can be difficult to treat. Treatment is most effective when carried out a season prior to spring with a nasya treatment (nasal oil cleanse). As spring is already upon us, simply use your little finger to place a small amount of oil inside your nostrils to stop allergens from entering your system.
This article is provided for your information only. It is not intended as a substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care professional.
Lorraine Ferrier is an ayurvedic practitioner, natural fertility expert, and creator of the Fertility Joy Program.