What is Allergy?
When a person’s immune system reacts into overdrive to eliminate the perceived illness in his system where actually there are none. Person’s body when in contact with the allergen which is harmless to most people reacts by shutting down the bodily functions and boosts hormone production to fight the faux illness causing shortness of breath, irregular breathing, wheezing or fever, rashes, runny nose, blocked sinuses, sneezing, itchy watery eyes etc.
What are the causes of an allergy?
According to Ayurveda genetics or persons family history is the primary cause followed by a weak agni (digestive fire), person’s vikruthi (imbalance of the body constitution) and Ama (indigested food which turns toxic). The accumulation of toxins and low immunity or other chemical additives in food intake which in turn are lodged in the respiratory tissue, skin and other sensitive tissues may also cause allergies. Ayurveda also believes allergy is mostly due to the body’s weakened Vata and heaviness in Kapha.
Spring is believed to be kapha season and fall is supposed to be pitta season. If a person’s shrotas or micro channels which carry nutrient fluids to the cells and carry water away from the cells are blocked or clogged, then the immune system is slowed down or broken. It is best described as the siege of immune system or pranavahi shrotas.
What are the types of allergies?
According to Ayurveda there are two types of allergies:
1) Person is born with a specific genetic predisposition. Asaatmya influence or unsuitable influence by the allergen to the person where most people are not affected. Mostly allergy along with asthma happens to these types. By taking the pulse of the person or nadivigyan the imbalance can be found.
2) Seasonal reactions or sensitivity to the seasons which the person acquires later in life.
Based on the mode of trigger the types can be also be divided into
1) Inhaled – like pollen, dust particles etc
2) Injected – like chemicals found in food, drugs etc
3) Contact – like pets, chemicals etc
Where to find the symptoms of allergy?
1) Skin- signs of allergy found on skin are rashes, roughness, irritation or itching, discoloration etc.
2) Lungs- This causes respiratory issues like wheezing, shortness of breath, blocked sinuses, sneezing etc
3) Intestines- Mainly due to the Amavisha or indigested food which results in accumulation of toxins which causes vomiting, watery stools, rashes etc.
How to identify the allergen?
According to the allergen, the allergy is identified. That means: -
- if it is genetical, a thorough study of the family history can uproot the allergen or
- if it is seasonal, the season in which it affects can be studied to obtain the allergen
- Food allergen can be identified by elimination test or taking a combination of food and avoiding one after the other in the combination,
- then there are the skin tests that are conducted by placing a small drop of various allergens on a patch of skin and either prick the skin or inject in the subdermal layers. If it is allergic the skin will be red and puffy or inflamed in that area, the area may be in fore arm or back.
- doing a blood test also can identify the allergen. Blood test reveal the antibodies that the immune system releases in the blood to combat the faux disease. Some less sensitive allergens are found by using patches containing high concentration of suspended allergen and these are put next to the skin for long duration of time.
A person’s body type and the dosha imbalance also determines the type of treatments for allergy.
What determines the sensitivity of allergens?
1) Symptoms after intake of food
2) Time gap of affectation
3) Recurrence rate
4) Treatments undertaken till date
5) Medical history- family history, diet, home or living conditions, environment etc.
Allergy treatment in Ayurveda
Ayurveda concentrates on removing the pitta and kapha in the body first by giving internal medicines to purge the body and putting them on strict holistic diet. Then the medical practitioners tend to use methods like panchakarma, body massages etc to boost the body’s immune system and inject some Ojas (strength) into the person. Nasal passage is strengthened by using Nasya. Yoga is also practiced regularly. For strengthening breathing and lung capacities exercises and/or pranayama, body stretches etc are advised.
Duration and Cost of allergy treatment in Ayurveda:
A comprehensive and effective allergy treatment in Ayurveda would be for a duration of 14 -21 days in a hospital and cost of this treatment would be in the range of 900 to 2800 USD