With spring in the air, it is finally time to spend more of our days outside in the warm rays of sunshine and blossoming flora. For the majority, it is also time to head to the local pharmacy and stock up on allergy medications. While allergy medications can be helpful in decreasing the production of mucus, antihistamines can actually damage the tissues. If you would like to take a more natural path to clear those sinuses, there are many other organic ways to build up immunity and reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
Nutritionally, when there is blockage of the nasal passages or air constriction, you should try to avoid dense and processed foods. The best thing for your body on any given day, but especially if your allergies are acting up, is organic foods. When experiencing allergy symptoms, reach for foods that are high in citric acid and vitamin c. These foods will help boost your immunity, reduce histamine responses and break up mucus in the nose and throat. Also fill your diet with lots of anti-inflammatory foods or supplements such as fish oil or anything packed with omega-3s. If you still have a hankering for something sweet, avoid things like ice cream or any dairy based product. These will create more mucus and encourage flare-ups. Instead, pull out your favorite fruits and honey. Grilled peaches with cinnamon drizzled with honey is one of my favorites! You can even sprinkle on a little bit of bee pollen packed with important fatty acids and natural hormones to give your allergies a real kick in the pants.
For those of you with chronic sinus issues, it is hard to maintain a healthy immune system through strict diet. Fortunately, it is easy to do a ten-minute breath practice to reduce the effects of sinus infections and allergies. During flare-ups, you may often feel like a fish out of water- unable to breath, trapped and exhausted. This also affects your energy and emotions. A pranayama (breath) practice called alternate nostril breathing can help restore energetic balance and serve as a decongestant for those with allergies or chronic sinus infections. The breath practice goes as follows:
Alternate nostril breathing
-Begin by finding your breath and noticing how you feel. Try to address what is constricted in your body emotionally and physically.
-Slowly lengthen the breath by a second or two with each cycle. Once you have found a comfortable breath to carry throughout your pranayama practice, place your pointer finger and thumb above each nostril and lightly pinch the bridge of your nose. At this point, you can play with your finger placement so you can still comfortably inhale and exhale, but there should still be enough pressure to slow and narrow the airflow.
-When you are ready, inhale and press your thumb down to completely constrict the airflow of one nostril while lightly pressing on the opposite side with your pointer finger.
-On the exhale press down to completely block airflow with your pointer finger and lightly take the thumb off of the opposite nostril to that place of narrow, yet unblocked airflow. Take a full exhale and inhale on this side, then alternate nostrils.
– Continue alternating nostrils after a full cycle of breath for about twelve cycles then take all the pressure off your nose and begin to breath normally. Let yourself go through a few breath cycles to ramp down and bring your breath back to its new normal.
Enjoy the beautiful weather to come. Open up the windows or walk outside to let the fresh air fill up your mind and body. If, like many of us, this also causes your nasal passages to become blocked up and your energy lower, remember that there are always options beyond medications. Instead of popping a pill, pop an orange in your mouth. Bask in the warmth of the sun and bring your breath practice outside to find a better balance within yourself and nature.