Spring is right around the corner and the weather is lovely. My yard is full of beautiful blossoms. This creates pleasing aesthetics and, for the unlucky, allergies. I’m going to focus on resolving allergies this month. El Niño weather patterns in the past have caused allergies to be worse. The increase in moisture creates more mold allergies. Warmer weather causes trees to bloom earlier. With all the needed rainfall we got, there is plenty of water to make the blossoms bloom. Common allergy symptoms may include runny nose, sore or itchy throat, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes and skin.
Seasonal Advice I suggest embracing nasal irrigation (aka the neti pot). This means flushing warm water, with a little bit of baking soda and salt, up one nostril and out the other. The research behind nasal irrigation is solid. Surgeons recommend it for patients who've undergone sinus surgery, to flush crusting from the nasal passages. Many people who have sinus symptoms from allergies and environmental irritants also use the neti pot. It reduces congestion, facial pain, and pressure. Here’s how the neti pot works: it thins out mucus and helps flush it from of the nasal passages. Cilia (tiny, hair-like filaments) line the inside of the nasal and sinus cavities. These cilia wave back and forth to push mucus either to the back of the throat where it can be spit out or to the nose to be blown out. Saline solutions can help increase the speed and improve coordination of the cilia so that they more effectively remove the allergens that cause sinus problems.
Already use the neti pot and want even better results? Flush at least 1 cup of warm water, baking soda, and salt, and then do a great big snort. Yup, snort the fluid up your nose and spit out your mouth. This helps get further into your sinus cavity and flush your adenoids. With the correct balance of water, soda, and salt, it won’t burn. You can adjust the mixture until you find what works for you. Flush your nasal passages once or twice a day for 6 weeks, starting before your symptoms begin.
When treating a person with allergies, I’ll work a little bit locally on their face and a lot in their gut, where the root cause of the problem mostly starts. Allergies are an overactive immune system attacking a non-harmful substance, like pollen. By regulating your immune system, we reduce allergies. 70-80% of your immune system is in the lining of your gut. Also, per Chinese medicine, when the spleen is weak, dampness (mucus) accumulates. By strengthening your spleen and stomach, we reduce dampness. So you know, the congee from last month is a textbook Chinese medicine treatment for allergies and strengthening the spleen and stomach. Below is another recipe that is great at strengthening your gut. This recipe is modified from the blog Yin Yang Xue. I like their motto “If something is cold, heat it. If something is hot, cool it” in regards to medicine. For this meal, if you are a person who runs hot or struggles with heat, reduce the onion, curry, and red chili oil. You can add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots if you want to reduce more heat. If you are more of a cold type, load up on the spice. If you want to kick up the flavor, substitute some of the water with bone broth.
Recipe Vegatable Curry with Cardamon Rice Makes approximately 4 servings
3 medium carrots, sliced 2 handfuls of snow peas, sliced 4 small potatoes, quartered 1/2 white onion, sliced 1 bell pepper 1 14 oz can of coconut milk 2 cups water 1 oz fresh Thai basil, chopped 1 oz fresh parsley, chopped 1 tbsp green curry paste 1 tbsp red chili oil 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated 1 tbsp tumeric, grated 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp cumin
6 cardamon buds, crushed - white is preferred if you have it 1 piece of cinnamon bark 2 cups washed dried white rice 4 cups water
Place rice, cardamom, cinnamon bark, and water in medium pot. Bring to a boil then turn to simmer for ~15 minutes or until rice is done. Then pull the cinnamon stick out and discard it.
Combine coconut milk, water, curry paste, onion, ginger, carrots, potatoes, and chili oil in large sauce pan. Place on medium heat, bring to simmer for 10 minutes. Add snow peas, bell pepper, and dried seasonings. Cover and simmer for 10-15 more minutes, until potatoes are soft. Stir in parsley, basil, and lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes and serve over steamed rice.
Acu point Yin Tang 印堂 Name meaning: Hall of Impression Location: Midway between the medial ends of the eyebrows, above the nose Action: Calms the spirit, treats insomnia, anxiety, and stress. Reduce local wrinkles. Resolve forehead headache. Benefits the eyes and nose. Reduce nasal congestion and sinusitis. Useful point for building the energy in the head during qi gong.
Press on the point for 30 second intervals. Enough pressure to activate the point but not enough to bruise.
Exercise Strengthen Lung Qi In Chinese Medicine, the lungs govern respiration and the airways. Strengthening your lungs will promote healthy airways and reduce throat and nasal allergies. From a sitting position, inhale using your diaphragm until your abdomen is raised, then inhale a little bit more by pulling air into your chest. After inhaling as much as you can, hold your breath and count to five slowly. With practice, you’ll be able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or longer. Then open your mouth wide and make a soft “ha” sound as you exhale all the allergy or toxic energy from your mouth. Repeat the exercise for three breathing cycles each time.
Meditation Awakening Your Third Eye Sit comfortably and keep your spine straight with your eyes closed. Inhale and exhale deeply for three times. Then focus on the middle of your forehead a few centimeters above the acupuncture point Yin Tang. Breathe in and out of your third eye for 5-10 minutes. Notice what you notice.
Happy March, my friends. I hope everyone is breathing deep and clear! Dr. Heather Bird