Spring Allergy and Detox Remedies
This is part II in a series of living according to the seasons, which is an ancient Chinese principle for good health. Our lifestyle, activities and eating habits should naturally reflect the energies of each season.
Spring is a time of renewal and growth. In the winter months we talked about storage and hibernation, a time to recharge the batteries. Now that spring is upon us, it is time to begin stretching out and becoming more active again, and renewing ourselves.
Each new day has its springtime. Try getting up just before dawn, when the black night sky slowly turns to blue. The sun rises in the East, and the blue color of dawn opens to our eyes and we experience the new day. Spring is like this.
One of the first signs of spring is the maple syrup season. The sap of the trees begins to flow up from the roots of the tree, to the tips of the branches. This happens before the buds begin to show themselves. Only after the sap reaches to the top of the tree do the buds begin to show. Our energy is like this too. Our sap begins to flow in the early spring and our physiology begins to change gears, to welcome the spring season, which is supple and flows like the wind. The following poem is fitting to the season:
“The Spring Wind does not distinguish between high and low, it reaches everywhere. And the flowers and branches of plants and trees, themselves grow longer and shorter.”
—excerpt from The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
Beethoven’s Violin Sonata #5 in F, opus #24 “Spring” has this same feeling.
The fresh green color of newly sprouted leaves is the color associated with spring and the liver, so eat your greens! The slight bitter taste of fresh young greens activates the liver system. Asparagus is coming into season as are the fresh young onions, leeks and garlic. Ramps can be sautéed; they have a unique flavor, like the mix of fresh spring onions and leeks, they are wild and are more and more popular. For a sweeter taste, strawberries will soon be here.
Many of my patients ask me about doing spring detoxification regimens, and spring is a time that the body naturally cleanses itself and renews itself, just think spring cleaning! If one eats right, gets proper rest and exercise, the body will actually detox itself naturally. Since the liver is the organ system associated with springtime and it corresponds to the tendons and muscles, stretching or practicing yoga, is good to activate this energy. It also corresponds to the head and neck, and it is easy to get allergies, and stiff necks and headaches in the springtime. One should avoid catching cold especially around the head and neck to prevent stiff necks and headaches.
If you are an allergy sufferer, I recommend avoiding mucus producing foods, such as dairy, wheat, sugar, and cold raw foods and also taking a probiotic. This will help minimize allergy attacks in most people. For further guidance on this subject go to my website and check out the yeast free diet. If you follow it for about 6 weeks, you will lose a little unwanted winter weight, avoid the misery of allergy season and also detox naturally and be ready to bloom in the summer months. This diet cleans out the lymphatic system and calms down the immune system naturally. The neti pot sinus cleanse is also useful for spring allergies. If your symptoms are severe see an acupuncturist and/or a Chinese herbalist. They can also help with the stiff necks and headaches many people experience in the spring season.
The simplest, easiest ways to ensure that your spring is budding is to enjoy it. Get out into the sunshine for some exercise, and enjoy the nature around you.
Spring Detox Remedies
Licorice and mung bean do detox well, especially the mung bean, which is used to purge toxins in liver. Doing this kind of simple detox several times a week, one’s immune system will become much stronger and in so doing prevent one from getting the spring cold. The beans provide enzymes to the digestive system. This remedy can be done for a week, every other day.
Another way to do the same in food is to have cooked daikon. It can be prepared in several different kinds of dishes, mostly either the daikon soup with ginger (in the bone broth) or the braised mixed vegetable dish with boiled eggs (i.e., Daikon, gobo, konnyaku, carrot, bamboo shoot, potato, lotus root, etc.). We often cook the daikon without peeling the skin because the fiber helps with the detox process.
The best vegetables to have in the spring is green onion/scallion and leek. Both of them have a stronger medicinal effect in the spring than at other times of the year and can boost the liver function and enhance one’s energy level.
Licorice and Green Mung Bean Drink
Ginger and Scallion Soup
Spring Allergy Essential Oil Remedy
- German Chamomile – 14 drops
- Lavender – 6 drops
- Eucalyptus – 7 drops
- Mix with 10 ml of sweet almond oil.
Apply to chest, behind ears, the back of the neck and in the fleshy area on the acupuncture point between the thumb and forefinger. Use a small amount, apply 2 to 3 times per day.
In the Neti pot mix 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt with 1/4 tsp baking soda, add lukewarm water and stir. Rinse each nostril 3 to 5 times. I recommend letting the water flow straight back and spitting it out your mouth for first time users. Avoid using the Neti pot while you are sick, if you are a first time user. Also I recommend using it in the morning as opposed to before bed, as some people get a lot of sinus drainage after using the neti pot. The baking soda creates an alkaline environment which prevents bacterial overgrowth. If you experience burning, increase your Vitamin C consumption and reduce the amount of salt. The burning indicates that the tissues are inflamed and vitamin C will help to restore the tissue to a healthier state. The neti pot is better than nasal sprays, as it does not force liquid up into the sinus cavities. Forcing liquid with a spray can result in discomfort or even sinus infections, due to lack of proper drainage. It is more soothing to use water that is body temperature as opposed to room temperature. Also with the neti pot, you should be assured of the quality of the salt and baking soda. Bob’s Red Mill has an organic baking soda available, and various sea salts and kosher salts are available at finer grocers. It is safe to use daily, if you feel relief. Twice a day is also OK, but avoid before bed if you experience a lot of drainage.
Adele Reising is an acupuncturist and herbalist with her own practice in NYC since 1999. She is both a practitioner and a scholar, studying the ancient medical texts and their wisdom in the native Chinese language. She is the former chair of herbal medicine at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.