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Naturopathic Approaches to Spring

March 14, 2012

Springtime

Hay fever or spring fever?

It’s here – evident all around; baby lambs, buds on trees, crocuses in bloom, an intoxicating scent in the air. Do you feel the stirrings of spring? Are you enjoying the smells, colours, tastes, a gentle spurt of energy or do you want to wish away the next few weeks or months ….

As this cycle emerges, so may symptoms –physical complaints that occur at this time of year. Spring colds, skin complaints and of course the most common – hay fever.

If this feels familiar there’s still time to take measures to make a difference as early tree pollens that cause  hay fever  aren’t due in some areas for 1-3 weeks.

Perhaps you were thinking about a cleanse or detox in January and it didn’t feel like the right season to start-well done, because now is the ideal time. The energy of spring supports our bodies’ elimination particularly the major detoxification organ-liver. However, if the thought of a detox  feels like too much, think of it more as a  nuturing and supportive regime. .

My understanding of this is that if the body is overburdened in some way, it uses back-up means to cleanse itself, which creates a stress on the body. It is most certainly the case if this is a regular seasonal occurrence. Colds, hay fever symptoms and skin conditions are all eliminative processes. If our skin, lungs, kidneys and digestion are working at their best capacity as organs of elimination, it is possible to reduce or prevent these signs. In fact, these symptomatic pointers are flagging up something that requires attention-a message from the body which is difficult to ignore when we have an itchy rash, weepy eyes or a runny nose.

A menu of ways to help….support the body’s cleansing capacity     

1. Clean up the diet

Decreasing sugar, alcohol, caffeine, salt, fried and processed foods reduces the burden on

the body’s eliminative organs thus helping them to be more efficient. Decreasing sugar, dairy and fat may be particularly helpful with hay fever symptoms.

2. Increase green vegetables

The chlorophyll in greens is helpful for cleansing and immunity.The darker the leaf the more magnesium a plant contains-essential for our immune systems. Of course include other coloured vegetables and fruits. Orange/yellow plant foods contain beta carotene which converts to vitamin A and supports the mucous membranes of the nose,throat and lungs. Red peppers and berries contain vitamin C and bioflavinoids. Have them lightly cooked as well as raw.

3. Drink water, lemon in water, herbal teas, dandelion coffee, fresh vegetable juices or green smoothies.

These aid cleansing by supporting the organs of elimination and do not stress the body the way sugary drinks and caffeine do.  Nettle tea is an excellent cleansing and immune support. Green smoothies, made from green leaves and fruit are not only tasty but beneficial.

There really isn’t a set amount as individual needs vary. Don’t forget fruits and vegetables are nmade up of water. Drink according to thirst and common sense.

4. Try to determine if certain foods are not suiting you then avoid them during your symptom season. A good clue is something that you regularly eat-perhaps daily.

These can increase catarrh, digestive problems, heat and inflammation. For example, cow dairy can increase hay fever symptoms for many people. The best way to test is to eliminate the food for about 10-14 days, re-introduce it and note affects (can be up to 3 days after).

5.  Dry skin brush before a bath or shower. Finish a shower or bath with alternating hot and cold water all over.

This supports the lymphatic system, helping with elimanation and immunity.

6. Exercise

Improves circulation, respiration, digestion and sweating. Using a mini trampoline

is great for the lymphatic system.

7.  Try a  sauna

Dry heat promotes sweating and elimination. Observe cautions with certain conditions

such as high blood pressure, etc.

8.   Spend time outdoors

If symptoms have not begun walk in nature (esp. by a body of  water (river, stream, sea)), soak up sunlight. Vitamin D from the sun is essential for immunity.  or using a non-petroleum jelly just inside the nostrils to catch pollen, esp.if going outdoors increases symptoms.

9. Other suggestions

As long as possible before hay fever symptoms begin try doing nasal inhalations with salt water, having small amounts of local honey, taking Vitamin C and Fish oils and following  suggestions 1-8 above.

Once symptoms begin it is difficult to stop them as this is an allergy response. However do try over the counter homeopathc hay fever remedies and tissue salts, Vitamin C,  Fish oils and Quercetin-a natural supplement that can be found in health food stores. Follow dietary recommendations 1-4.

Here is a springtime recipe based on the ever popular Spanokopita or spinach and feta pie, full of green leafy goodness.  A good way to start spring cleaning! Use a variety of different green leaves lin addition to  spinach such as chard, rocket, watercress, even a little sorrel or dandelion. Remember when they’re about 12 inches high nettles are ready to pick and make a super-food addition (use the top 4 leaves, pick in an unpolluted place, wearing gloves, cooking neutralises the sting).

see the recipe for Green Leaf Pie using the best of the season to provide nutrients and vitality for supporting the immune system

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