understanding & healing allergies.

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 This year, you will not sneeze.

In fact, this year it is possible that you will not just not sneeze, but that you are going to refuse to get knocked around by seasonal allergies entirely. There will be no tiredness, no congestion, no general irritation and frustration: you’re going to heal past this.

Of course, this is going to be a challenge. Like all other health problems allergies are far more complex than we often think they are, and require an equally complex and multifaceted process of healing, but, I promise you, it is entirely possible to remove this experience from your life entirely.  

Most of the time we don’t approach allergies from a systems-based, logical perspective at all. Conventional medical practice teaches us to just get rid of the symptoms, which only ends up making them worse in both the long and short term. Nutritional and functional understanding of allergies takes us a step further in healing, supporting metabolism and detoxification so that our immune systems react less intensely, and yet there’s still something massive missing.

If we are to find deep healing, we must address fully the elements of mind and spirit in allergies, as well as the effects already well explored within the body and environment. The spirit affects the mind and the mind affects the body, and so neglecting to include these two in understanding and treating imbalance is a little bit absurd, and will never work long term.

Working with mind, body, spirit and environment all at the same time is a wonderful experience, once you open yourself up to the possibility, as each area of focus supports and heals the rest. When we begin to really think about the whole system we exist as, everything just makes sense, and healing that happens from this place is faster, more comprehensive, and lasting.

Bringing soul and spirit into the picture also allows us to find power and meaning in healing. As Pema Chodron has said, “nothing leaves our lives until it has teaches us what we need to know”, and this is never more true than with physical challenges. Allergies are a great teacher, but it is only through investigating our spiritual and physical experience of them will we understand the evolutionary messages they portend.

Addressed from all angles, here is a comprehensive program and philosophy to help you stop the sneeze forever.

Physical

Individuals who have both seasonal and permanent allergies are often extremely sensitive (both physically and emotionally/energetically) and may have experienced considerable stress in childhood. Mind you, they might have had a fantastic childhood too, but have picked up on the general dysfunction and stress of the world, and this has been translated into challenges for their bodies.

Allergies are related on a physical level to the functioning of the immune system, which is directly linked to bone marrow production and the action of the endocrine system. When we are stressed this system becomes taxed, reducing the immunological response along with countless other essential physiological processes.

Supporting the adrenals is therefore key in healing, as is ensuring that the immune system has everything necessary in order to support cell production and activity. Adaptogens are a good place to start—Rhodiola and Siberian Ginseng are very good for this—as well as core nutrients necessary for immune function: zinc, vitamin A (cod liver is great), selenium, magnesium, and vitamin C for starters. Release-oriented physical activity like yoga along with exercise that makes you feel happy (not just esthetically pleased with your body) is very important.

Old trauma or ongoing stress results in not only the adrenals being taxed, but in reduced liver function and compromised detoxification. The entire body can be literally overrun with toxicity when we are expressing allergic symptoms, so reducing exposure to toxins while actively stimulating liver and kidney function is essential. Removing caffeine, alcohol, and foods that your body doesn’t like and replacing these with herbs such as dandelion (which arrive in spring right on time to help us out with this), burdock, Echinacea, chamomile and nettle will greatly assist this process.

Nettle is a great healer for anyone with allergies. It fortifies and nourishes the body with minerals and vitamins, stimulates increased detoxification, and has natural histamine-like compounds that can support our overactive system.

And lastly, when there is excess toxicity there is also considerable inflammation at the root of our physical imbalances, so other natural anti-inflammatories can also be wonderful in this process, such as turmeric, quercitin, rosemary and Oregon grape root.

Mental/Emotional

Allergies are an expression of ‘intolerance’, and though we normally think of this as occurring on a physical level only, this translates to a kind of intolerance in the mental and emotional capacities as well. This is the basis for what happens and is expressed within the body.

I mean this in a loving and compassionate way, but people with allergies tend to be very critical of themselves and others, a choice that is not intentionally malicious but comes from previous unresolved trauma and emotional sensitivity. Responding to this sensitivity or wounding by increasing our intolerance of other people (or by avoiding them or blaming them entirely) is completely useless in healing, and in life in general. But…we all know it’s really damn hard to let go of old hurts and just open ourselves up to the world again.

If you truly want to heal from your allergies, you will have to take a different stance on the things in life that piss you off. Instead of believing that the world has inherently annoying qualities that you can’t help but be irritated with, find curiosity in your experience of them so that you can see whether there might be some larger personal truth behind your response. We are only irritated with other people or situations when they embody parts of ourselves that we are either unable to express or have pain associated with, and the longer we focus on how they are affecting us, the harder it is for us to evolve past this.  

Sometimes we don’t need to find a larger quality or meaning in our allergies though (as far as how our view reflects our own internal challenges), but just to stop and ask ourselves how much of our daily experience is filled with complaints, judgments, and internally-created problems. Actively changing our mind so that it reflects a gratitude-filled perspective is necessary, and accomplished through meditation and appropriate positive affirmations. Your allergies will never go away until you are able to look out at the world and seek the goodness, not just the crappy parts. Homeopathic remedies such as Natrum Muriaticum and Arsenicum album can be very helpful in this process of ‘retraining’ ourselves to seek the positive, though working with a practitioner can help you choose the remedy appropriate for you.

Spiritual

This is the part where it gets a little trickier, and where each person’s experience of allergies will be very different.

Again, the founding belief in this healing process is that these allergies are not random or meaningless, but hold within them some key for our personal evolution. Depending on your particular belief system this will look different for everyone.

In shamanic and many other eastern traditions it is known that all things in earth carry a particular archetypal energy, and understanding and exploring the archetypes of the things or experiences that we are allergic to will give us strong clues as to what qualities we are needing to develop on a soul level.

For example, cats are associated with the mysterious feminine, and with creative and insightful (though passive) powers. People who are allergic to cats often have an issue with their own creativity, either having had it suppressed through inappropriate education at an early age, or through a general sensation of powerlessness in life. They will often resent the soft and feminine qualities in other people as well, and refuse to allow themselves to indulge in emotions.

Healing from an allergy to cats requires us to actively engage with our creative and emotional/feminine sides, which takes a different form for each person. Perhaps it would be time spent in nature ‘doing’ nothing, or exploring artistic endeavors. We might just need to find a good therapist where we would actually allow ourselves to cry a bit without judgment, too.  

Food intolerances and allergies tend to not have this much of a specific ‘meaning’ (good luck trying to figure out what it is about the archetype of wheat that spiritually challenges you, and please let me know if you figure it out), but are related to our experiences of personal boundaries, our ability to ‘digest’ our experience, and how well we let go of situations or memories that are not feeding our higher potential.

Community & Environment

If you live in a big city, you are exponentially more likely to have allergies. This is because of the level of toxicity and stress in city life, certainly, but on a more broad level is indicative of the relationship that mankind has with our environment, expressed in our bizarre lack of concern for the system that supports us.

You can contribute to your own healing and to that of the planet by engaging with nature in any capacity, either in the city or outside of it. Growing a garden (which exposes you to beneficial microbes that have also been found to modulate the immune response), taking hikes, or just dedicating a bit of time to cultivating awe and appreciation for the world around you will do this. To see the world with gratitude is key. It is not going out of its way to make you miserable in the springtime by sending out all that pollen, the world doesn’t operate like that. Responding to an uncomfortable environment with intolerance and frustration only further solidifies that experience of it, and you have to change your mindset if you are to come back into communion with your world.

Everyone’s path is different, everyone’s healing process equally so. I can’t say how long or how effective these practices will be for you, though I can guarantee that they will provide a form and possibility of healing that is light years beyond anything you will find in a Claritin box or even a raw food vegan diet.

As always, affirming that your life is supplying you with everything you need to wake up and live fully (allergies included) will engage larger spiritual processes and open you to the possibility of your experience. Allergies are not here to drive you crazy, and in fact might actually be a really ridiculous, sneezy, red-eyed path to freedom, should you choose to see them that way.