Sometimes a tiny particle can reduce a fully functional individual to a sneezing, sniffling, teary-eyed mess within minutes. Allergic rhinitis is the collective name for symptoms that arise when an otherwise harmless allergen (such as dust, pollen, mould, or even cold air) elicits an over-the-top immune response: nasal passages swell and run like a tap, eyes and nose itch like crazy, and the sneezes just keep on coming.
Some allergies are life-threatening, like those to peanuts and bee-stings. Allergic rhinitis is more of a nuisance than a serious health concern, although it can lead to more severe health conditions, like sinusitis and asthma, if left untreated.
Here are some totkas to alleviate your allergy symptoms.
Indian gooseberry (Amla): Indian gooseberry is hugely beneficial for hair and skin and an excellent anti-allergy food. It can be taken raw, pickled, or made into a jam as follows:
Cook 250g amla in 5 tbsp water.
Chop into small pieces. Discard the seeds, keep the water.
Measure the chopped amla in cups and add the same amount of sugar (use more or less, according to your taste).
Cook in a nonstick pan until you have the desired consistency, and the sugar has melted.
Remove from heat, add some powdered cardamom (choti elaichi), which also has anti-allergenic properties, and mix well.
Cool and store in a glass jar.
Taking raw amla with honey also reduce allergies.
Coconut oil: Heat half a cup of coconut oil, five whole black peppers and two big cloves of garlic over a low flame until the garlic is burnt. Strain and store. Put two drops of this oil in each nostril before going to bed. It will create a protective film to trap and block irritants from entering the nasal passage.
Take steam from boiling water with a tablespoon of coconut oil in it. This will help coat the insides of your nose and it’s great for the skin too.
Spicy Chai: Turn regular tea into an allergy fighting concoction by adding some chopped ginger, two whole black peppers, one clove (laung), a pinch to cinnamon (darchini) powder and one cardamom. The same can be done with green tea and black coffee.
Grind 1 tsp black pepper with 8 tsp crystal sugar (misri). Take a teaspoon of this mixture first thing in the morning with two glasses of water. Do not eat for 30 minutes after taking this mixture. This gives great results if done regularly for a couple of weeks.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C blocks the inflammatory immune response in allergic rhinitis. Take about 2000mg daily. Good food sources include oranges, guava, strawberries, red and green peppers and tomatoes.
Turmeric (Haldi): Haldi has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Take turmeric milk every evening before going to bed, especially during allergy season. Boil one cup milk with ½ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp crushed ginger, two black peppers and a pinch of powdered cinnamon. Simmer for ten minutes. Add honey to sweeten (optional) and enjoy warm.
This is a great comfort food, like hot chocolate, but much healthier.
To make turmeric kahwa, boil one cup of water, add ¼ tbsp of turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon and honey to taste, and enjoy.
Garlic: Garlic also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is helpful for allergy relief. Make a garlic spread with 1/2 cup olive oil, ½ tsp crushed carom seeds (ajwain), ¼ tsp crushed red pepper, three to four large cloves of crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on toasted bread, crackers, rusk and even roti or naan for a tasty, healthy snack.
Nasal irrigation: Mix one tsp un-iodised salt and one tsp baking soda, in two cups warm water. Pour the liquid into a nasal aspirator and squirt the saline solution into one nostril; it will come out the other side and help flush out and disinfect the nasal passage. Blow your nose in between flushes. For young children who can’t blow their nose, put a couple of drops into each nostril, wait a minute, and then suction out the mucus with a nasal aspirator, or bulb syringe.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 16th, 2011.
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