Respiratory Health & Ayurveda
Moving from the Vata season to the Kapha season can trigger respiratory issues in general.
We have moved from the time of heightened air + space – the Vata season and have moved into the season of heightened water + earth – the Kapha season.
What we also need to take into consideration is that despite what the calendar says the season may not have completely shifted and in many parts of the northern hemisphere it is still cold and still has many of the Vata qualities present. That being said we are in this “inter-season” stage and as a result are experiencing the effects of 4 main elements at the same time and in a very strong fashion – Air + Space + Earth + Water. The combination of these 4 elements have a deep effect on the respiratory system and as a result the immune system.
But taking it a step back, from an Ayurvedic perspective, in addition to all of these external conditions we have to go back to the core, literally, and that is our Agni – our digestive fire – and assess what condition that is in. Gut health is linked to the immunity and as a result our respiratory health – close neighbors and a domino effect.
As an example, during this inter-season, allergies and asthma become a very dominant concern and we are now seeing this brightly in light of the current Covid19 pandemic. It’s all respiratory.
Ayurveda looks at it dis-ease from what is known as Satmya and Asatmya – the dosha, or our constitution’s ability, to tolerate or not tolerate medicine (in all of its forms), dietary and environmental changes. This starts with the gut. Agni, maintains our natural resistance and immunity by producing balanced Ojas (mojo/immunity itself), Tejas (our solar energy / heat) and Prana (life -force) which destroy or neutralize any invaders.
Each of the layers of tissues in the body known as the dhatus has their own agni so if it is indeed low, compromised or not functioning optimally, the tissues are compromised and cause, as in this example, respiratory reactions.
When a bacteria, virus or toxic substance invades the tissues the three energies I mentioned – Ojas, Tejas and Prana move to the affected area and address it by destroying the bacteria, virus or toxicity or neutralizing it with the help of Agni. However, if Agni is compromised then their ability to do their job is limited. Prana, life force, promotes the secretion of Ojas and Tejas into the cells to heal but if that environment is already compromised it will have little effect.
Similarly, with conditions such as asthma and respiratory compromises, the Samprapthi or pathogenesis starts in the stomach as well. In this case the sub-dosha of Kapha, Kledeka, which is responsible for the moisture in the stomach lining that helps us break down our food, undergoes a compromise and eventually spreads to the lungs – hence we get fluid in the lungs and it narrows the bronchial passages causing compromised respiration.
So what can we do?
- Gut health – Triphala, Ali-Balance (alma, licorice root, cove and ginger).
- Respiratory herbs- Amalaki, Bibhataki, Haritki (just like Triphala), licorice, pippali, Trikatu (ginger, black pepper, long pepper), Tulsi (holy basil).
- Immune Boosting: ashwagandha, alma, ginger, licorice, brahmi/gotu kola, immunity formulas.
- Avoid heavy, dense foods such as meat and cheese.
- Avoid fatty, fried foods.
- Eliminate dairy.
- Sip hot water with lemon and honey with meals and throughout the day.
- Include warm digestive spices in your diet such as ginger, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper.
- Do not overeat or drink in excess.
- Have your mid-day meal be the largest, eating a lighter breakfast and dinner.
- Nasya oil—lubricates the nasal passages and supports un-congested breathing
- Neti pot—removes mucus and pollution from the nasal passages
- Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayam practices that calm the nervous system and ground the mind, body and spirit.