Spring is here! Your eyes are itchy, your nose is runny, you feel irritable - must be allergies right? Not necessarily!
In most cases during early spring, the seasonal change from the winter to spring tends to cause an excess heat condition internally drying out the eyes and sinuses resulting in allergy-like symptoms.
Your body needs to get use to generating more heat during the winter compared to the summer. This natural ability develops through the fall but as spring arrives, a warming trend develops and your body now has to reduce its heat production to maintain a balance in healthy body temperature.
Think of the body as a woodstove. To keep the house warm on a cold winter's day, say it's 4 degrees Celsius outside, you have to put a lot of wood in the woodstove to warm the house. The same thing happens with the body needing to crank out more heat in the winter.
Now, as spring arrives along with warmer days, say like 12-15 degrees Celsius, if you continue to put the same amount of wood into the woodstove you're going to over-heat the house. Again, the same with the body but the body is slow to change. As the body overheats in spring, body heat rises upward to the head and dries out the tender and moist tissue found on the eyes and in the sinuses leading to itchiness and irritation.
This excess heat also heats us up internally and makes us feel irritable, just as if you were in an excessively warm room and you felt uncomfortable. Your body takes time to change - slow and steady wins the race but here in Rhode Island the irregular weather patterns stress out our health.
This is less about allergies and more about seasonal change. All of a sudden, in early spring, people are coming into clinics exploding with allergy-like symptoms but where's the explosion of allergens? For example, where's the pollen? There are no large blooms in early spring unlike in late spring (June) when the oak trees release their greenish-yellow pollen covering everything in sight.
So what can we do? We need to clear heat in the body to bring balance to seasonal change as the days get warmer. This is tricky because the temps go up and down through spring.
Focus on Sleep and Diet
My suggestion is to focus on the fundamentals - sleep and diet and when things become acute, get some acupuncture and natural herbal medicine. Sleeping helps cool the body down and rejuvenate the body. Poor sleep needs to be addressed if you want to get to the root of the problem before running off to get some harsh drug to dry up your post nasal drip. Although, if you need a quick fix, there are all-natural herbal formulas like what I call in my clinic "nose pills", that can be gentler and very helpful. Acupuncture can also be helpful in clearing heat, relaxing the body and restoring balance naturally.
Eating more heat-clearing foods like salads and assorted fruits and veggies like apples, pears, cucumbers, asparagus, lettuce, and celery can clear heat. Also clear heat by avoiding long cooked and warming winter foods such as stews and roasts which energetically require a lot of heat to prepare. Long-cooked foods are very warming to the body and should be eaten less throughout spring and summer. Also cut down on starches and sources of sugar that can lead to inflammation and weight-gain. Eating less and losing a few pounds can also help.
It's interesting to note, in many cultures and traditions like during the time of Lent, that fasting is part of the tradition - fasting not only weighs less on your spirit but also has an uplifting effect on your energy that's very supportive to your health. There are different types of fasting and it's not good for everyone, so make sure you seek professional help before attempting major changes to your diet. Doing a detox or cleanse can make a big difference as well.