The smoke in the valley over most of the summer and now into fall is eerie to me. I know that natural cycles bring some years that have more burning, but waking up expecting to see smoke has become my usual perception, and that means I expect to see a lot more people with sinus issues in my clinic.
Go figure, I have.
All the smoke is on top of a fall allergy season that comes for some as intensely as spring. I imagine those of you who suffer feel no relief with the gorgeous fall colors once again revealing themselves as the summer green passes. But rather than condolences, I'd like to offer you some practical and effective treatments to make free-breathing lungs and clear, vibrant eyes the norm. That includes relief for asthma, which can be a scary and difficult health problem for many this time of year.
First, a bit on asthma and its connection to our emotions. Having just had this conversation today with Dr. Devi Malhotra, LAc, OMD (Fla.), she was instructing me that in the classical tradition of Chinese medicine, the primary emotion associated with the lungs is grief. From this Chinese perspective, asthma has at its root a significant emotional disturbance, trauma or grief process that begins at the time of its onset.
I witnessed this in a patient back when I was in medical school. This particular patient came into our naturopathic clinic seeking relief for a chronic cough of three months duration. At the end of the first visit, I put her on a classic combination of herbs, gave her sound nutritional advice, some supplemental suggestions, and asked her to come back in two weeks. When she came back, she was slightly improved, but not to the degree that I had wanted (or expected). So I adjusted her plan and sent her off again for another two weeks, having her return the next time with no improvement.
It was not until I asked her about any grief that she was experiencing, that she admitted to being the sole caregiver for her mother, who was dying of late-stage breast cancer. When we began to address her emotional issues with special techniques that I do in my practice these days, such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), she finally experienced a breakthrough with complete relief of her cough, as she was better able to deal with the grief of a very ill mother.
As for asthma and allergies alike, here are basics to help you through this fall season:
1. Drink water, working towards half your body weight in ounces/day.
2. Try to minimize your exposure to mold, dust, chemicals or any known allergies.
3. Buy a HEPA filter.
4. Do regular saline sinus rinses with a neti lota pot when the allergies are at their worst.
5. Eat bioflavonoids in brightly-colored fruits and veggies to reduce the histamine response.
6. Use garlic, onion, horseradish, thyme and spicy foods freely. These volatile oils can clear blocked sinuses.
7. Add supplements as needed - homeopathic allergy formulas, vitamin C, bromelain, quercetin, fish oil, flax seed oil or other omega-3 sources.
8. Use a quality probiotic to re-establish good gut bacteria containing helpful bacteria such as bifidobacterium, acidophilus, or lactobacillus, at 20-24 billions organisms/day for an adult.
9. If food allergies are an issue, try half to 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar before meals. Sometimes a little maple syrup helps.
10. Do a fall internal cleanse to reduce your entire body burden. I design tailored cleanses to refresh and renew your entire being.
11. Consider seeing your acupuncturist. There are good techniques to reduce your allergic response.
The bottom line is that natural medicines can offer effective and very safe relief for asthma and the annoying fall allergy season. Many people who do these steps regularly find that they do not even need medications. There is a world of beauty out there in western Colorado, so take care of yourself so that you can enjoy these gorgeous fall colors.
Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.