As spring dawns, many of us rejoice in longer, warmer days, spring blossoms, and the opportunity for more time spent outdoors. At the same time, it’s no secret that the pollens and grasses common in spring tend to aggravate allergies for many. Sneezing, congestion, watery or dry eyes, and even fatigue are common signs of seasonal allergies. Fortunately, Ayurveda offers time-tested methods for soothing allergies. One of those is regular cleansing and care of the nasal passages. As you may know by now, ghee and ghruta have numerous benefits; you can even use Ayurvedic ghee in your nose for sinus trouble! Before we get into the specifics of cleaning and caring for the nasal passages, let’s step back for a moment and think about the big picture of seasonal allergies. When you have allergies, be they respiratory or digestive, essentially your body is saying “I can’t digest this!” There are many ways in which one can develop allergies—the etiology is beyond the scope of this article. However, as is with pretty much any imbalance, Ayurveda always looks at the state of digestion. So, if you experience respiratory discomfort and allergies, assessing what’s going on with your gut is always a great place to start. Also, spring is Kapha season. So, your allergies particularly act up in spring, consider overall Kapha balancing diet and lifestyle practices. Similarly, if your allergies are worse in the fall, consider Vata-reducing foods and practices.
Rinsing with Water - Jal Neti
After taking into account the big picture of diet, lifestyle, and supportive herbs, you may be ready to try out some practices that target the nasal passages. Many people are familiar with nasal rinsing with a neti pot. This is called jal neti in Ayurveda, jal being water. This practice involves rinsing your nasal passages with warmed, purified saltwater. Just a touch of non-iodized salt is added to the water to match the salinity of your body. Jal neti, or nasal rinsing, is a lovely practice that is beneficial for many. It helps rinse away allergens and excess mucous and can lead to feelings of greater ease and clarity—in your head as well as in your nose.
Ghee for the Nose: Sinus Support
However, sometimes our nasal passages also ask for lubrication and tonification. This is where applying special oils and ghee in the nose can have benefits. It is important to distinguish between the pancha karma treatment nasya and the simple act of applying a drop or two of oil inside the nostrils. Naysa is a strong purification practice and should only be practiced or administered under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. On the other hand, one can reap benefits from simply applying a couple of drops of sesame oil, special herbal nasya oil, or ghee inside the nostrils. Why ghee in the nose you may ask?! Apply a touch of nourishing, ojas-building ghee inside the nostrils provides lubrication and helps prevent allergens, dust, and pollens from sticking to the nasal passages and then going further into the respiratory tract. Also, cleansing and lubricating the nasal passages has a direct effect on prana vayu. Some Ayurvedic companies make special herbally-infused oils and ghee meant for application to the nostrils. If you are curious about ghee in nose for sinus support, you can start with plain ghee or ghruta or check out a specially-made nasal oil with a ghee base.
How to Apply Ghee to Your Nose for Sinus
To apply ghee to your nose, gently warm the ghee so that it melts slightly and is neutral or slightly warm to the touch. Be sure the ghee is warmed in a clean vessel so as to avoid contamination. Then simply dab a bit on your finger and apply to each nasal passage. You can do this simple practice on its own or after jal neti. For more information on experiencing the practice of nasya, seek out your local Ayurvedic practitioner or Ayurvedic clinic.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.