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Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla
Raksha Ayurvedalaya: The Family Wellness Center

Food Allergy and Ayurvedic Treatment

Allergy is a condition present in certain individuals that can be described as a chemical “idiosyncrasy.” Its manifestations such as swelling and itching and bodily discomfort, are often brought about by a particular article of food, the most common being fish, eggs, milk and wheat. If, for example, after a meal all the partakers fall ill something was probably wrong with the food; but if only one person becomes ill then that individual is probably allergic.

Allergy is caused by that ‘antigen’ which is something unfamiliar to the body. Ayurveda has a general term for all kinds of such antigenic material—aama. Every piece of improperly digested food that is absorbed into the system is aama. Antibodies are special proteins created by some of the white blood cells against specific antigens. The antibodies bind tightly to the antigens, and if the immune system is healthy, this antibody-antigen complex is swept away from the body.

The body immune system can identify the source of each sort of aama: cheese, pork, peanut and so on. When one is exposed over and over again to the same aama, more and more antibodies are produced. If you know that you do not digest eggs well, and yet you regularly consume them, these imperfectly digested eggs persistently form aama. In due time an egg-like aama accumulates in you so that whenever an egg touches your tongue your immune mechanism gets alerted, assuming that it too will be improperly digested. This reaction is so striking that you are made aware of it by some bodily or mental symptom caused as a side effect of the internal conflict.

Humans can become allergic to almost anything. One source has estimated that 30 per cent of the Indian populace has some degree of food allergy. Some people are allergic to mould, others to hydrocarbons and petrochemicals, still others to cat or dog hair and some when they are exposed to sudden cold. There is even a condition called exercise-induced anaphylaxis in which strenuous exertion produces an allergic reaction which can be life threatening. This, like the allergy to cold, is probably due to the toxic state of the body, and not to a specific allergy to aerobics. The sudden stress of the activity causes toxins to be mobilised from their tissue storage sites and flood the circulation.

Allergies occur in excessively sensitive bodies. While specific allergies may respond to specific desensitisation techniques, management of the allergic state involves reducing the hypersensitivity. Vaata and pitta are the principal doshas involved in allergy, because it is their mutual intensity which oversensitises the body.

Allergies can be of many different types. Some only occur if you take the allergen often adequately, since otherwise antibody levels never build up high enough to induce an obvious reaction. Others occur every time you consume a substance. The most entrapping are the addictive allergies. As long as you take the substance you are allergic to, you feel fine; as soon as you quit, you start feeling withdrawal symptoms.

This can be tested by examining your cravings carefully. Suppose you like to eat fish. If you crave it only occasionally, and feel satisfied after a small piece, your body probably produced that craving in with the help of some factor, which is found in fish.

If, however, you have to have fish and then suddenly experience an almost uncontrollable craving to consume all the fish in the container, then you are very likely to have an addictive allergy to the fish. All addictions, even to the most fatal drugs, probably become allergic in nature with time.

The allergic tendency develops early in life, and is highly influenced by prakriti. Vaata and Pitta types are much more commonly affected by allergy than are kapha types. Moreover, after pregnancy when the child is growing in the womb, the mother gives some of her immune protection to her foetus across the placenta in the form of antibodies. If she is too much toxic, she may send too many antibodies, or she may even transmit antigens of her blood to her foetus. Immune reactions may be established in the baby’s body even before birth. After birth, the mother’s breast milk is supposed to provide passive immunity to the child. If it also carries antigenic material to the body, or if the child is not breast-fed long enough, its immunity will suffer.

The nature of the allergens, to which you are exposed, is also important. For example, allergy to alcohol, which probably influences the development of both hangovers and alcoholism, may actually begin as allergy to the substance used in the fermentation process. Likewise, milk allergy may develop from lactose intolerance, or it may begin as allergy to the penicillin, which is given to the cows or buffaloes against some disease and then progress to allergy to the milk itself. In the same way mass-produced chickens are fed with different drugs, all of which might irritate the body against the chickens.

Just as aama created from improper digestion of food can disturb the alertness and agitate the emotions, disturbed emotions can undermine the digestion and create aama, which then incites the immune system to react against it. The continuous presence of aama in the system creates a condition of permanent immune alert called allergy.

Seeta pitta is the Ayurvedic term for allergic hives. It is known that anything, antagonistic to one’s nature, may cause allergy.

In Ayurveda, the term Saatmya denotes anti-allergy and Asaatmya denotes allergy. Ayurvedic approach to allergy is to convert Asaatmya nature to saatmya nature. This includes both purification and pacification therapies.

Therapeutic Principles

1. Lightening therapies (Langhana chikitsas) to counteract aama.

2. Usage of therapeutic oils, both externally and internally (Snehana).

3. Subjecting to fomentation (Svedana).

4. Five Eliminative Therapies (Panchakarmas) and

5. Pacification therapies. (Samana chikitsas).


As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.



Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla, M.D. (Ayurveda)
Plot No. 13, H.No: 16-2-67/13,
Ramamurthy Nagar (CBCID Colony),
Landmark: Kukatpally Area, Metro Train Pillar No. MYP 29.
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