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She brings her extensive operative experience to San Francisco ENT Allergy, having completed over 3, ear, nose and throat and facial cosmetic surgical procedures. Noud has taught many medical students and resident physicians to perform aesthetic and reconstructive surgical procedures. The " Stuffy Nose " or nasal congestion is caused by a wide array of disorders.
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Food allergy can result in a variety of nasal, skin and stomach problems. As importantly, these effective methods can be a guiding light towards understanding a healthful lifestyle. From the point of view of trained Ayurvedic physicians, many of the sinus problems experienced today have their root in the digestive system, especially the stomach and upper small intestine, which directly receives partially-digested food from the stomach. That is to say, the nasal irritants, the immune system disturbances, and other contributors to sinus problems that we can identify, are producing frequent symptoms—some of them quite serious—because of an underlying digestive disorder in many instances.
This digestive problem is described more specifically as a weakness in the digestive fire; in Ayurvedic terminology 3 , the problem is manda agni : dampened ability to transform and metabolize. Agni is one of the five elements bhutas that combine to form the physical realm and the human body: agni is the fire element.
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Within the body there are many metabolic processes, or agni , and the one that is particularly of concern here is called the jathar agni , or the metabolic processes of the stomach and upper small intestine. From the modern scientific viewpoint, one might describe the hydrochloric acid and other digestive substances in the stomach, as well as the enzymes fed into the jejunum upper small intestine by the pancreas, as the essential components of digestive capability.
The insufficient activity of these digestive fluids corresponds, roughly, to manda agni. Why is this a problem in relation to the sinuses? Because the food is not as quickly and as thoroughly digested as it should be, leading to production of byproducts that affect the sinuses. According to the traditional understanding, ingested food becomes divided into two portions: one is pure aharaprasada and is the one that is used to nourish the body, while the other is the refuse mala , that which remains after the pure portion is drawn off.
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The result of inadequate digestive fire is that some of the substances that should be separated and removed from the food end up accumulating. This material, called ama , is unusable for normal physiological processes. These substances contribute to an increase in phlegm.
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In the Ayurvedic system of diagnosis and classification of imbalances, phlegm is the substance associated with one of three transporting systems, or humors, called doshas : kapha , pitta , and vata see : Basics of Ayurvedic physiology. Kapha is the transporting system for certain fluids other than blood , collectively called phlegm. These fluids are critical to maintaining health.
The normal mucus lining all of the membranes of the body is protective, lubricating, and cleansing. It could be said that because of the weakened agni of the digestive system, kapha has an overabundance of fluid, including some fluid that is of undesirable nature. An overabundance is an imbalance and is unhealthy: the body needs to get rid of it, but the secretion mechanisms for ridding excess can eventually be overwhelmed.
The fluid has several potential sites for accumulation. The reason that it accumulates in the sinuses for some people but elsewhere for others is because there is a disturbance there. That disturbance could be the irritation from ragweed pollen, cigarette smoke, or other compounds; it could be from the lack of normal movement of air and mucus due to inadequate exercise; it could be because of the effect of emotions on the respiratory system.
Such causes are the immediate disease-inducing factors, known to Ayurvedic physicians as nidanas. Kapha is described as the dosha of phlegm, which is a combination of the water and earth elements water contributes the fluid quality, earth the murkiness and thickness.
The accumulation of phlegm in the sinus area disturbs another of the three transporting systems: vata.
Vata is the dosha of air. The lungs and sinuses are directly involved in transport of air, and they regulate the prahna vata air vata ; there are other aspects of vata that affect the body and are regulated elsewhere. The prahna vata becomes agitated by the obstruction of phlegm, as it is unable to maintain smooth flow it is said to be vitiated. When there is a disturbance, the smooth flow is transformed into an agitated flow, like the wind.
Vata is derived from the air and ether elements air is the substance, and ether is the space through which the air flows to yield its fundamental characteristic: movement. The third transporting system, or dosha , is called pitta , and this is the transporter of metabolic nutrients and the energy of metabolism. One aspect of pitta , called pachak pitta , corresponds to digestive fire.
Pitta is described as the dosha of fire.
In many cases of sinus problems, there is a weakness or deficiency in pitta as it manifests in the agni of digestion , an excess in kapha as it manifests in mucus , and a disturbance of vata as it manifests in the breath. Thus, all three doshas are imbalanced and contribute to the sinus disorder that is experienced.
Over time, if the accumulation of phlegm and disruption of air flow continues, it distorts the entire tissue structure of the face. Muscles become tense, nerves become pinched, and even the bone structure becomes compressed: one experiences tightness and pain.
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From the viewpoint of Ayurveda, this is because the disturbance of the doshas has led to a distress of the dhatus : the structural components of the body. There are seven dhatus recognized by traditional practitioners, including the mamsa dhatu muscle , the majja dhatu nerves , and the ashti dhatu bone. It is suggested that the distortion of facial structures by chronic sinus problems, in addition to maintaining the sinus congestion, can lead to weakening of vision, premature greying of hair, and wrinkling of the skin. An important step in remedying the chronic sinus disorder is external oeliation, or, more simply, oil massage 4.
This massage will soften the structures dhatus that have been distorted by the imbalanced transporters doshas. Head massage champi is considered very important in the Ayurvedic system and it is used to prevent kapha from accumulating in the head among other things, used for common cold, sinusitis, and headaches.
For sinus disorders, the massage is carried out by applying a medicated oil. Oils in general, and sesame oil in particular, have the ability to calm the agitated vata dosha.
That is because the qualities of this oil counter the qualities of vata. In fact, oil massage is sometimes called snehana , which means to apply oil to control vata. Vata is described as having the qualities among others of lightness, coldness, irregularity, and dryness.
By contrast, the sesame oil is heavy, warming, smooth, and, of course, oily; thus, it counteracts the excessive impact of vata characteristics when the vata is disturbed. Facial massage with oil alleviates the accumulation of kapha and calms the vata. Medicated oil, such as narayan oil or mahanarayan oil, enhances the influence of the massage.
The herbs in mahanarayan oil of which there are about 50 and narayan oil which has a smaller number of the herbs are selected to help soften the obstructions distortions of the dhatus that occur from long-term dosha imbalances. The main ingredient of the narayan oils is shatavari Asparagus racemosus. The oil is also used topically to treat rheumatism, stiff neck, hemiplegia, and various nervous system disorders. Mahanarayan oil is selected for the massage treatment when the sinus blockage is extreme; narayan oil is otherwise selected.
For maximum effectiveness, the oil is applied warm which is more comfortable, more fluid, and more able to transport the herb ingredients into the skin than cold oil to specific points on the face that are the key areas of circulation. These points, called marma points, have been described in the early Ayurvedic literature. They are much like the acupuncture points of Chinese traditional medicine, and, in fact, one can massage both the Indian marma points and Chinese acupoints with good effect.
Marma points are juncture points 4, 5 , rather than points along meridians as found in Chinese medicine. There are a total of critical marma points on the body, divided into five groups: muscle 11 points , vessels 41 points , ligaments 27 points , bones 8 points , and vulnerable joints 20 points. There are 11 points on each leg and each arm total of 44 , 12 in the region of the chest and abdomen, 14 on the back, and 37 in the region of the neck and head.
These points are valuable treatment sites, and, according to traditional understanding, if the junctures are physically damaged it can have significant negative health impact—in some cases, causing death. As has occurred with Chinese acupuncture points, the basic set has been expanded by some practitioners; some, such as Frank Ross 6 , have advocated a complete combining and integration of the Chinese and Ayurvedic points.