The Lemon Mayhem

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

The COVID-19 pandemic brought home the point as to how important it was for each of us to have optimal levels of immunity. This, in more than ways than one, also engineered the ‘prompt,’ or clarion call, for most people to seeking all sorts of fancy ideas — a word from a friend, uncle, aunt, or neighbour, aside from the ubiquitous viral ‘free advice’ on WhatsApp, or YouTube, health videos, or whatever one believed in — to keeping up with their health and to beating the dreadful COVID-19 virus in the bud, as it were — without seeking professional guidance from their health advisors.

A case in point: a young man, in his late 20s, with his ‘new-found’ immune acumen, presented with a glut of health complaints. He had severe itching in the nose that would go off the handle with the gentlest of drafts, or water over the face. This was followed by a blocked, or runny nose that would last all day. He also had itchy bouts accompanied by raised, reddish, skin patches on the body, soon after exposure to the slightest pressure, viz., the band line of the facemask, helmet chinstrap, wrist watch, knee and elbow folds, a friendly pat on the back, or arm, or even a ‘sanitised’ handshake.

He had, as expected, consulted conventional physicians. They had prescribed him antihistamines. This provided him with transitory relief. A year passed by — and, there was no tangible progress, or relief, what with increased dosages of antihistamines which only led to that inevitable habit-forming equation.

This prompted him to exploring holistic Ayurveda to solving his annoying health problem.

After thorough case and history taking and other investigations in accordance with the classical Ayurvedic approach, I was amused to ascertain the most likely cause — the use of excess lemons in juice, and food, on a daily basis, for over ten months, with the sole purpose of boosting one’s immunity. This was, as already cited, based on hearsay social media recommendations.

The patient, I also surmised, belonged to the pitta dominant body type. The sourness [amla rasa] and the quality of being ‘hot’ [usna guna], a lemon characteristic, heightened in my assessment his pitta dosha, while vitiating his rakta. This presented as annoying eruptions on the skin — the body’s reaction to achieving a semblance of natural balance.

Lemons are known to trigger hypersensitivity reactions, or cause inflammatory changes in sensitive skin types, due to the presence of high amounts of citric acid.

I asked the patient to discontinue his binging spree with lemon juice, or lemon — and, other sour food items, used as adjuvant ‘immune-boosters’ in other recipes — at once.

I prescribed him a detox plan — a change in his food habits and inclusion of certain foods to alleviate pitta, viz., tender coconuts, coriander seeds infused water, kokum juice, soaked basil seeds, along with Ayurveda medicines to alleviate his vitiated pitta and rakta, viz., kamadugha rasa, the Ayurvedic herbomineral formulation, pathyadi kadha, the herbal decoction, and avipattikara churna, the herbal powder mix, for a fortnight.

There was a huge smile on the young man’s countenance, when he came for his first follow-up. This was in sharp contrast to that much troubled visage he had sported before — of not being able to hold anything in his hands without being marooned by that typical itchy, or nasty, rash.

When his flagrant and other symptoms were relieved, I again advised him to follow appropriate dietary changes for the regulation of his pitta until his physiological, or functional, homeostasis was achieved and sustained.

This case holds a subtle caveat — that too much of a good thing may sometimes be not only unpleasant, but also detrimental to one’s health.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease.

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