Graceful Menopause With The Help Of Ayurveda
by: Dr. Sushama Patwardhan
Menopause is a unique experience for every woman. It is the ending of a woman’s monthly menstrual periods and ovulation. It also signals other changes to the body and mind, brought on in part because the body begins producing lesser amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (among others).
Menopause is not a disease. It is a natural process in a woman’s life. How a woman views this time of her life can have a lot to do with how frequent and severe her symptoms are. If menopause is viewed as the end of youth and sexuality, this time will be much more difficult than if it is viewed as the next, natural phase of life, a time of greater freedom, liberation from the restrictions of youth. .
Although menopause is one of the important physical milestones in a woman’s life, many women lack concrete information about what is taking place and what are their options. With a proper diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise and simple lifestyle changes, most of the unpleasant side effects of menopause can be minimized to a great extent and with this knowledge and preparation you can step forward with grace and embrace it!
Ayurveda links menopause with aging. Aging is a ‘Vata’ predominant stage of life. Thus, the symptoms of menopause experienced by some women are similar to the symptoms seen when the Vata dosha rises and upsets the normal balance of the body. Vata-type menopausal symptoms tend to include depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Menopause may also manifest itself as a rise in the other two humors also. Women with Pitta-type symptoms are often angry and suffer hot flashes. Kapha type symptoms include listlessness, weight gain, and feelings of mental and physical heaviness.
The type of treatment depends upon the dosha in which the woman’s menopausal symptoms are manifesting.
Here it is important to note that health problems at menopause represent imbalances in the body that were already growing in the body and are unmasked by the stress of shifting hormones. Menopause symptoms are Nature’s wake-up call to let you know you need to start paying more attention to your health. Taking proper steps in the direction of balancing the imbalance doshas, paying attention to your diet and making lifestyle changes now is critical to ensuring that you age gracefully without the burden of chronic health problems.
Symptoms – Nervousness, anxiety, panic, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of skin tone, feeling cold, irregular periods, insomnia, mild or variable hot flashes, constipation, palpitations, bloating and joints aches and pains.
Diet – Increase warm food and drinks, regular meals, and use spices such as fennel and cumin. Decrease caffeine and other stimulants, refined sugar, cold drinks, salads.
Lifestyle – Early bedtime, oil massage using almond and olive oil, meditation, yoga, Regular exercise like walking
Anti-Vata herbs include ashwagandha, arjuna, astragalus, cardamom, comfrey root, garlic, ginseng, guggul, hawthorn berries, licorice, myrrh, rehmannia, sandalwood and zizphus.
Symptoms – Prone to Hot Temper, anger, irritability, feeling hot, hot flashes, night sweats, heavy periods, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections, skin rashes and acne.
Diet – Increase cooling foods, water intake, sweet juicy fruits (grapes, pears, plums, mango, melons, apples,) zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, organic foods. Use spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and fennel. Avoid hot spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol. no eating late at night.
Lifestyle – Go to bed before 10 PM , oil massage using coconut and sesame oil. Use Meditation and other techniques to reduce anger, hatred and resentment. Exercise and exposure to the sun are limited.
Anti Pitta herbs to be used include aloe vera, arjuna, barberry, golden seal, gotu kola, saffron, sandalwood and shatavari.
Symptoms – Weight Gain , sluggishness, lethargy, fluid retention, yeast infections, lazy, depressed, lacking motivation, slow digestion.
Diet – Prefer light, dry and warm food, Consume fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables. Use spices such as black pepper, turmeric and ginger. Avoid meat, cheese, sugar, cold foods and drinks. Weekly fasting is helpful. Most or all of the daily food should be consumed before 6 p.m.
Lifestyle – Get up early (by 6AM). Mustard oil and linseed oil are often recommended for massage.
Anti Kapha Herbs include bayberry, cayenne, cinnamon, guggul, motherwort ,mustard and myrrh.
Key factors in achieving graceful menopause –
A smooth menopause transition and great health in the years to come can be achieved with the help of –
Balancing Doshas – Ascertain the imbalance dosha according to your symptoms and follow the advice given above to balance that dosha.
Balancing Diet – Diet plays a key role in balancing hormones during and after menopause. It is well known that Japanese women rarely experience hot flashes, probably because their diet contains large amounts of soy/soya, a food rich in certain plant estrogens called “isoflavones.” Soya products are not the only source of plant estrogens, however. Another equally healthful source of phytoestrogens are “lignans,” compounds found in a variety of whole foods including grains and cereals, dried beans and lentils, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and peanuts, vegetables such as asparagus, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic and broccoli and fruits such as pears, plums and strawberries. Common herbs and spices such as thyme oregano, nutmeg, turmeric and licorice also have estrogenic properties.
Eat a varied diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dried beans .It’s a rich source of phytoestrogen. Variety and moderation are important because just as too much estrogen is unhealthy after menopause, too much phytoestrogen may also be dangerous.
Apana Vata, which governs the genito-urinary tract, elimination, and menstruation, is a key area to attend to when preparing for menopause. Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day. Eat plenty of cooked, leafy greens, as this helps elimination and is also a good source of calcium. For both Pitta and Vata imbalances, a breakfast of cooked apples and prunes and figs is a good way to start the day, as it balances the doshas and cleanses the digestive track.
Panchakarma – More serious symptoms, such as frequent hot flashes, continual sleep disturbance, and moderate to severe mood swings, are signs of deeper imbalances.
Ayurveda describes that these stubborn symptoms are usually due to the buildup of wastes and toxins, referred to as “ama,” in the body’s tissues.
In this case, a traditional Ayurvedic detoxification program “panchakarma,” may be needed to clear the body’s channels and gain relief. This internal cleansing approach is also the treatment of choice for more serious problems such as osteoporosis and high cholesterol.
About The Author
Dr. Mrs. Sushama Patwardhan, is a graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery [B.A.M.S] [Ayurvedacharya] Working as Ayurvedic Consultant at Sangli,INDIA for last 23 years.
Working as a ‘associate editor’ for the website http://ayurveda-foryou.com for past 3 years.
This article was posted on October 02, 2003