SIMPLE WAYS TO A HAPPIER AND HEALTHIER FEMININE CYCLE
The simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments recommended below might offer relief as we attempt to eliminate common premenstrual and menstrual syndromes, and/or are opting for a smooth transition into menopause. A healthy cycle will also naturally enhance fertility.
We hope that you find that adopting even one or two tips results in a less painful and more balanced cycle for you or the women that you love.CHANGES TO YOUR DIET Dr. Robert Svoboda, in his book “Ayurveda For Women” states that changing your diet is likely to change your periods. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with your cycle we suggest:
- Eating small meals of warm, mildly spiced, soupy foods.
- Avoiding or at least limiting everything cold and bubbly, and everything heavy (meat, fried foods, most dairy products).
- Fulfilling cravings for salt by using seaweed or kelp powder. This may help restore balance and should also dissipate sugar cravings.
- Extracting the most from the flavor of your foods, especially when you’ve given into a craving.
- Eating slowly and savoring a mouthful for as long as you can. You may find yourself more satiated with just one or two bites and you’ll avoid the typical guilt that often accompanies caving into cravings.
- Eliminating caffeine. This can have dramatic effects, especially in women who have fibrocystic breast disease.
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol. This will reduce bloating and water retention in most women. Cutting back on salt, sour foods and dairy products can also enhance this effect.
- Eating stewed whole apples to relieve constipation.
GET ADEQUATE REST- Get sufficient rest by decreasing your overall activity and re-scheduling or limiting stress-inducing activities. This is not to say that it is recommended for you to engage in excessive sleep - especially during the daytime. - Napping during the day is best only in very hot weather or when you are very weak or exhausted; otherwise, it is likely to make you sluggish, clogged, heavy and/or dull. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
If you really listen to your body it will make precise, deliberate demands for what it needs from you. - Place special emphasis on the way that you are breathing. For example, if you are stuck in traffic, take a nice deep breath and be sure to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. Allow your breath to travel all the way down into the lower abdomen. This helps reduce stress, so do it when you can, not necessarily just during your cycle. - If it feels like it would be best to abstain from sex, please do.
ADD A LITTLE SPICE TO YOUR LIFE - Sweetened ginger tea can sometimes encourage disturbed or absent menses to regulate. For best results use raw honey or raw sugar. - Fennel seeds chewed after each meal prevent gas and gallbladder congestion. If you prefer tea, many women report that fennel tea alone is sometimes enough to relieve PMS and regulate menstruation. - Saffron regulates the menstrual cycle, relieves dysmenorrhea and PMS, and promotes fertility. If using it for fertility, it should mainly be used when the woman taking it is not bleeding. It is also digestive and it relieves respiratory congestion. It can be used in pastes to adorn the skin, to improve the complexion and to purify the mind. Some texts hail saffron paste as the supreme cosmetic for a woman’s breasts. ENJOY HERBS THAT ARE PROVEN TO SUPPORT A WOMAN’S CYCLE
Herbs commonly reduce symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, infertility and irregular or painful menstrual cycles. Herbs are also known to foster a relatively smooth and graceful change of life. The herbs Ashoka, Shatavari and Punarnava may be quite helpful for specific conditions. Ashoka: Legend is that Ashoka is a romantic tree that flowers when a beautiful woman touches it. Ashoka means “beyond grief” in Sanskrit. It is astringent, sedative, haemostatic, and it is particularly good for those with an uncomfortably profuse menstrual flow. Shatavari: Shatavari is translated as “she who possesses one hundred husbands;” it has been traditionally used as a nutritive tonic. It is anti-spasmodic, and contains glucosides, a food precursor of estrogen. Common indications are: regulation of menses, to bring on menses when one is experiencing amenorrhea (absence of periods). Shatavari is also commonly used for dysmenorrhea (painful periods). Punarnava: Punarnava rejuvenates the endometrium and enhances the tone of the uterus. It has been traditionally used for: endometriosis and fibroid tumors. Your Ayurvedic practitioner can prescribe a formula that is suited to you specifically. Our “Women’s Support” or “Shatavari” tablets can also assist you in attaining optimal feminine and overall health.
Note: We’ve gathered notes from various courses we’ve taken on the Ayurvedic approach to women’s health and combined them with Dr. Robert Svoboda’s material in Ayurveda For Women. It is with his exclusive permission that we are able to pass along the information in this article. AYURVEDIC SPECIFIC CONDITION REVIEW: PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROMEBy: John Douillard, D.C.
IntroductionThe premise of Ayurveda is not based on the removal of symptoms; rather, it empowers the body’s ability to heal itself. In this regard, the focus of the treatment identifies and addresses the initial cause of PMS. The root cause of most cases of PMS begins early in the lifestyle of a menstruating young woman. Charaka and the other Ayurvedic authorities state that the suppression of natural urges, excessive sex and excessive physical exercise, along with an improper diet, are linked to the cause of female reproductive disorder. But here in the West the average female strays from following some of the major feminine health guidelines that are taken for granted in the culture of India’s Ayurveda. The causes of some of our modern diseases, which did not exist as such in Vedic times, have to be reinvestigated from a modern perspective of lifestyle and behavior. Understanding the Cleansing Cycle
There is a general consensus among Ayurvedic physicians, who come from India to tour the country, as to why the excessive amount of female disorders plague the West and not the East, and it has much to do with honoring the cycle itself.
In India, the menstrual cycle is a highly respected cycle that is an expression of the female connectedness to the cycles of the moon. This cycle regulates the tides, migrations, mating times, and, of course, the twenty-eight day cycle of menstruation.Menses is a time when the female body is providing extra energy to insure an effective and complete sloughing of waste products. It is a natural time of cleansing and rejuvenation, traditionally accompanied by a time of rest or light duty. It is understood that in traditional cultures there were extended families that supported women during their monthly cycle and through menstruation. Here in the West, this is not the case. However, this does not mean that modern working women cannot respect this time of the month, taking a lighter load or scheduling around their time of the month. Basically, the Ayurvedic recommendation is to act in accord with how one feels. Ignoring this cycle is often at the root of the premenstrual syndrome. If there is some desire to rest during menstruation and this is not provided, then symptoms of some sort are sure to come. This resting is not a sign of weakness: it is a time of pulling back the bow so that one can later engage in more dynamic activity. Some of the Ayurvedic doctors comment that the menstrual cycle and monthly cleansing is one of the factors that lead to the generally longer life span of women [vs. men]. Treatment According to Doshas PMS - Vata Type Symptoms of vata imbalance as they manifest in relation to the menstrual cycle include: nervous tension, mood swings, anxiety/depression; insomnia; forgetfulness/confusion; constipation; light amount of flow; menstrual pain/cramps/backache; extended length of period with dark, clotted flow; irregularity of periods or flow.
Grains: Rice and wheat are very good. Reduce intake of barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, rye, and oats.Fruits: Favor sweet, sour, or heavy fruits, such as oranges, bananas, avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, pineapples, mangoes, and papayas. Avoid or reduce dry or light fruits, such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and dried fruits. Vegetables: Beets, cucumbers, carrots, asparagus, and sweet potatoes are good. They should be cooked, not raw. The following vegetables are acceptable in moderate quantities if they’re cooked, especially with ghee or oil and vata-reducing spices: peas, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, and potatoes. It’s better to avoid sprouts and cabbage. Spices: Cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, and small quantities of black pepper all help reduce vata. Nuts: All nuts are good. Beans: Avoid all beans, except for tofu and mung dhal. Meat and Fish (for non-vegetarians): Chicken, turkey, and seafood are fine; beef should be avoided. Food Supplements 1. Take 1 teaspoon of castor oil every night for one month. Take less if there is a laxative effect. 2. Take 2 tablespoons pure (no preservatives) aloe juice after meals, twice a day, but not within three days of the end of menstrual flow. 3. Take fennel and licorice tea, as desired. Specific Herbal Supplements If you usually have a light amount of flow; menstrual pain/cramps/backache; extended length of period with dark, clotted flow; irregularity of periods or flow you may want to combine: 2 parts Shatavari 2 parts musta 1 part licorice 1 part Punarnava Then mix 1 teaspoon of the resulting combination with sugar and ghee and take three times/day. If you usually have nervous tension, mood swings, anxiety/depression, insomnia, forgetfulness/confusion, and/or constipation, you may want to combine equal parts: Brahmi jatamamsi Ashwaganda guduchi Then mix 1 teaspoon of the resulting combination with water and take three times a day.
ActivityEmphasize the importance of maintaining the proper balance of rest and activity throughout the month. Rest during the period, and practice daily Abhyanga (oil massage) and exercise. Specific Home Treatments 1. Daily self-massage with warm sesame oil. 2. 7 to 10 days before your period, one hour after your self-massage, take a hot tub bath. Massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion during the bath. 3. 7 to 10 days before your period, follow your self-massage and bath with the following laxative therapy: On an empty stomach, take four tablespoons castor oil mixed with ½ cup juice (any juice except grape juice). Do not eat until the majority of the laxative action has occurred (4 to 6 hours). Usually this procedure results in 2 to 3 bowel movements. You may repeat this monthly for up to 6 months. 4. For pain experienced during the period, application of heat externally to the lower abdomen is advised. This may be accomplished by rubbing ripened sesame oil on the abdomen followed by the application of a hot water bottle directly to the oiled skin or placed on tip of a cotton cloth soaked in fresh ginger juice or on top of a paste made from ginger powder and warm water. For persistent or severe cases take an extended Panchakarma treatment (5 to 7 days) as soon as possible.
excessive body heat or sweating; diarrhea or increased bowel movements;
skin rashes/acne; excessive menstrual bleeding; increased frequency of periods; bright red flow
Pitta-Pacifying Diet (simplified)Favor foods that are cool and liquid. Minimize foods that are hot. Favor foods that are sweet, bitter, or astringent. Minimize foods that are spicy, salty or sour. Dairy: Milk, butter, and ghee are good for pacifying pitta. Avoid yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and cultured buttermilk; these sour tastes aggravate pitta.
excessive menstrual bleeding; increased frequency of periods; bright red flow, you can try:2 parts Shatavari 1 part tumeric 1 part Brahmi Take 1 teaspoon, with water, three times a day. To decrease pitta and vata, take manjistha three times a day after meals.
ExerciseThose experiencing pitta-type PMS symptoms should be encouraged to stay active and focused during the premenstrual phase. Overheating, however, should be carefully avoided. Specific Home Treatments 1. Daily self-massage with coconut oil. 2. Each day for seven days before the period begins do a self-massage with coconut oil, followed by a hot tub bath one hour later. Massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion during the bath. 3. 7 to 10 days before your period, follow your self-massage and bath with the following laxative therapy: On an empty stomach, take 4 teaspoons of castor oil mixed with ½ cup of any juice (except grape). Do not eat until the majority of the laxative action has occurred (4 to 6 hours). Usually, this procedure results in 2 to 3 bowel movements. You may repeat this monthly for up to 6 months. Other Specific Recommendations 1. Rinse the external genital area twice daily with cool water. You also may splash cool water on the eyes twice daily. 2. Apply coconut oil to the head and feet at bedtime for more restful sleep and headache prevention. 3. Apply ghee to the nostrils for one week before the period. 4. Avoid overheating, hot water on the head, and overexposure to sunlight. 5. When irritable or out of sorts, it is important to ensure that you are getting adequate rest. Also, try to stay focused on specific projects. 6. Be sure not to take long hot showers or hot baths during your heavy flow days, as these tend to increase flow. Take a short shower or sponge bath instead. For persistent or severe cases, take an extended Panchakarma treatment.