The word Ayurveda itself means “knowledge of life,” and to know Ayurveda is to comprehend the dynamic relationships between your body, mind and spirit, and how each relates to the world around you. While we will always know our own bodies better than anyone else ever could, when we reach an impasse, talking with an experienced practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine can be helpful. Many women have found not just relief during menopause, but improved overall health and longevity by integrating conventional, modern approaches with alternative practices such as Ayurvedic medicine.
There are many approaches in the Ayurvedic science to support menopausal symptoms. First we must understand the doshic system as it serves as a central guide. One is born with a fundamental constitution, or Prakriti, that remains with us through out life. Acting upon our constitution are the three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which influence our state of health or imbalance. These three doshas are responsible for the manifestations, appearances of the natural forces at work in the bodies systems. Each dosha is defined or represented by two of the five natural elements: either, air, fire, water earth.
Vata, the space and air principle, is embodied by ether. It resides in the spaces of your body, filling empty airspaces and channels, and helps govern the function of the nervous system.
Pitta, the fire and water principle, exists within your body mainly as bile and acid, and is most closely associated with the digestive and elimination systems.
Kapha, or the water and earth principle, relates to the respiratory system and mucous membranes and governs the majority of our physical composition.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a course of action is always individualized and will generally be based on the individual's imbalances also known as Vikriti. If you have an imbalance or excess in one of the doshas throughout menopause, the resulting imbalance tends to produce certain symptoms that are characteristic for that dosha. Recognizing which dosha dominates your system in menopause will help to identify which Ayurvedic suggestions would best match you and ease your symptoms. Below are signs or expressions of what dosha is showing to be predominate.
- Mild hot flashes
- Poor skin tone
- Vaginal dryness
- Angry outbursts
- Short temper
- Skin rashes
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Urinary tract infections
- Yeast infections
- Slow digestions
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
Ayurvedic advises for Vata-dominated menopause: The first thing you should do is follow a general Vata pacifying diet and lifestyle plan. Create a routine in all that you do from the time you get up in the morning, meal times, to the time you go to bed. Going to bed early can also help balance excess Vata.
Use herbs such as cardamom, fennel, cumin and ginseng in warm teas and in your food. A daily self oil massage with a blend of sesame and almond oil can be one of the best Vata pacifying actions. The use of essential oils such as sandalwood, frankincense, cinnamon and myrrh as vapor or direct application through the massage will also be effective.
Dietary habits that decrease Vata include frequent but small meals, prepared freshly cooked, warm and mildly spiced with herbs. Warm drinks and foods build strength, and it is good to try to avoid eating when you are nervous or worried about something.
In general taking Ayurvedic herbs and formulas under the guidance of an experienced Ayurvedic medical practitioner is suggested. Some gentle Ayurvedic herbs that could be used would include; Ashwaganda, Licorice, Haritaki, and Tulsi.
Ayurvedic advises for Pitta-dominated menopause: Follow a Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle plan. Ayurveda suggests that a good way to calm your fiery pitta-dominant menopause is with coconut and sesame oil application. You might also try massaging with clarified butter (ghee), or take it internally. You may also benefit from the very relaxing, pitta-balancing essential oils of gardenia, honeysuckle, geranium, lotus and peppermint.
The anti-Pitta diet is also designed to cool. It consists of lots of cooling, heavy foods, warmly cooked or small amounts of raw foods. The taste should be relatively plain and not cooked in a lot of oil or heavily laden with hot spices. Its important for Pitta to eat three regular meals a day around the same time each day. Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, pears, plums, mango, melons, and apples between meals can also benefit. It is helpful to avoid alcohol and drink generous amounts of cool clear water to stay refreshed and hydrated.
Ayurvedic practitioners also suggest and encourage women to avoid pungent, sour, salty, and hot spicy tastes and hot drinks. Incorporate herbs such as coriander, cilantro and cardamon in teas and foods. Use Pitta pacifying Ayurvedic herbs such as Amalaki, Aloe Vera, Shatavari and Bhrami daily.
Ayurvedic advises for Kapha-dominated menopause: Insure to follow a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle plan. It is good to remember to stimulate the mind and body at this time. According to Ayurvedic practice, lessening Kapha through your diet means eating light, dry and warm, so it’s best to avoid sweet and cold foods, as well as oily or heavy foods like meats and cheeses. Instead, women with Kapha dominance are encouraged to eat mild fruits as opposed to very sweet or sour ones, warm and drying whole grains such as millet and buckwheat rather than wheat, smaller legumes such as mung beans and red lentils, and pungent and bitter vegetables such as greens.
Any and all spices (but salt) are fine, including black pepper, turmeric and ginger. Women with Kapha dominance often find they feel best when they avoid big meals, strive for a light breakfast and dinner, and make lunch the heaviest meal. Avoid using most cooking oils, light to none if possible.
Essential oils such as basil, cedar, frankincense and black pepper can be used as a vapor or directly applied to the body. Try adding spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper ginger, turmeric to warm teas and through out the day. Ayurvedic herbs such as Guggulu, Bibhitaki, and Pippili can be taken in moderation.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.