An Individual Experience
From the holistic perspective of Ayurveda, menopause is a unique, individual experience for each woman. Since we all have a unique constitution and individual strengths, weaknesses, and habits, menopause cannot be viewed with a cookie-cutter mentality. The intensity of menopause will be different for each woman and the problems following menopause will also vary depending on many factors. As a matter of fact, if viewed and supported properly, menopause can be a spiritually transforming and health promoting transition. Yet most women lack information about what is realy happening and what are their choices to alleviate symptoms and prevent future problems.
From a physiological point of view, menopause is the ending of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycles and ovulation. It also brings other changes, both physical and mental, due to the fact that the body begins producing less amounts of certain hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone. But let’s get this straight: Menopause is not a disease. It is a natural process in every woman’s life. It may bring light to aspects that perhaps needed attention before menopause even started, but it is still just part of life, and not some sort of “flaw in the design.” It is not natural to get osteoporosis, to age quicker, or to have heart problems and other diseases after menopause. Like any other chronic ailments, these develop over a lifetime as the result of an unnatural lifestyle (poor diet, lack of exercise and outdoor activity, stress, unresolved emotions, excessive toxins, etc.) and genetic and constitutional predisposition.
The experience of menopause can include uncomfortable and intense symptoms and mental states that can make a woman feel like there is something really wrong with her body. Although menopause has to do with hormonal changes, from a holistic perspective, depending on how balanced your diet and life were before menopause will most likely determine how severe these symptoms and mental states manifest. Menopause is a natural transition that does not require dangerous “hormone replacement therapy,” as the side effects of this type of method have proven to be much more dangerous than beneficial.
According to Ayurveda, the best way to ease menopause symptoms is a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Furthermore, the key to the prevention of major health problems after menopause is also a healthy lifestyle. How healthy you are overall and how balanced your life is when you reach menopause largely determines how smooth or intense your transition will be. If you have been rushing, stressing, overworking, eating poorly, not resting enough, or living an unfulfilled life during your 30s and 40s, you are more likely to develop symptoms such as mood swings, sleep problems and troublesome hot flashes when your hormones start to change. Now, if you have established healthy lifestyle habits, followed a proper diet according to your individual constitution, and managed your stress and emotions effectively through introspection, yoga and meditation, you are likely to breeze through menopause without any major problems during or after this transition.
Health problems during and after menopause express imbalances in your body that were already there before menopause, and are simply exaggerated and brought into light by the stress of shifting hormones. So menopause symptoms are your body’s wake-up call to let you know that you need to pay more attention to your health and take action to prevent further imbalances. In any case, Ayurveda can help you with this important transition and set you up on a program that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Some of the common symptoms of menopause are due to vata dosha increasing and pushing the other doshas. Yet the treatment will depend on your individual predominant dosha or dosha imbalance. The following are general symptoms and recommendations according to the predominant dosha, and women with dual doshic constitutions will have mixed symptoms. Of course, a more individualized approach with the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner is best.
Symptoms: Anxiety, nervousness, panic, palpitations, mood swings, vaginal dryness, loss of skin tone, chilly sensations, irregular periods, insomnia, mild or variable hot flashes, constipation, bloating, joint aches and pains.
Diet: Increase warm foods and drinks; eat regular meals; use spices such as fennel and cumin; avoid caffeine and other stimulants, refined sugar, cold drinks, dry foods and salads; add Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Digestive Churna for Vata to your meals.
Lifestyle: Go to bed early; establish a regular routine around meals; receive abhyanga regularly or do self-massage with sesame oil or Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Vata Oil; practice meditation and slow, mindful yoga or tai chi.
Useful herbs: Ashwagandha, vidari, shatavari, arjuna, cardamom, comfrey root, garlic, (soaked) almonds, guggul, licorice, pomegranate juice, myrrh, sandalwood.
Symptoms: Anger, irritability, feeling hot, hot flashes, night sweats, heavy periods, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections, skin rashes and acne.
Diet: Increase water intake and cooling foods such as sweet juicy fruits (grapes, pears, plums, mango, melons, apples,); use spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and fennel; avoid hot spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol; avoid eating late at night, add Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Digestive Churna for Pitta to your meals.
Lifestyle: Go to bed before 10 pm; receive abhyanga regularly or do self-massage with coconut or Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Pitta Oil; practice meditation and stress reducing techniques, and moderate yoga during the coolest parts of the day; avoid excessive exposure to the sun.
Useful herbs: Shatavari, aloe vera, arjuna, vidari, barberry, ashoka, gotu kola, saffron, sandalwood.
Symptoms: Weight gain, sluggishness, lethargy, depression, fluid retention, yeast infections, lack of motivation, slow digestion.
Diet: Eat light, dry and warm food; eat fruits, whole grains, legumes and vegetables; use spices like black pepper, turmeric and ginger; avoid meat, cheese, sugar, cold foods and drinks; fast weekly; eat all meals before 6 pm, add Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Digestive Churna for Kapha to your meals.
Lifestyle: Get up early (by 6 am); exercise regularly and vigorously; fast one day a week until dinner time; dry brush before showering; receive abhyanga or do self-massage with mustard oil or Blue Lotus Ayurveda® Kapha Oil.
Useful herbs: Ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, guggulu, ashwagandha, motherwort, mustard and myrrh.
Panchakarma for Deep Detoxification
More serious or intense symptoms of menopause, such as frequent hot flashes, continual sleep disturbances, joint pains and aches, and moderate to severe mood swings, are signs of deeper imbalances that are most likely caused by the buildup of toxins (or ama) in the tissues.
In this case, Panchakarma, which is Ayurveda’s unique detoxification and rejuvenation program may be needed not only to clear your body’s channels and gain relief, but also to prevent more chronic and serious conditions later on. This internal cleansing approach is also the treatment of choice for problems such as arthritis, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and others. Panchakarma is recommended in the ancient texts during the change of seasons to promote longevity. In our fast paced society, this is even more needed, as we accumulate more toxins due to stress and poor quality foods.
Menopause can be a healthy, spiritually minded transition into a wiser stage of your life with the proper tools and understanding. Ayurveda can offer guidelines on an individual basis, according to your unique constitution and needs, along with herbal nutrition and Panchakarma for a holistic and natural approach to this important transition.
Learn about Panchakarma and why you need it.
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