Ayurvedic approach to a healthy menstrual cycle

By TNT Bureau

Nov 24, 2017: During menstruation, many women suffer from excessive bleeding, irregular periods, scanty bleeding, etc. Women accept this painful menstruation as a normal condition. However, ayurveda perceives menstruation with pain and side effects as “abnormal menstruation”.

Ayurvedic defines normal menstruation as one that is “without pain or burning sensation, blood is not unctuous, not very scanty or excessive in amount, and the color of the blood resembles the red juice of lac or rabbit’s blood.”

According to ayurveda, a balance of tri-doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) results in normal menstruation. It says that if there is an imbalance in these, it may lead to abnormal menstruation.

A byproduct of plasma

The menstrual flow is a byproduct of the most basic tissues of the body. Food undergoes transformation through seven tissue layers of the body—plasma, blood, muscle and fat tissues, bony tissue, nervous system, and, lastly, the reproductive tissues. Menstrual flow is a byproduct of the first layer, rasa dhatu, or the plasma. Plasma carries hormones, vitamins, minerals and water. When this layer is healthy, all nutrients and wastes flow freely, and leave the body with ease. The layer of blood or rakta dhatu, is part of the menstrual flow that releases excess pitta.

How ayurveda perceives

To ayurveda, each individual has a specific body constitution or prakriti, based on which our health, personality and menstrual conditions vary. In tri-dosha system, the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha occur in different combinations in individuals.

Ayurvedic texts like Sushruta Samhita say that “disturbed menstruation” is caused by disturbed vayu (that is vata), pitta, kapha, and blood.

Vata menstrual flow

As vata percolates through the blood vessels and into the uterus, its cold qualities along with dry and roughbring a sense of tightening. The process begins with a decrease in the plasma and blood tissues, decreasing nourishment to and thinning out the lining of the uterus, thereby decreasing overall flow and discharge of the menstrual flow. As a general rule, wherever there is pain, there is some form of vitiation or blockage of the free flow of vata.

To balance the menstrual cycle, treat with the opposite qualities. For example, for a vata menstrual cycle, draw in qualities of heaviness, warmth, stability, oiliness, and liquid.

So adopt vata-pacifying diet and lifestyle. Eat warm, mushy foods cooked in warm spices and plenty of ghee, especially if your menstrual cycle seems to be decreasing in flow or appears to be more dry. Also avoid caffeine. Drink plenty of water as vata, dry and scanty cycles are usually due to a depletion of the nourishing rasa dhatu.

Herbs are very supportive to the vata menstrual cycle. Nourishing herbs like Shatavari and Ashwagandha help.

Pitta menstrual flow

Pitta is hot and sharp, and brings heat and fluidity to the blood, hence it flows with ease. Pitta resides in the blood, hence pitta menstrual cycles are often heavy. With the heat comes inflammation, which can provoke swelling. Hence, many feel swollen breast during this period.

To effectively balance pitta flow, you must counterbalance the hot quality with coolness and the sharp quality with dullness and softness. Have pitta-pacifying diet to bring calmness and softness to life. Avoid spicy and oily foods.

For pitta type premenstrual symptoms that often lodge in the head that leads to headaches, Nasya is effective. Nasya balances the energy in the head. But don’t do this while menstruating. Coconut oil also balances pitta because it is cool and sweet in taste. For those who suffer from tender breast during the premenstrual period, breast massage can be helpful. Herbs like Aloe vera, Ashoka brahmi are supportive herbs.

Kapha menstrual flow

Stagnation from denseness, heaviness, dullness, stickiness and coolness, poses difficulty to those with a kapha imbalance. As stagnation grows, it obstructs and blocks the system in the rasa dhatu. This gives rise to sensation of bloating, puffiness, and swelling that many women face during this period. Kapha cycle is likely to experience heavier flow than the vata cycle.

Since kapha brings heaviness, thickness, oiliness, dullness and slowness into rasa dhatu, invite lightness, thinness, and more fluidity to your lifestyle. For this, stimulate agni—the warmth of agni will counteract all of the qualities of kapha.

Keep warm and dry. Stimulate agni with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. Wake up early and avoid daytime napping. Do exercise daily.

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