Menopause is the time in most women lives when they cease to be fertile or menstruate. This natural biological transition begins between ages 45 and 55 and can cause uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal discharge and dryness, mood swing, headache etc. These symptoms can take out to be quiet annoying. A good diet can help ease and prevent such conditions. In order to sail gracefully through menopause, Ayurveda can come to a great help.
The main concept of Ayurveda science is based upon on 3 vital elements, the Vatha, Pitta and Kapha, the three life forces which give each person a unique constitution. Pitta in Sanskrit means “Warmth” and it regulates all metabolic processes in the body as well as body temperature and hormonal balance.
According to Ayurveda, the beginning of menopause makes the transition from Pitta phase of life to Vatha phase of life. Imbalances in both Vatha and Pitta may occur during this transition.
When the Pitta imbalances within the deep tissues of the body, it results in hot flashes and night sweats. Another reason could be the build-up of Aama (toxins) in the channels of the body. It restricts the flow of heat in the deeper tissues. When the build-up finds an outlet, it flashes in a manner that leaves one feeling extremely uncomfortable. A sub dosha of Vatha, called Vyanavatha can aggravate the problem if it is also out of balance, by “fanning the flames” with a dry wind action. Two keys to relief from the flashes are therefore
- Balancing Pitta dosha
- Cleansing Aama (toxins) from the body
Symptoms associated with hot flash
- Circulation – hot/burning feet
- Appetite – strong/frequent thirst
- Skin – easily hot
- Water Regulation – night sweats
- Stomach – stomach ulcer
- Small intestine – food allergy
- Sleep pattern – waking up in the middle of the night
Hot flashes follow a daily pattern and tend to peak in most women in the late evening hours around 10pm. Ayurvedically, this time of the night is the start of Pitta time (10pm-2 am), so one would expect this to be the time when Pitta becomes active in the body as well.
To keep Pitta from flaring up therefore,
- You have to consciously cool down during evening. Take time to relax physically ,mentally and emotionally
- Avoid always working under deadlines of time pressure. Do not over work. Prioritize, delegate, simplify -whatever it takes to ensure that you can get through your day without constantly being stressed
- Diet management
- Do not skip meals and make sure you eat lunch around noon ,when your digestive fire is at its peak
- Eat plenty of sweet juicy fruits – ripe pears are excellent for balancing Saadhaka Pitta, a sub dosha of Pitta that governs emotions
- The Pitta pacifying diet favours the sweet, bitter, and astringent taste and recommends avoiding sour, salty and spicy foods
- Drink lots of room temperature or cool (not ice cold) water through the day
- Include some ghee in your diet – exceptionally good for pacifying Pitta
- Cook with cooling spices such as coriander, anise, fennel, and mint
- Augment your diet with these specially chosen ingredients below which may be useful for hot flashes
- Aloe Vera gel
- Honey dew
- Coconut oil
- Coconut water
- Kale (leaf cabbage)
List of foods that can help you manage the symptoms of menopause
- Aloe Vera gel – Powerhouse of various essential vitamins and minerals. You can either extract the gel from plant or buy it from market. This gel is high in Phyto Oestrogens that help in correcting the hormonal imbalance. This also rehydrate the body that may reverse symptoms of menopause.
- Shatavari – Its powder can be consumed with milk. Commonly known as women health tonic. Shatavari can help boost mental strength. It can be used to treat menopausal complaints including vaginal discharge, night sweats, anxiety, hot flashes, and mood swings. Take 3-4 grams of Shatavari powder with milk, twice daily
- Fenugreek seeds – These wonder seeds are packed with lots of beneficial properties. It has natural hormonal balancing properties that can keep bloating and hot flashes at bay. Soak ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds in water overnight and consume it early on empty stomach.
- Ashoka powder – It is a powerful herb that can improve ovarian function to a considerable extent. It can be consumed in the form of powder (Choorna) or various medicinal combinations are available
- Amla/Gooseberry – It has a cooling effect on body. It helps to pacify heat sensations, sweating in palm and feet and hot flashes
- Milk – Drink 2 glass of milk daily, milk prevents as well as makes up for the bone loss in menopause
- Soybean – Soybean has been consumed for pacifying menopause symptoms. It is a high protein and oestrogen rich food
Important: Check with your doctor before making any change to your diet and wellness routine.
Identifying trigger points and avoiding them
- Common triggers include
- Warm weather
- Spicy/Hot Food/Beverages
- Alcohol – Stop consumption of alcohol
- Smoking – Stop smoking
- Losing weight
- Carrying cool water at all time/taking cold shower
Drinking cold water or splashing it over the face and wrists can help quickly cool the body during hot flashes
- Keeping calm – Practice relaxation techniques and exercises
Relaxation techniques and exercises
- Guided thought
- Talk therapy/Counselor Service
- Massages with cooling oils
- Breathing exercises
Importance of Panchakarma
Periodic internal cleansing is important in order to rid the body of toxins (Aama). With the cessation of menstruation, women lose one avenue of periodic cleansing. To compensate for the loss of natural purification that occur with each monthly cycle, you need to follow the Ayurvedic recommendation of internal cleansing at every change of season at the minimum. In this context Panchakarma (Ayurvedic method, combining procedures to eliminate toxin and rejuvenate body) gains its importance. Panchakarma procedures along with relaxing treatments for head and body like Shirodhara, Uddhwarthana, Shashtika, Pindasweda (Navarakizhi) etc. helps you to get rid of menopausal discomforts.