Ayurveda is an ancient system of life (Ayur) knowledge (Veda) arising in India more than 5000 years ago. Rooted in the notion that our universe is made of five essential elements Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Ether. The essence and principles of Ayurvedic Medicine are to keep Mind, Body, and Spirit in perfect harmony and balance.
The practice of Ayurveda balances these five elements that are represented in our bodies as three doshas Vata, Pitta, and Kapha individually and uniquely balanced in each of us to prevent and eliminate disease and prolong life. If our dosha’s become exaggerated and out of balance it alters our health and well being.
Sounds wonderful, I know, but let’s face it the hot flashes have you miserable and you’re looking for some tangible solutions. The tossing and turning that’s keeping you up at night endless trips to the thermostat leaving your loved ones in a deep freeze is probably what got you stopping to read this article in the first place. Yes, menopause for most of us can definitely have a rude introduction hijacking you at random inconvenient moments demanding and accepting nothing less than your immediate attention. So not to disappoint let’s discuss Ayurveda and its ancient wisdom as it certainly has a few tips to help get your life back on track.
Rooted in the ancient teachings of Ayurveda is that menopause marks the transition from the Pitta phase of life to the Vata and during this transition, imbalances occur in both Pitta and Vata. Menopause is characterized by Vata predominance with symptoms very similar to a person diagnosed with Vatta imbalances including depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
But wait, like most things in life it’s really not that simple. Remember doshas are balanced uniquely in each of us and therefore menopause can also present itself with the other doshas out of balance too. If for example, Pitta is out of balance women may suffer from anger, mood swings, and hot flashes, while Kapha imbalances may be more like fatigue, weight gain, and mental fogginess. So let’s get to a few real tips that just might make your days and nights a bit calmer and cooler.
Some symptoms that may suggest your Dosha imbalance and a few tips that just might help you beat the heat!
Weight gain, mental fogginess, fatigue, decreased energy and lack of motivation
Diet- Light dry warm food generously using spices that decrease Kapha such as turmeric, ginger, and black pepper. Adding herbs like cayenne, cinnamon, and bayberry all these foods should be eaten before 7pm
Lifestyle- Plenty of sleep be in bed by 9pm. Lights out no TV, cell phone or distractions that might keep you up. Rise early by 6am, meditation is a wonderful way to get your day started and massages using mustard or linseed oil are a must have if you are a Kapha.
Kapha lifestyle value add- “Bedtime tea”-try this turmeric nighttime tea: 2 cups boiling water over 1 teaspoon turmeric steep 10 minutes strain add honey and or lemon sip and enjoy!
Anger, aggressive mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, bleeding irregularity
Diet- Adding more cool and cold foods, sweet organic juices apple, pear, melon. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and fennel. Avoid alcohol hot and spicy food all should be eaten by 6pm. Add herbs, Aloe Vera, Golden Seal, and Gotu Kola
Lifestyle- Practice Meditation to help control anger and mood swings treat yourself to massages with coconut and sesame oil to calm the fiery dominance of Pitta
Pitta lifestyle value add- Refreshing Fennel tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1/2 teaspoon crushed seeds cool add ice cubes lemon and honey to taste for a refreshing beverage to keep the heat at bay
Anxious, mood swings, nervousness, restlessness, cold intolerance, minimal hot flashes, vaginal dryness, joint pain
Diet- Warm food, hot beverages, spices such as fennel and cumin avoid cold foods and refined sugars. Adding herbs Ashwagandha, garlic, ginseng and licorice.
Lifestyle- Increase low impact exercises walking, Pilate’s, yoga, massages with almond and olive oil
Vata lifestyle value add- Ashwagandha sometimes called “Indian Ginseng” helps boost the immune system and has a calming effect on the body, try this warm soothing beverage from “Guide to Medicinal herbs, The world most effective healing plants”, Simmer 1-2 teaspoon powdered ashwagandha in 2 cups milk low heat for 15min add 1 tablespoon raw sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom stir until well mixed, drink a cup once or twice a day to help bring some calm and peace to your day!
So next time you feel the heat of menopause don’t forget to balance your dosha’s and keep these Ayurvedic principles close at hand
1. Well balanced dosha’s help keep Mind, Body, and Spirit balanced
2. Eat a diet rich in whole foods with plenty of herbs and spices, eliminating processed foods decreasing alcohol and caffeine
3. Balancing your daily activity to include mindfullness, exercise, and meditation. Uncluttering the mind and body to optimize hormonal function
Hot flashes burning you up? check out these additional articles to help you beat the midlife heat!
A mindful Menopause with Ayurveda; An Ayurvedic approach to managing Menopause; Top 10 simple ways to curb Hot Flashes
Photos courtesy of Unsplash: : Katherine Hanl, Lisa Hobbs, Chris Rhoads
Faith Whittier M.D.