The menstrual cycle is a monthly internal cleansing process which not only helps maintain the reproductive system but the entire body. When menstruation stops, the body loses an important cleansing mechanism. Ayurveda considers menopause as the beginning of a transition in a woman’s life. It can be quite uncomplicated for those who follow a healthy diet and lifestyle.
According to Indian philosophy, the menopausal period is spiritually significant as it marks the beginning of the journey into vanaprastha ashram, where one prepares oneself for a spiritual life learning to let go, to grow in awareness and to embark on an inward journey. Menopause should be approached with a positive outlook rather than considering it a crisis.
Menopause is also a transition from a pitta dominant stage of life to a vata dominant stage. Imbalance in the bioenergies can cause symptoms like
- Dry skin, hair, and nails
- Low libido
- Scattered thoughts
- Poor memory
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings and irritability
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Headaches or migraine
- Vaginal dryness
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Muscle and joint pain and inflammation
Ayurveda’s holistic approach to menopause by utilizing various herbs, treatments, diet, and exercise offers a truly reliable option. Establishing a daily routine suitable for the body’s bioenergy status and taking special care to address the imbalances after consulting a qualified Ayurveda doctor should be the first step.
General diet and lifestyle guidelines
- Increasing intake of warm, freshly cooked foods and drinks, maintaining a regular eating schedule, and staying hydrated is important.
- Include phytoestrogens-rich foods like soybeans, chickpeas, mung beans, carrots, pomegranates, asparagus, flax seeds, sesame seeds, oats, and yams.
- Organic dairy, dates, figs, raisins, almonds, cucumbers, melons, ghee and coconut water are good.
- Spice your tea with cumin, fennel, coriander, and turmeric.
- Avoid excessive intake of salt, chilies, spices, sour foods, and pickles.
- Stay away from things that trigger hot flashes, such as hot beverages, spicy foods, hot weather, red wine.
- Decrease intake of caffeine and other stimulants, refined sugar, cold drinks, and raw salads.
- Avoid junk food and carbonated drinks.
- Drink water boiled with vetiver roots, shatavari, or coriander seeds.
- Daily oil massage with sesame or coconut oil is beneficial.
- Make sure you have regular, healthy bowel movements.
- Restorative slow calming yoga postures, and mild exercises can be practiced. Avoid sun salutations and heat-building exercise, asanas and pranayama.
- Practicing Nadi Shodhana pranayama, deep breathing, meditation, Yoga Nidra or other relaxation techniques is very helpful.
- Brisk evening walk on the beach, in the park and moon bathing is advised.
- Get 7–8 hours of sleep at night.
- Vaginal tampon with sesame oil helps combat vaginal dryness.
- Panchakarma detox once a year will help sail through this phase smoothly.
- Herbs like shatavari, ashwaganda, ashoka, brahmi, sariva, amla, etc. and many herbal formulations are proven to be clinically effective for treating menopausal symptoms, but they should be taken only under the guidance of a qualified Ayurveda doctor.
Aparna K. BAMS, MD, PhD
Consultant advisor for development of Oneworld Ayurveda and visiting physician
Aparna is one of the few specialists in the world with a PhD in Ayurveda. Born into an Ayurvedic family which operates a traditional Ayurvedic Panchakarma hospital in Kerala, India, she grew up observing her father, the renowned Dr. Padmanabhan Read more »