PMS & Menstruation – Bringing Mensural harmony with Dosha Balancing

In Ayurveda, the menstrual cycle has its very own Vata, Kapha and Pitta stage. How can this help? Before we go further into details, let us have a little understanding of vata, pitta & kapha. 

The central concept of Ayurvedic medicine is the theory that health exists when there is a balance between the three fundamental bodily bio-elements or doshas called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. 

● Vāta or Vata is characterized by the properties of dry, cold, light, minute, and movement. All movement in the body is due to properties of vata. Pain is the characteristic feature of deranged or unbalanced vata. 

● Pitta represents metabolism. It is characterized by heat, moistness, liquidity, and sharpness and sourness. Its chief quality is heat. It is the energy principle which uses bile to direct digestion and enhance metabolism. Unbalanced pitta is primarily characterized by body heat or a burning sensation and redness. 

● Kapha is the watery element. It is characterized by heaviness, coldness, tenderness, softness, slowness, lubrication, and the carrier of nutrients. It is the nourishing element of the body. All soft organs are made by Kapha and it plays an important role in the perception of taste together with nourishment and lubrication. 

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is the name for the symptoms women can experience in the weeks before their period. Most women have PMS at some point. Each woman’s symptoms are different and can vary from month to month. Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms prior to menstruation. These symptoms qualify as PMS in 20 to 30% of pre-menopausal women. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of 

PMS that has greater psychological symptoms. PMDD affects three to eight per cent of pre-menopausal women. You can seek help if it starts affecting your daily life. 

The most common symptoms of PMS include: 

● mood swings 

● feeling upset, anxious or irritable 

● tiredness or trouble sleeping 

● bloating or tummy pain 

● breast tenderness 

● headaches 

● spotty skin or greasy hair 

● changes in appetite and sex drive 

What Causes PMS 

Still, the causes of PMS are not clear, but several factors may be involved. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle seem to be an important factor; changing hormone levels affect some women more than others. The loss of hormone Progesterone, a central nervous system depressant, is the base of the PMS. Chemical changes in the brain, stress, and emotional problems, such as depression, do not seem to cause PMS but they may make it worse. Low levels of vitamins and minerals, high sodium, alcohol, and/or caffeine can exacerbate symptoms such as water retention and bloat. PMS occurs more often in women who are between their late 20s and early 40s; have at least 1 child; have a family history of depression, and have a past medical history of either postpartum depression or a mood disorder. 

Ayurvedic point of view: 

PMS is caused by the imbalance in doshas. More specifically apana vata.It is one of the subtypes of vata. Apana vata is located in the lower pelvic region and is responsible for the elimination of menstrual blood, stool, urine and reproductive fluids. On the onset of menstruation, apana vata in the body increases and produces symptoms like disturbed digestion, headache, flatulence and more. It also causes the aggravation of prana vata which is located in the head and brain and is linked to anxiety and mood disorders. 

While there is no physical examination that can diagnose PMS, Ayurveda can help in balancing out the doshas that cause its symptoms. In general the condition can be managed by taking some herbs, meditation, maintaining a regular lifestyle with some exercise and taking time to rest and relax, avoiding overstimulation.

Self help guide 

Here is your self help guide to identify which dosha is imbalance and how to deal with it. 

Vata Imbalance 

Symptoms 

Nervous tensions, anxiety, mood disorders, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, forgetfulness, confusion, constipation, cramps, backache and headache. 

vata pacifying food 

Go for foods that are sweet, sour and salty, warm liquid dishes with smooth textures such as soups. Avoid raw or cold food. 

Herbs & home remedies 

You can try a combination of brahmi, ashwagandha, jatamansi and guduchi to cope with emotional symptoms. 

According to The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Dr. Vasant Lad: 

● Dashamoola tea, (1/2 teaspoon dashamoola steeped in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes), you can add a little honey for taste. Taking it twice a day a week before your periods can be effective. 

● 10 cherries daily on an empty stomach for a week before the onset of menstruation. 

● 1 tbsp of aloe vera gel with a pinch of black pepper, thrice a day. 

Wellness Recommendations 

Ayurvedic massage ( Abhyanga ) with Sesame oil followed by a Steam (swedana) that helps relieve constipation, cramps and dryness and a (foot massage) Padabhyanga to overcome insomnia. 

Yoga postures & Breathing technique 

A few yoga asanas that can help are Ushtrasana, Gomukhasana, Bhujangasana and Pavanamuktasana. Pranayamas like Nadi Shodhana and Anulomaviloma are also helpful. 

Pitta Imbalance 

Symptoms 

Irritability, anger, increased appetite, headache, the feeling of excess heat, diarrhoea and skin rashes. 

Vata pacifying food 

Opt for foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent, cooling and in a liquid form. Avoid food that are hot, spicy, salty or sour. 

Herbs & home remedies 

Shatavari and kumari are the best to deal with a pitta imbalance. 

According to author Dr. Vasant Lad: 

● Herbal mixture of shatavari (2 parts), brahmi (1 part) and musta (1 part). Taking half a teaspoon of the mixture twice a day with warm water is effective. 

● Aloe vera gel (1 tablespoon) taken with a pinch of cumin powder can also help ease the symptoms to a great extent. 

Wellness Recommendations 

Ayurvedic massage with coconut oil to keep the body cool and Shirodhara for more restful sleep. A few practices you can do at home too is rinsed the external genital area twice daily with cool water. Avoid hot water on the head and overexposure to sunlight. 

Yoga postures and breathing technique 

Try the Naukasana and Dhanurasana yoga postures and Sheetali pranayama.

Kapha Imbalance 

Symptoms 

Weight gain, breast tenderness, bloating, lethargy, loss of appetite, oversleeping and depression. 

Kapha pacifying foods 

Consume foods that are light, dry, warm, spicy, bitter and astringent. Stay away from foods that are oily, sweet, sour and salty. 

Herbs & Home remedies 

A combination of shatavari, ashwagandha, trikatu have proved to be beneficial in this case. 

According to Dr. Vasant Lad: 

● Herbal mixture of punarnava (2 parts), kutki(1 part) and musta( 2 parts). Taking half a teaspoon of the mixture twice a day with warm water is effective. 

● A tablespoon of aloe vera gel with half a teaspoon of Trikatu(an ancient Ayurvedic concoction made with equal parts of black pepper, pippali and ginger) can help immensely. 

Wellness Recommendations 

An ayurvedic massage with dry herbal powders ( Udvartana) and Abhyanga followed by a hot water bath. If you are at home, avoid sleeping during the day. 

Yoga postures and breathing techniques 

Yogic postures like Surya Namaskar and spinal twists can be helpful. You can also try Bhastrika and Kapalbhati forms of pranayama. Aerobic exercises are also recommended by experts. 

Keynote 

Sometimes more than one dosha presents itself as contributing to the imbalanced state. My recommendation is to focus on the one dosha which is most aggravated and start there. And if you are completely confused about which direction to take, follow the guidance for balancing Vata. Vata has a “subdosha” called apana vayu (discussed above) that governs the function of menstruation. When this is tended to and properly cared for, many PMS symptoms are alleviated. 

Ayurveda’s simple tea From the experience and practice of years, I have found the following combination of tea very effective to deal with PMS especially when more than one dosha is involved. It is made from simmering cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and carom seeds and ginger. This tea can be kept hot in a thermos and sipped throughout the day. 

Ingredients: 

● 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds 

● 1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds 

● 1⁄2 teaspoon carom seeds 

● About an inch size fresh ginger 

● 4 cups of water Directions: 

1. Boil 4 cups of water in a small pot. 2. Add the cumin, fennel, carom seeds and ginger. Let your ingredients simmer for about 15 mins on medium heat. Once the tea is finished simmering for a few minutes, it’s time to enjoy it! 

Last but not the leas , I also believe that self-awareness is a great way to help anticipate, plan and manage PMS symptoms. From my personal experience, A simple routine of keeping a diary of the type of symptoms you are experiencing; their severity and duration can be greatly helpful because penning down how you are feeling also declutters your thoughts and helps your mind and body deal with what you are going through. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone and that how you are feeling can be managed healed and overcome. 

There is often an individual approach and fine-tuning with these recommendations. While all of these guidelines are supportive measures, it’s best to have PMS assessed by an Ayurvedic practitioner for a customized treatment program. 

Consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner about what would be best for you and how you can use herbal medicine customized to your specific needs. To find an Ayurvedic consultant in your area you may visit srisriayurveda.de 

Medical Disclaimer All information presented is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any condition or individual. I / We strongly recommend that if any condition persists that you seek the advice of a qualified health professional.