Tips from Ayurveda to manage symptoms of menopause
By Rippan Sandhu
The transition to menopause is one that’s often dreaded by women. Hot flashes, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, and aches in muscles that were functioning perfectly even a year back - most menopausal women seem to experience at least one of these symptoms that plague them for years. If you are approaching menopause or are well into these seemingly troublesome years, we completely understand if it feels like there’s no respite from these menacing symptoms.
Although every woman’s body and experiences are unique, Ayurveda may be able to offer ways to help you manage your condition better. While Ayurveda considers menopause to be a phase of life predominant in Vata, menopausal symptoms can vary depending on your specific dosha. For example, a Pitta-dominant woman can be expected to experience hot flashes, skin inflammations, and high blood pressure, while a Kapha-dominant woman may experience sudden weight gain, water retention, and high cholesterol. So here are a few basic guidelines and tips drawn from ancient Ayurvedic practices to help you navigate this new phase in your life and cherish your body in all its glory!
If there is one thing that can heal, nourish and rejuvenate the body in a wholesome way, it is the food you eat. The body undergoes a tremendous amount of change as you move into menopause. Your hormonal balance changes which results in altered metabolism. Keeping these changes in mind, Ayurveda recommends that menopausal women try to consume food that helps pacify Vata without flaring up Pitta. Think of warm, well-cooked food spiced with fennel, coriander, and cumin to help improve digestion. It is also a good idea to stay away from inflammatory foods and drinks such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates, all of which can lead to rapid weight gain and contribute to hot flashes. Instead, a diet rich in good fats like fish, nuts, and seeds, and sweet, nourishing foods like berries, dates, and apples can help ease the transition.
Menopause leaving you feeling exhausted and out of your usual element? Ayurveda may be able to help. It is believed that certain traditional herbs may be beneficial for easing the symptoms of menopause. For instance, Ashwagandha is an excellent adaptogenic herb known for multiple benefits ranging from stress relief and joint support to hormonal balance. Another powerful herb, Shatavari, can help re-energise a sluggish body, enhance libido and support hormonal balance. When incorporated into your daily regimen, Ashwagandha and Shatavari can both help manage and reduce the intensity of your menopausal symptoms.
Ayurveda considers full-body oil massages to be integral to one’s wellbeing. And this is especially true for women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Abhyanga, which refers to a nurturing and nourishing oil massage in Ayurveda, when performed as a daily self-massage ritual, can not only relax your tensed muscles but can also help remove toxins from the body. Try massaging your pelvis and naval area with a half teaspoon of castor oil to relieve excess Vata, which is often the root cause of digestive irregularities and even osteoporosis in the long run. Daily oil massage can also help ease joint and muscle aches, a condition most menopausal women tend to deal with.
Experiencing frequent hot flashes or bouts of anxiety? Yoga and Pranayama are highly recommended by Ayurveda to help make your transition to menopause smoother and gentler. They teach you the art of breathing slowly and deeply, in a way that allows your body to release stress and cool itself down. Make this a part of your daily routine and dedicate 30-45 minutes for practicing breathing techniques. Use this time of the day to really focus on your body, its movements and your breathing. If you can, top this up with a daily walk in the outdoors to keep your body active and your mind refreshed. Not only do these activities keep your nerves calm, but they also help you sleep better at night. And ladies, we could all do with a night of deep, uninterrupted sleep, couldn’t we?
Menopause often presents itself in a way that wrecks havoc with our lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Think of it as a more mature phase in your life which, with a few tweaks, can be made equally fruitful and productive as your pre-menopause years. There has never been a better time to love and cherish your body and we hope some of these simple tips from Ayurveda will help you ease into menopause with grace and strength.