Menopause is the natural cessation of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. It usually occurs between 45-55 years of age. At menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs and her fertility hormones decrease.
Ayurveda views menopause not as a disease but as a transition period. It is a very important time in a woman’s life where she has an opportunity to prioritise care for her health and wellbeing in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually.
What happens at menopause?
Ayurveda has divided the lifespan of 100 years into three parts: the first 25years, the age of preparation, growth and development; the next 25 years (to age 50), the age of achievement and maturity; and the rest of life (after age 50 years), the age of life experience.
According to Ayurveda, different phases of our life are marked by a predominance of different doshas. Kapha is naturally predominant from birth to puberty, pitta is naturally predominant from puberty until mid-life, and vata is predominant after the age of 50 years.
Menopause accompanies the transition from the pitta to vata phases of life. Generally, menopause shows increases in vata and pitta, and little change in kapha.
Women have reported a wide range of symptoms during menopause. Not all women have severe symptoms but may have some degree of one or more of these:
Cyclical changes such as irregularity or heavy bleeding
Dry skin, hair and nails
Insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations
Scattered thoughts & poor memory
Confusion or difficulty concentrating
Mood swings and irritability
Hot flushes and night sweats
Headaches or migraine
Unnatural weight gain
Increased frequency of urination or incontinence
Increased possibility of urinary tract infection
Muscle and joint pain and inflammation
Osteopenia and over time, increased risk of osteoporosis.
Ayurvedic management of menopause
Happily, in the ayurvedic tradition, menopause is totally manageable. The symptoms are preventable and there are highly effective remedies available to treat the underlying causes of menopausal symptoms.
After an initial assessment of mind-body constitution and current symptoms by an ayurvedic physician, ayurvedic treatment can be tailored to the patient.
The main goal of ayurvedic treatment is to establish the balance of vata and pitta doshas, improve the digestive fire (agni) and eradicate toxins (ama) from the body.
Diet and lifestyle advice for menopause
The doctrine of ayurvedic medicine is “prevention is better than cure”. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and reducing stress provides the foundation of wellbeing for everyone. Ayurvedic recommendations for menopause include:
Introduce a Vata-Pitta pacifying diet, that is warm, light, cooked, fresh and unctuous (containing good oils) food.
Avoid dry, cold, fermented, left-over foods, refined sugar and red meats.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Regular, mild-moderate exercise is good to combat the symptoms. Exercises that relax the nervous system, such as walking, yoga, tai chi and meditation are excellent.
To calm vata, it is very important to create regular routines around your sleep, food, work, exercise and family time.
Daily self-massage with warm oil (abhyanga) and nasal medication (nasya) where you place some drops of oil in each nostril can assist with hormonal balancing.
Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma) for menopause
Panchakarma is the process of removing toxins from the body. Ayurvedic physicians tailorpanchakarma according to the state of the patient’s doshas.
Medicated ghee is orally administered for few days to prepare the stubborn toxins (ama).
Medicated purgation (Virechana) is very effective in calming down the aggravated pitta doshas and blood tissues.
Medicated enemas (Vasti) are administered for calming down the aggravated vata doshas and apana vata which become disordered during menopause.
Medicated nasal oil (Nasya) helps with the symptoms of mind and head.
Pouring herbal oil or decoction over the scalp (Shirodhara) is an effective therapy for calming the nervous system and balancing the neuro-transmitters.