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Menopause- An Ayurvedic view

Vd. Alakanda Rao

It was Sunday afternoon. Sara and her friends were enjoying their regular ritual of tea and warm talk with close friends. Lalita said some thing to Sara about being late and she burst into tears. Generally speaking all her friends knew Sara to be strong, courageous woman. No one had seen her crying even in most difficult incidences and emotional challenges in her life. Actually, she was the firm support to other girls when they needed help. And she was crying??!! ‘’This is what happens these days. I am going crazy perhaps… I don’t even know why I am so emotional and I can’t stop crying…” she said.

“Hey, blame it on hormones!!” all her friends shouted at once and Sara too started laughing.

After things were calm they all turned to their doctor friend that worked with Ayurveda. “Alka, please tell us what Ayurveda says about Menopause. We want to know it all… ” And she started explaining .

It is natural-

Just like puberty, menopause is natural phase in every woman’s life. Ayurveda believes that all natural processes of life happen without causing big trouble or symptoms. After the fertility phase is over, woman’s body settles in the new balance of hormones. Body changes from Pitta age and slowly starts going towards Vata stage. For some women this transition is smooth and easy. But for some others it is difficult and it may bring many symptoms.

What is Menopause and Perimenopause?

For a woman in her 50s , when the menstruation stops and does not come back for one year it is called menopause.

Much before the menopause, hormones start changing slowly and some changes in the menstrual cycle are observed. This stage is called Perimenopause. Women start Perimenopause at different ages. For some women it can run for several years before they get into menopause.

It is hard to predict when one would get into menopause but you can get some idea looking at the older women in your family.

If the menstruation cycle changes or stops abruptly it is always good to have a word with a family doctor and a check up with a gynaecologist to rule out other reasons that can stop the menstruation e.g. unexpected pregnancy, uterine tumour, etc

Some women have easy transition. But some suffer from symptoms like mood swings, irritability, heavy periods, vaginal dryness, low libido, hot flashes, night sweats, sleep problems, headaches, forgetfulness, weight gain, joint pain, osteoporosis, and so on. The complaints are related to the body type (Prakriti) and the disbalance of dosha in the body. E.g. Pitta prakriti or Pitta imbalance can cause hot flashes, night sweats, heavy blood flow, etc.

Hormone care starts early-

Women that take care of the body and mind through changing hormonal stages of menarche, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, post-natal care and lactation period have better transition to menopause. At every stage of hormone Ayurveda gives guidelines on how to take care of woman’s body . Menstrual regimen, pregnancy care and postnatal care are important for woman’s health and easy transition to menopause. Women, start thinking about hormone care at early stage in life. Also, educate your daughters early on.

Treatment for menopause-

For women of all age groups Ayurveda gives guidelines for hormone care. At menopause the Ayurvedic care focuses on body, mind, spirit balance. It offers effective remedies for the premenopausal complaints and deals with psychological issues as well. Oil massages, nasya( nose drops), oil tampons, lower belly massage, oil packs, diet changes, fasting, special food recipes prevent osteoporosis or anaemia and herbal supplements according to the specific needs of the woman are highlights of Ayurvedic management plan for Perimenopause and Menopause.

Geriforte, Shatavari, Shatavari ghritam, Ashwagandha, Bala, Sariva, Manjishta, Ashok, Ashoka Rishta, Pushaynug churna, Gokshura, Brahmi, Brahmi ghritam, Jatamansi, Gotukola, Krishna bol, Rakta bol, Nagkesar( yellow saffron), Durva, Chandraprabha, Loha kalpa, Praval bhasma, Godanti bhasma, ayurvedic calcium derivatives, etc are some of the important ayurvedic herbs and formulae used for menopause. Bala taila, Ksheerbala , Mahanarayan taila, Dhanwantaram taila, Nalpamaradi taila, Anu taila, Panchendriya Vardhan taila, Bhringraj taila, Brahmi taila, Bhringamlakadi taila are some examples of oils that are used. Selection of the herbs and oils depends on proper assessment of Prakriti, Vikruti, history of health, history of pregnancies, childbirth, miscarriages ,etc Yoga exercises, Pranayama, meditation, spiritual reading , counselling, gems, prayers, mantra , music, specific herbs like Brahmi are used to support the mind.

Ayurveda promotes natural methods of rejuvenation and antiaging remedies but does not use hormone replacement therapies. Acceptance of new stage in life and embracing it with open heart is the key to the easy transition into menopause.

(Copyright with Vd. Alakanda Rao)