PMS and Ayurveda
By Dr. Anju Sodhi (BAMS, ND)
Premenstrual syndrome, PMS, (also known as premenstrual tension) is familiar to over 95% percent of females. 1 Most people think of the psychological symptoms which include irritability, depression, and anxiety that occur during the last week of luteal phase of menstrual cycle. Physical symptoms also occur in some women. This could include bloating, mastalgia (tender breasts), abdominal discomfort, and lack of energy. This is a time when strong food cravings occur.
Ayurveda views PMS as a Vata imbalance. Vata is the moving force for doshas, made of ether and air. Hormonal acne associated with menses, anger and irritability is Vata’s wind pushing the fires of Pitta. Pitta is the transformation energy, made of fire and water. The weight gain, low energy, and liquid retention are Vata interacting with Kapha. Kapha is the structural entity, made of earth and water. Anxiety, bloating, and exhaustion are signs of high Vata during this part of the menstrual cycle. Luckily, women everywhere can use simple measures to reduce all symptoms of PMS, reducing Vata and bring more days of bliss to every month.
Eating a whole foods diet is a step towards general health improvements. Many processed foods contain ingredients that directly affect hormone responses. Reducing these chemicals can greatly reduce PMS symptoms. Cooked vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli with spices allow for easy digestion and naturally contain the chemical formulas that the body needs to reduce PMS symptoms. Legumes provide nutrients such as lignans and phytoestrogens that assist in estrogen metabolism. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can greatly reduce PMS. Reducing PMS requires good diet and exercise during the whole month. It is imperative that a woman reduce her exercise regime during the week of menses. The extra movement disrupts the flow of Vata. During the week of menses, light walking and gentle yoga will keep the body healthy. Through the rest of month, exercise at normal levels is welcome and necessary.
Drinking anise, tulsi, or fennel tea during the first week of the luteal phase of the menstruation cycle will help reduce PMS symptoms before they occur. Dill seed tea during the second week of the phase will keep other symptoms from cropping up.
Removing beauty products that contain unnecessary chemicals is another way to support the control of PMS. One specific example is face cleansers. They contain chemicals that do indeed deep cleanse the skin, but also soak in through the pores and add a chemical load that affects the female organs and hormonal balance. Using natural cleansers without synthetic parabens, sulfates, and ethanol is best to keep hormone altering molecules out of your body.
Herbs are another step of reducing PMS symptoms. Aloe vera has been used as a restorative agent for the female reproductive system for eons.2 It is useful during all phases of the menstruation cycle. Vitamin B6 has been shown in various studies to reduce PMS symptoms. It is thought that during PMS, energy levels plummet due to the body preparing for menses. Mitochondria are stressed. B6 supports mitochondria and provides building materials for energy molecules.1,3 Bamboo manna is used to reduce Pitta during the luteal phase and during menses. Symplocos racemosa reduces heavy bleeding during menses but also has been shown to reduce abdominal discomfort prior to and during menses4. Saraca indica is the reliever of grief. Not only is this herb great for mental health, it has an affinity for female reproduction. It directs Vata to be healthy and improves general detoxification function.5,6 Centella asiatica improves cognition but also helps in providing better energy to the mind. Like diet, these herbs balance different parts of the body during different parts of the cycle, providing harmony during the ever changing body. Regu-Cycle contains these herbs in an easy to take capsule in quantities that synergize with each other.
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4. Tan RX, Tang HQ, Hu J, Shuai B. Lignans and sesquiterpene lactones from Artemisia sieversiana and Inula racemosa. Phytochemistry. 1998;49(1):157-161. doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(97)00889-3.
5. Singh G, Singh AT, Abraham A, et al. Protective effects of Terminalia arjuna against Doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;117(1):123-129. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.01.022.
6. Mishra A, Kumar A, Rajbhar N, Kumar A, College P. Phytochemical and Pharmacological Importance of Saraca indica. 2013;2(2):1009-1013.