The menstrual cycle is a necessary peril for female health. It brings a monthly change in her body that is often accompanied by discomforts such as pain, cramps, headaches, bloating, lack of energy and interest.
While these symptoms are frequently associated with menstruation, it is quite interesting to know that Ayurveda considers any symptoms as indications of hidden health disorders that need your attention.
Menstrual Cycle in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, menstruation is considered as a time to cleanse and rejuvenate. Menstrual cycle provides the female body an opportunity to flush out the toxins and impurities on a regular basis. Along with toxins, some amount of Ojas – purest form of energy is also lost during the menstrual cycle.
In Ayurveda, Menstrual flow is considered to be made up of Plasma and Blood tissues. These tissues are also the first ones to be exposed to any imbalance in Dosha and hence they get vitiated, leading to health issues such as cramps, anxiety, burning sensation, headaches, pain in back and abdomen, constipation, and bloating, etc.
As the whole energy of the body is channelized towards the cleanse, menstruation requires ample of rest and a nourishing diet to help the body and senses rejuvenate.
Vihara – Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Menstrual Cycle
- One needs to avoid excessive physical work. Since the body lacks energy, slow down during menstruation, take rest, and indulge in nil or relaxing activities such as slow walks, balancing yoga, and pranayama. Too much physical activity vitiates Vata Dosha and is often the reason behind delayed and painful periods for athletes.
- Avoid excessive talking, loud noises, and loud laughter. The primary reason behind this is again to keep the Vata Dosha in balance and also not to stress the sensory system. Mentally relaxing activities would support your rejuvenation process and allow you to get recharged after menstruation.
- Avoid or do not indulge in sexual intercourse. Reason for this is to avoid vitiation of Vata Dosha, hence painful periods.
- Do not sleep during the day time as it leads to vitiation of Kapha Dosha and hence makes you prone to allergies. While resting is recommended, sleeping is prohibited during the day time. This is emphasized even more for Kapha dominant females.
- Follow a balanced routine that includes sleeping early (before 10 PM) and getting up early (before 6 AM). This will your natural Circadian rhythm to be in balance and also keep your Dosha in check.
- Do not suppress natural urges such as urination, defecation, and sneezing. This is to avoid change in the direction flow of Vata Dosha from downward to upward.
- Eat at consistent times during menstruation (although this holds true for most the days, but more during periods). Do not suppress hunger and do not overeat.
- No alcohol should be consumed during menstruation. Alcohol increases both Vata and Pitta Dosha, leading to excessive dryness, pain, excessive bleeding, and burning sensation.
List of Herbs and Spices to ensure a healthy Menstrual Flow
Herbs and Spices are an integral part of the Ayurvedic Diet. They promote digestion, provide one with essential nutrients and antioxidants, and relax your senses. Following herbs and spices would support a healthy flow and pain-free menstrual cycle. They should be included in the diet during and after the menstruation, some on a regular basis and the rest during the periods.
- Tulsi or Holy Basil
- Black Pepper
- Aloe Vera
- Kachnar Guggulu
- Carom Seeds or Leaves
- Curry Leaves
Food Habits for Healthy Menstrual Cycle
Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food! This is a popular saying and one of the basic pillars of Ayurveda. A healthy and balanced diet nourishes your body and supports the vital energy of life.
- Since the digestive system weakens down during menstruation, one needs to avoid cold, heavy, sour, and hot foods.
- Do not consume processed foods, extremely oily, burnt or grilled foods. Avoid chili altogether.
- Consume warm, unctuous, easily digestible, and lightly spiced foods.
- A light diet that consists of easily digestible vegetables, grain forms, and fruits should be consumed. It should be lightly spiced up with digestion promoting spices and herbs such as cinnamon, black pepper, mint, carom seeds, ginger, and cardamom.
- Do not overeat. Consume food in small portions such that they are easy to digest and do not overload the digestive system.
- Use healthy fats such as ghee, mustard oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil during menstruation to prepare your meals.
- Stop or reduce caffeine during menstruation. Caffeine increases Vata Dosha and Pitta Dosha. It also reduces sleep.
Reduce your salt and sugar intake. For sugar, replace it with natural sweeteners such as molasses, jaggery, and honey.
- Hydrate the body well with herbal teas and concoctions during menstruation. This will nurture your body and mind and also balance the Vata Dosha. Use herbs such as Cardamom, Ginger, Fennel, Saffron, and Cinnamon. This will also kindle your digestive fire.
Ahara – Foods for a nourishing diet during Menstruation
Here is the list of some foods that you should include in your diet to stay energetic and calm.
- Winter Melon
- Snake Gourd
- Pointed Gourd
- Ridge Gourd
- Bottle Gourd
- Sweet Potato
- Curry Leaves
- Raw Papaya and Ripe Papaya
- Raw Banana and Ripe Banana
- Milk and milk products – in moderation
- Green Beans
- Nuts and Seeds in moderation
- Lentils and Beans – Mung Beans, Pigeon Peas, Horse Gram
- Fruits as dates, apricots, peaches, mango, melon, pineapple, banana, papaya, jackfruit etc