Menstruation (periods) is a natural biological function that affects every woman. It represents femininity and fertility. But unfortunately, women are often made to feel embarrassed about periods, and society keeps reinforcing feelings of shame. More than half of the women surveyed (nearly 58%) admit feeling embarrassed about their periods. The severe pain, cramps, and other symptoms accompanying menstruation have often caused women to change their lifestyles for the duration of their periods.
But the worst part is over 40% of women have to make up a false explanation for their change in the routine because of the social stigma around periods. The social stigma and lack of education about this topic have led to period poverty. It leaves many women unable to manage periods safely and hygienically due to inaccessible and often unaffordable sanitary products. The World Bank estimates that over 500 million women and girls worldwide lack access to requisite facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
It severely affects all aspects of their lives, including education, work, and physical and mental health. Read ahead to discover how Ayurveda can enable women to take the right steps toward improving their menstrual health naturally.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Menstruation
Contrary to the popular social belief about periods being impure and inconvenient, the ancient and holistic science of Ayurveda views menstruation as an advantage only a woman can have. It is a natural monthly detox and self-purification process for their bodies. And the goal of Ayurveda is to support this cleansing process and help women manage it healthily.
The menstrual flow is a byproduct of one of the body’s fundamental dhatus (tissues): the rasa dhatu, or the plasma. Plasma carries various vital sources of nourishment for the body, including vitamins, minerals, water, and hormones. If the plasma layer is healthy, the menstrual flow is unrestricted, which allows for efficient movement of nutrients and easy removal of wastes.
The rakta dhatu, or the blood, is also a vital part of the menstrual flow that helps release excess Pitta.
In an ideal scenario, the menstrual discharge is monthly, at regular intervals, and without burning sensation or pain. But an imbalance in any or all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) can cause symptoms like severe pain and cramps (dysmenorrhea), bleeding, heavy menstrual flow, irregular discharge, etc.
Menstrual Self-Care with Ayurveda
Ayurvedic doctors prescribe certain basic guidelines for a healthy menstrual cleanse:
Women often experience decreased appetite during menstruation because their agni is lower at this time. They also show symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, heaviness, etc. Hence, it is important to consume a healthy, light, balanced, and home-cooked diet that is easily digestible.
Consider adding digestive spices like ginger, cardamom, saffron, coriander, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, fenugreek, black pepper, cloves, etc., for easy digestion and nutrient absorption by the body. Avoid consuming low-nutrient, high-calorie processed foods as they are hard to digest. The aim is to put the least possible stress on the digestive system and not pressurize the body during menstruation.
Get sufficient rest to rejuvenate the system
Proper sleep is important to rekindle the body’s agni, balance the doshas, and restore strength. Excessive talking, thinking, exercise, or other physical and mental activities can consume much energy from the body. Ayurvedic doctors recommend relaxing and meditating to maintain physical and mental balance.
During periods, the body moves the wastes down and out of the system. To aid this process, hydration is essential. Warm herbal teas (ginger tea, cumin-coriander-fennel tea, lemon tea with honey, etc.) can help with hydration and effective cleansing.
Besides that, it is also critical to maintain balance in the system when not menstruating. It is important to keep the doshas grounded and prevent the plasma and blood tissues from being impaired. To do so, the following tips can be beneficial:
- Maintain a healthy daily routine to keep the body in rhythm. It must include regular exercise, self-massage, and the right dietary habits.
- Eat well-balanced meals at regular intervals, preferably at the same time every day, and avoid binge eating.
- Doing pranayama for 15-20 minutes before sleeping can help balance the hormones and the overall body and mind.
- Regular yoga poses like Balasana, Baddha Konasana, Halasana, Setu Bandhasana, etc., can be incredibly helpful to balance the doshas and aid the health and function of the female reproductive system.
Essential Herbs for Menstrual Health
In addition to these dietary and lifestyle changes, ayurvedic doctors also recommend certain herbal support, such as
- Ashoka- an incredible herb for the female reproductive system, Ashoka aids in managing heavy bleeding and discomfort and acts as a uterine tonic. It helps with heavy cycles by removing excess tissue and wastes, toning the uterus, and alleviating both physical and psychological pains.
- Aloe Vera- is widely considered to be an incredible support for the female reproductive system. It helps cleanse the blood and plasma, alleviates gynecological disturbances, and has a cooling effect on the system.
- Guggulu- contains heating and cleansing properties, aids in moving out the waste, and is great for restoring gynecological balance
- Ashwagandha- helps reduce pitta, works as an adaptogen and tonic for the nervous system, and balances the Vata flow
- Shatavari- it acts as an adaptogen during times of stress on the body, balances the pitta, and holds a certain affinity for the female reproductive system
- Anatamul- pacifies the pitta, cleanses the blood, and acts as the cleanser and nourisher for the genitourinary tract
- Tulsi- a warming and nourishing herb that helps build the rasa dhatu and improves blood flow
- Triphala- aids the elimination of wastes from the gastrointestinal tract, removes toxins from the system, and rejuvenates the body
- Manjistha- removes stagnation and constriction in the reproductive tract, builds and cleanses the blood, and removes pitta
Improving Menstrual Health with Vijaya
One of the most common menstrual health conditions among women is dysmenorrhea, prevalent among 16% to 91% of women of reproductive age. It is characterized by severe pain and cramping during the periods. As per Ayurveda, this condition results from an imbalance in the Vata dosha.
To restore that balance, Ayurvedic doctorsprescribe consuming Trailokya Vijaya Vati. This effective formulation contains Vijaya as its prominent ingredient, a vital Ayurvedic herb revered for its efficacy in improving menstrual health.
In a research conducted by the University of British Columbia, over 85% of the women said that they preferred using Vijaya for their menstrual pain. And over 90% of them found the herb to be effective in alleviating their condition. Furthermore, a 2019 review concluded that Vijaya was effective in relieving chronic and acute menstrual pain, along with other symptoms like cramping.
This is because Vijaya directly interacts with the ECS, a complex cell-signaling system spread throughout the body which regulates various critical functions, including pain and inflammation. Vijaya binds with the ECS cannabinoid receptors in the reproductive system and prevents the release and transfer of pain signals.
By activating the receptors in the immune system, the herb reduces the hyperactivity in the immune cells and reduces inflammation in the body. This makes it effective for reducing cramping and other inflammatory responses in the system.
Conventional pharmaceuticals like opioids, NSAIDs, and other harmful and addictive medications are often used to alleviate these conditions, but they worsen the issue by causing side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding, strokes, headaches, heart attacks, stomach ulcers, etc. while increasing the risks of irreversible damage to other organ systems.
What makes Trailokya Vijaya Vatibeneficial is not only the efficacy of Vijaya but also the formulation’s safety profile. Its composition of herbal ingredients makes it safe for consumption and easily tolerable for patients.
This National Period Day, let us remove the stigma around periods and empower women with access to safe, natural, and effective menstrual healthcare through Ayurveda. Discover more by reaching out to Hempstreet.