Did you know that Pre-Menstrual Syndrome or PMS as it is more commonly known, is suffered by 3 out of every 4 women? It typically occurs in during the child bearing years starting in the late 20s and going right to the 40s. Studies have shown that symptoms only worsen during a woman's late 30s and 40s as the body starts transitioning towards menopause.
It is unfortunately an uncomfortable fact of life that can impact social health, work productivity and even the emotional state.
Ayurveda believes that PMS is caused by the imbalance in doshas. More specifically apana vata. Apana vata is located in the lower pelvic region and is responsible for elimination of menstrual blood, stool, urine and reproductive fluids.
On the onset of menstruation, apana vata in the body increases and produces symptoms like disturbed digestion, headache, flatulence and more. It also causes the aggravation prana vata which is located in the head and brain and is linked to anxiety and mood disorders.
While there is no physical examination that can diagnose PMS, Ayurveda can help in balancing out the doshas that cause its symptoms.
The condition can be managed by meditation, maintaining a regular lifestyle with plenty of exercise and taking time to rest and relax, avoiding over stimulation.
However, here is how you can identify and determine the dosha imbalance that is causing symptoms of PMS and help your body deal with it:
Symptoms include nervous tensions, anxiety, mood disorders, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, forgetfulness, confusion, constipation, cramps, backache and headache.
Go for foods that are sweet, sour and salty, warm liquid dishes with smooth textures such as soups. Avoid raw or cold food.
You can also try and include a combination of brahmi, ashwagandha, jatamamsi and guduchi to cope with emotional symptoms.
At Naad Wellness, we recommend Abhyanga followed by a swedana that helps relieves constipation, cramps and dryness and a Padabhyanga to overcome insomnia.
A few yoga asanas that can help are Ushtrasana, Gomukhasana, Bhujangasana and Pavanamuktasana. Pranayamas like Nadi Shodhana and Anulomaviloma are also helpful.
Symptoms include irritability, anger, increased appetite, headache, feeling of excess heat, diarrhoea and skin rashes.
Opt for foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent, cooling and in a liquid form. Avoid food that are hot spicy, salty or sour.
Herbs like shatavari and kumari are the best to deal with a pitta imbalance.
At Naad, we enable Abhyanga with coconut oil to keep the body cool and Shirodhara for more restful sleep.
A few practices you can do at home too is rinse the external genital area twice daily with cool water. Avoid hot water on the head and over exposure to sunlight.
Try the Naukasana and Dhanurasana yoga postures and Sheetali pranayama.
Symptoms include weight gain, breast tenderness, bloating, lethargy, loss of appetite, over-sleeping and depression.
Consume foods that are light, dry, warm, spicy, bitter and astringent. Stay away from foods that are oily, sweet, sour and salty.
A combination of shatavari, ashwagandha, trikatu have proved to be beneficial in this case.
If you are at home, avoid sleeping during the day.
At Naad, we enable therapies like Udvartanam with dry herbal powders and Abhyanga followed by a hot water bath.
Aerobic exercises are the best and even yogic postures like Suryanamaskaras and spinal twists can be helpful. You can also try Bastrika and Kapalbhati forms of pranayama.
Lastly, I also believe that self-awareness is a great way to help anticipate, plan and manage PMS symptoms.
A simple habit like keeping a diary of the type of symptoms you are experiencing; their severity and duration can be immensely helpful.
I don't encourage this only from a medical perspective but also because penning down how you are feeling also declutters your thoughts and helps your mind and body deal with what you are going through.
The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and that how you are feeling can be easily healed and overcome.
Feel free to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org if I can answer any questions on PMS that you may have.
About the author: An MD from SSR Ayurveda Medical College and a graduate of the JSS Ayurveda Medical College, Dr. Sreelakshmi brings with her an experience of over five years, having worked with renowned Ayurvedic hospitals through the span of her career.