Menopause Redefined

In the West menopause is likened to a disease, with women often under a physician's care for treatment.

In the Maharishi Ayurvedic tradition, menopause is viewed not as a disease but as a transitional imbalance. Just as imbalances in the body arise due to the change of seasons, changes in weather, and the changing influence of the sun, moon and planets, menopause is a natural transition in a woman's life. And just as Maharishi Ayurveda explains how to avoid imbalances in other transitional periods of life, it explains how to avoid imbalances during menopause.

These transitions from one stage of life to the next are natural, and menopause itself is manageable through Maharishi Ayurveda. To use an analogy, there may be bumps in the road due to changing from one sort of pavement to another, but if you know the bumps are coming, you can take precautions to slow down so you don't blow out your tires.

Change is unavoidable and Maharishi Ayurveda offers concrete lifestyle and dietary guidelines to make those transitions smooth. This is the value of the seasonal routine (ritucharya), and this is the value of the special ayurvedic guidelines for the other changes in a woman's life: puberty, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause. The wisdom offered by Maharishi Ayurveda helps the transitions happen smoothly, without discomfort or health issues.

Impurities (Ama) and health

A factor leading to menopausal imbalances is the accumulation of digestive impurities (called ama) in the physiology, often caused by eating a diet of fast foods; foods with chemicals and preservatives; and packaged, canned, frozen or leftover foods. Ama blocks the channels that transport nutrition to the cells and remove waste from the body, and thus ama contributes to disease and aging, including menopausal problems. Generally, in the view of Maharishi Ayurveda, if a woman has had problems in the years before menopause with accumulation of ama, then the issues associated with menopause are likely to be worse. A third factor is the misuse and overuse of the mind, body, emotions, or senses. This happens when a woman strains her mind too much, is under too much ongoing stress or pressure, or is doing work that is too "heavy" for her body, or is under tremendous emotional stress.

The most important thing is to prevent Pitta and Vata imbalances, and to keep the body free of ama before menopause begins. First of all, it's important to understand that not all women will experience the same problems. Some will have more hot flashes, some more mood swings, others a memory problem, and others a loss of libido. Very few will have all of these. And some women will have no issues at all.

Food and Menopause Issues: The Maharishi Ayurvedic View

If you start to have any of the Pitta-based problems of menopause, be sure to follow a Pitta-pacifying diet. Avoid foods that are spicy, such as chilies, cayenne and black mustard seed. Salty foods and foods that are sour, such as yogurt (unless it is diluted and sweetened in a drink called lassi) and sour fruits such as ketchup, mustard, and other salad dressings and condiments made with vinegar should also be avoided.

Favor foods that are bitter, astringent and sweet, as these are cooling to Pitta dosha. Bitter and astringent foods include most vegetables. Sweet foods include rice, milk and cream, sweet lassi, wheat products, and pasta. Sweet, juicy fruits such as pears and plums also pacify Pitta dosha. Cook with Pitta-reducing spices, such as cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, fennel and small amounts of cumin seed.

If you start to have some Vata-related signs of menopause such as memory loss or vaginal dryness, you'll want to work at bringing Vata dosha back into balance. For this, you'll want to eat foods that are cooked, warm, and unctuous (meaning that they have a small amount of good fats such as ghee and olive oil). Eat foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as this balances Vata dosha. Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day. Eat plenty of cooked, leafy greens, as this helps elimination and is also a good source of calcium. For both Pitta and Vata imbalances, a breakfast of cooked apples and prunes and figs is a good way to start the day, as it balances the doshas and cleanses the digestion.

Avoid eating foods that are packaged, processed, frozen, canned or left over. Eat organic foods that are cooked fresh each day. The bulk of your diet should consist of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and light dairy products such as milk, lassi or panir for protein. This type of light but nourishing diet will aid your digestion and avoid the build-up of ama. Avoid heavy foods such as meat, cheese, yogurt and frozen desserts like ice cream, especially at night.

Sleep is an important area of concern. To keep both doshas in balance and to sleep more deeply at night, be sure you're in bed before 10:00 p.m. and that you arise before 6:00 a.m.

The morning abhyanga, or ayurvedic oil massage, is extremely important for preventing menopausal problems. Use the Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Women. This oil is designed to increase circulation, calm Vata dosha, and provide needed moisture to the skin. For both Pitta and Vata dosha, it's important not to skip meals, and to eat your main meal at noon, when digestion is the strongest. Try to eat at the same time every day, and go to bed and wake up at the same time.

Maharishi Ayurveda Herbs For Women's Health

The Graceful Transition line of supplements as a whole is designed to prevent and address the imbalances related to menopause. It provides general support and also targets specific imbalances that women experience before, during and after menopause. The Graceful Transition line includes these products: Hot Flash Relief, Midlife for Women I, and Midlife for Women II. In addition, the program includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations to correct specific imbalances during menopause.

Hot Flash Relief is designed to repair all of these imbalances in order to cool the body and reduce hot flashes during menopause. Dietary tips for reducing hot flashes: follow a Pitta-pacifying diet; don't eat anything that aggravates Pitta; favor more sweet, juicy fruits; consume Organic Rose Petal Spread; and start the day with a stewed apple.

Keep your home environment cool, pleasant and loving. Fill your garden and home with roses. For daily abhyanga (ayurvedic oil massage), use 50% Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Women. This will calm and balance the emotions and support coordination of body, mind and heart.

To support balanced emotions and to counteract mood swings, I'd recommend taking Stress Free Emotions along with a Pitta-pacifying diet. If you feel critical or upset, try eating a sweet, juicy pear or take a teaspoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread. It's very important to take care of emotional imbalances when they first appear, because if they aren't addressed they can cause major problems and even lead to early menopause. So it's very important to keep Sadhaka Pitta in balance at all times.

The various herbs in Stress Free Emotions combine to do three things: enhance coordination between mind and emotions, cleanse the channels between heart and mind, and nourish the heart and mind.

In general, take only two of the Graceful Transition formulas at one time, and in special cases up to three. But if you feel you have three or more issues, it's best to consult a physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda, who can determine the primary cause through nadi vigyan (pulse diagnosis). This is also a good idea if you are taking other herbal formulas or medications.

The book, A Woman's Best Medicine: Health, Happiness, and Long Life through Maharishi Ayur-Veda, by Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., Veronica Butler, M.D. and Melanie Brown, Ph.D. gives a deep understanding of menopause, its imbalances, and the causes of specific problems. It also outlines a complete self-care program for taking care of those problems and removing the imbalances at their source.

Midlife for Women I and Midlife for Women II should be taken along with the new targeted formulas from the Graceful Transition line. Midlife for Women I (for preparing for menopause) and Midlife for Women II (for during menopause) provide overall support. A woman needs both types of nourishment and support — general and specific. In addition Maharishi Amrit Kalash is the considered the supreme rasayana, or herbal elixir, for overall balance and youthfulness, so it can be taken in addition to two other herbal formulas.

Osteoporosis is, of course, another problem often associated with menopause. The Calcium Support formula is a vegetarian source of calcium that is easily absorbed and safe. Since one of the problems with calcium supplements is that they are often not absorbed by the body, this formula focuses on absorption, and contains herbs that enhance absorption of calcium.

In the view of Maharishi Ayurveda, menopause is not seen as a disease, but a completely natural, beautiful transition.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.