PMS: Medical Mystery with Unknown Cause; Maharishi Ayurveda Can Help
Some time ago, USA Today ran an article about a new scientific study which concluded that "PMS may result from a woman's abnormal response to normal fluctuations of reproductive hormones, particularly estrogen."
The article went on to say that doctors have suspected for years that changes in hormone levels before the monthly cycle can cause sadness, irritability and anxiety. Why this happens remains a "medical mystery." For example, the Mayo Clinic web site flatly admits that the cause of Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is unknown and that "an effective treatment still remains to be found."
All of this illustrates that the human body is a delicate balancing act, and never more so than during a woman's monthly cycle. Fortunately, Maharishi Ayurveda offers a complete understanding of this balancing act.
Western doctors, such as Dr. Mary Evans of the Mayo Clinic, have started to recommend behavioral changes such as getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and eating a healthy diet.
Maharishi Ayurveda concurs, but goes far beyond. This ancient science of health understands the variety of root causes and offers a wealth of techniques for re-creating balance — each targeted to specific situations.
However, a simple understanding lies at the basis of this comprehensive ayurvedic approach: menstruation is an opportunity, not a problem. It is a chance for a woman's body to purify. Respect that opportunity, facilitate it, and you will feel greater comfort.
This understanding alone helps many women. Take the case of Ginger M. When she was younger, she didn't let her period slow her down. "I wasn't the type to take it easy," she says. " Typically, I was out there doing everything I'd normally do." And she paid for it. Her periods became more and more difficult, and finally she developed adenomyosis, which involves a thickening of the lining of the uterus. Now she has a better understanding of her monthly cycle and, because of her condition, has been forced to approach it with greater respect.
Rest Brings Relief
For Ginger, that means staying at home as much as possible during menstruation. A woman's body goes through lots of changes and works hard to eliminate toxins. Nothing helps this process along more than simply taking it easy. She also tries to take a relaxing and leisurely 15-to-30-minute walk.
But Ginger is a writer living in a small town. It's easier to stay around home for a day, easier to take a walk. It's not so easy form many fast-track career women. Still, Ginger says, in her experience even if you have to go to work you can make allowances for yourself — not push quite so much, watch for opportunities to be more inward, and make a point of resting when you come home.
Rest. That's a key. Even Western medicine is coming around to that point of view. And diet is a second key.
Diet is Also Important
According to ayurveda, a lighter diet will make everything go more smoothly. That's Ginger's experience. "I find that it's a lot better if I eat light and easy-to-digest food — even mushy or liquid food. There can be less cramping and less bleeding."
While ayurveda gives useful guidelines such as more rest and a lighter diet, it also tells us why. These guidelines are based quite firmly on a science of balance which identifies three basic elements in the physiology — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — and a number of sub-elements. Health entails keeping Vata, Pitta and Kapha in the right balance.
In regard to the menstrual cycle, Vata needs special attention. Vata is the natural force that governs movement. For the monthly cycle to be comfortable, healthy and even beneficial, Vata must be in balance. Then there can be a smooth downward flow. Avoiding overstimulation is always helpful to soothe and balance Vata, which is why there's an emphasis on rest.
Vata is also soothed by a regular schedule. Ideal foods for balancing Vata are warm, liquid dishes with a smooth texture, such as soups and vegetable purées. Conversely, it's important to avoid raw or cold food or anything with a rough texture.
In addition to these guidelines, ayurveda also identifies natural herbs that help smooth out the monthly cycle. These herbs are combined and prepared in a meticulous formula named Smooth Cycle. This herbal formula helps aid digestion and remove toxins throughout the month so that the body has less work to do during the time of menstruation.
This formula also promotes hormonal and emotional balance, while nourishing the uterus and genitourinary tract. Plus, it balances coagulation to aid normal blood flow and avoid hemorrhaging.
How to Overcome PMS
Beyond the general recommendations for the menstrual cycle, ayurveda helps with the extreme discomfort of PMS.
Sally Robinson, a mother and registered nurse who most recently has been working as a holistic health professional, knows that extreme discomfort well. In the days preceding her period she went through serious mood swings: depression, irritability, anger, anxiety.
"It was hard on my family," she says. "I really couldn't be there for them at those times. I was too overwhelmed with all those negative emotions."
She found relief through the ayurvedic approach. She adopted a more regular routine and took advantage of a purifying treatment called panchakarma. "When you take care of yourself, you're more able to take care of others," she says. Now she feels that she has a more open heart and more energy. She feels lighter, happier, more in the moment and more in tune with her body.
Different Symptoms of PMS Can Indicate Different Imbalances
The varied symptoms of PMS can indicate different imbalances. In her book, "A Woman's Best Medicine," Dr. Veronica Butler identifies the range of symptoms and how they indicate specific imbalances. She cites research that suggests that the symptoms vary according to whether the underlying imbalance is in Vata, Pitta or Kapha.
Typical symptoms of a Vata imbalance during the premenstrual period are anxiety, nervous tension, mood swings and feeling "spaced out." For Pitta, however, the mood is more anger and irritation. Kapha, as always, is typified by lethargy.
As one might expect, preliminary research shows that those with a Vata imbalance get the best results from rest, meditation and a regular routine. Those with a Pitta imbalance respond best to monthly internal cleansing, and those with a Kapha imbalance find that herbal supplements and a diet which reduces impurities have the best effect.
An ayurvedic consultation can not only help identify the general type of imbalance, but can even identify more subtle areas.
The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians offers further insight. American women are under greater stress and pressure than other cultures. It cause an imbalance in the emotions. And when the tender feelings are frustrated, it upsets the menstrual cycle and purity of the blood, which can lead to PMS. So it's important to nurture the heart, or Sadhaka Pitta. It will help if you avoid emotional trauma and hot, spicy foods. The Blissful Joy herbal formula is very effective for balancing the emotions.
Dr. Butler says that there's no reason for the monthly cycle to be uncomfortable. A woman's life should be filled with joy and bliss every moment, including during the menstrual cycle. And she again emphasizes the importance of diet and rest. Just taking these few little steps to create balance will have a profound effect in the lives of women and their families.
Herbal Teamwork in the Maharishi Ayurveda Formula — Smooth Cycle
Shatavari, Lodh tree, Asoka tree, Mango, Sensitive plant, Boerhavia, Sacred fig, Mineral pitch, Corallium rubrum, Ferri sulphuratum, Mesua, Pavonia, Chaerophyllum acuminatum, Cyperus scariosus, Waterlily, Sandalwood, Chebulic myrobalan, Cumin, Ginger, Long pepper, Ashwagandha, Aloe vera, Sappanwood.
The herbs in Smooth Cycle are combined in precise proportions and prepared in the ayurvedic way. This improves the bioavailability and assimilation of vital nutrients. It also creates synergy — the collective benefits are much greater than those of the isolated, individual herbs.
Asoka tree, Lodh tree and Sacred fig are three of the most famous herbs for feminine health. They help balance the menstrual flow (Apana Vata), hormones and emotions (Sadhaka Pitta).
Mango seed, Lodh tree, Sacred fig, Sandalwood, Corallium rubrum and Waterlily promote the normal quantity of blood flow.
Sensitive plant, Sacred fig, Waterlily, Corallium rubrum and Cumin nourish the uterus.
Ferri sulphuratum and Mineral pitch help maintain the proper level of hemoglobin.
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.