The cessation of menstruation denotes the end of the reproductive period, which is termed menopause. Cyclic changes no longer occur. Ovulation ceases and so does the monthly formation of the endometrial layer. There is no possibility of pregnancy in a natural way. Here, Dr. Vinod Verma discusses on how Menopause is not the end of a woman’s sexual life and how it can be managed naturally.
During the pre – menopausal period (around 45 years onward), a woman’s body releases less hormones than usual.This reduction leads to psychological and physiological changes in her body. These changes vary from person to person depending mainly on their general health conditions and lifestyle.
During this stage most women experience pain in the upper part of the neck and the base of the head. Many others experience hot flashes or a sudden, momentary heating of their body even during cold seasons. Such sensations may occur very frequently or only rarely. Some women feel like they have suddenly grown old and have developed dry or rough skin that is common during this stage of their lives and this is mainly due to an imbalance in the vata dosha.
Nervousness and depression are the other two prominent symptoms during the pre-menopausal period. Some may develop a negative attitude towards life in general, whereas others may begin to complain of high sensitivity to cold, various aches and pains (especially in the back), stomach upset, and a general feeling of restlessness. A few others are known to suffer from insomnia, hypertension, palpitation, extreme weakness, and low or high blood pressure. Some start to put on weight, without any change in their food habits. Besides these, other non-specific symptoms may arise which cannot be easily designated as ailments.
Food supplements for managing Menopause
In addition to the general Ayurvedic rejuvenation practiced during menopause, women should consider some of the following food supplements to manage menopause effectively.
- During winter, take 1/4 teaspoon of crushed cress seeds every other day. Clean and powder the seeds and store them in a dry bottle. Use it by placing the powder in the mouth and swallowing it with warm water or water at room temperature.
- During summer, daily take a glass of Asparagus sharvat (syrup mixed with water). Take 1kg Asparagus, pound it and cook in one litre of water on low heat witha lid on. Cook until it is reduced to nearly half litre and forms a decoction. Filter the decoction and add 700 gm sugar into it. Dissolve and cook on a slow heat for about 40 minutes. For making a drink, dilute a portion with eight times the quantity of water or according to taste.
- Eat about 15 almonds every day before breakfast. They should be soaked overnight and peeled and well chewed on an empty stomach.
- If you experince frequent hot flashes, avoid pitta-promoting foods like garlic, potatoes, pork, beef, eggs, sour tasting foods and all foods which have a pungent taste (like chilli, pepper etc.).
- Banana therapy is very popular for menopausal problems in north-west India. Take slightly unripe bananas and cut them and put them into the freshly prepared yoghurt and eat every morning on empty stomach for about four weeks. This treatment particularly cures restlessness and hot flashes.
- Eat foods that are cold in their Ayurvedic nature. Some examples are bitter gourd, endive, onions, spinach, celery, cucumber, sweet apples, banana, pears, beet-root, asparagus, rice, germinated wheat, and red lentils. Avoid sour foods because they are hot in their Ayurvedic nature.
- Avoid coffee, excess black tea, tobacco and alcohol as they enhance heat in the body.
Triphala is a well known remedy for balancing the three principal energies in the body. Most menopausal troubles in women are caused due to the temporary imbalance created due to this changing phase in their life. In an individual who is emotionally and physically balanced and strong with high ojas (immunity and vitality), the passage from one phase of life to another is smooth; be it from childhood to adulthood or youth to middle age. If one is an imbalanced person with low immunity and vitality, the transformation process is problematic. Triphala helps to balance the doshas and is a rasayana (ojas enhancing).
Dosage and method of intake: Soak one heaped teaspoon of the Triphala powder in about 200 ml (1 cup) hot water in a china or glass pot and stir well. Keep it like this over-night. Next morning, heat it slightly and filter it. Drink on an empty stomach.
The effect of Triphala: Triphala is a rejuvenating dietary supplement. It is a valuable drug that re-establishes the equilibrium of the three doshas. In healthy persons, Triphala enhances smooth excretion of stool and urine after its intake and thus purifies the system.
Other methods of regaining equilibrium through Nutrition
Here are a few simple diet ideas to purify the body system. This diet can be had for about four weeks and if you feel good, integrate some of these recipes in your daily menu.
- Cook 2-3 grated carrots in little water. Add some cardamoms to it and cook for about 15 minutes. To this preparation add a little candy sugar if you want sweet taste. Finally, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of ghee. This preparation can be garnished with some chopped almonds in the end. You may add candy sugar or chopped dates if you prefer it to be more sweet.
- Alternatively, have plain yoghurt with some cooked rice. Whip the yoghurt and add a little salt, pepper and ½ a teaspoon of roasted and ground cumin. Eat this with cooked rice.
Meals: Eat fresh, warm, small and light meals. Do not take late dinners; make sure that you have it at least two hours before going to bed.
- Carrot soup is highly recommended for dinner.
- Balanced vegetables like courgette, pumpkin, carrots are always good to eat. You may add other vegetables to your menu but avoid vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage or others of this family. They are generally hard to digest. Always use fresh ginger along with vegetables and add spices like cardamom, ajwain, cumin, dill, coriander, clove and fennel. It is easy to prepare a spice mixture for your diet: mix all these spices in equal quantities except clove which should be ground and taken in half the quantity.
- Rice or roasted potatoes can be an addition to the above menu. Make sure to have this with bread that is freshly prepared.
- For dessert, eat fruits like papaya, sweet apples, sweet mangoes and pomegranate. Mixed fruit salad is highly recommended.
- Those of you with weak digestion should avoid salads and raw vegetables. Use herbs like coriander, dill, basil and others to garnish the vegetables and soups.
Change in environment
Many-a-times, a change inthe environment is very helpful in re-establishing the equilibrium of the body and giving it an immediate sense of well-being.Among this water and air are the most important.
It is good to take a holiday to some peaceful and quiet place where the climate is totally different. If you live near the sea or some other place where the humidity is very high, you should take a holiday to the mountains or midlands for a change of climate.
- Take purgatives from time-to-time for maintaining a balance of pitta dosha. The herbal mixtures available for this purpose are easily available.
- Bark of the Ashoka tree is very beneficial for women in many respects. The classical preparation made from these is called Ashokarishatha.
- Regular intake of saffron is considered healthy during this period. The daily dose can be 100 mg or a pinch either in hot milk or hot ghee.
Dr. Vinod Verma, Ayurveda Health Organisation and Charaka School of Ayurveda, HQ: A-130, Sector 26, Noida 201301, UP