Ayurveda for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Relief
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is often considered one of the most dreaded parts of the menstrual cycle. Taking place between ovulation and the period, PMS symptoms can be both emotional and physical. Emotional symptoms include irritation, depression, anxiety, poor concentration and a change in libido, while physical symptoms include headache, fatigue, muscle pain, breast tenderness, bloating and acne.
While the exact cause of PMS is unknown, Western medicine typically figures it as related to the change in hormones associated with the fluctuation of estrogen. This list of symptoms is broad, and the haziness surrounding our understanding of PMS can make approaching it feel intimidating. We often don’t know how to treat our symptoms beyond generalized cures.
This is where an Ayurvedic perspective can be extremely useful. According to Ayurveda, periods are not burdens, but rather signs that the body is undergoing healthy fluctuations and flushing out toxins. Ayurveda views PMS as a result of one’s specific doshic balance and one’s lifestyle habits. Certain habits can contribute to the buildup of toxins, or ama in the body, which can contribute to exacerbated symptoms. Ayurveda can help us understand the specific causes underlying our PMS and empower us to formulate a tailored response for treating our symptoms.
Dosha Imbalance and PMS
In Ayurveda, it is believed that the Apana Vata, which is a subdosha of Vata that resides in the lower abdomen, controls processes like digestion and the menstrual cycle. It’s important to keep Vata in balance in order to encourage a healthy, regulated menstrual cycle. Furthermore, our unique doshic balance also contributes to our period symptoms. If one of the doshas is imbalanced, that will impact the symptoms we experience. So in addition to taking extra care to nourish Vata, it’s important to be aware of other imbalances you might have so you can develop practices that target your specific needs.
If you have a Vata imbalance, you may experience symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, fear, insomnia, backaches and abdominal pain.
If you have a Pitta imbalance, you may experience symptoms like anger, irritability, hot flashes, breast tenderness and hives.
If you have a Kapha imbalance, you may experience symptoms like breast tenderness, nausea, fatigue and lethargy.
The Impact of Lifestyle Factors
The buildup of ama, or toxins, contributes to exacerbated PMS. Ama accumulates when we maintain certain negative lifestyle habits, such as eating improperly and not maintaining good digestion.
To combat the buildup of ama, there are a number of changes you can make to your lifestyle. For example, Ayurveda recommends avoiding inflammatory foods like alcohol, coffee, fried foods and fast foods. Instead, try to maintain a balanced and nourishing diet full of a variety of fruits, vegetables and legumes. It’s also important to maintain a regular daily schedule, get adequate sleep, exercise and boost one’s digestion. While all of this might seem intimidating to take on, even just focusing on making one or two improvements to your life will make a big difference in the alleviation of ama. Even undertaking some simple, quick detox practices, like oil pulling or using a Kansa wand, can make a notable impact. Plus, you likely won’t have to undertake everything on this list, as the steps you take will depend on your own personal imbalances.
We have several blogs breaking down how to use Ayurveda to improve one’s digestion, exercise regimen, diet and more. If you’re interested in learning more about how an understanding of our constitution and doshic balance can help us build targeted wellness regimens, check out some of the following: