Pre-menstrual stress – Most if not all of us have heard the derogatory turn of phrase, “ what’s wrong with you, have you got PMS?”. Apart from being very rude and entirely unacceptable to women, sufferers of PMS have every reason to be validly short-tempered or unhappy. It is an exceedingly uncomfortable affliction with a host of unpleasant side effects.
In Ayurveda, we know that not only is pre-menstrual syndrome a real affliction, but a highly unpleasant one to boot. PMS can be defined by Ayurvedic science as an abnormal reaction or response to normal hormonal changes. It is a collective group of physical and mental symptoms that occur one week to a fortnight before menstruation begins and disappear once the menstrual cycle starts. It is a natural menstrual disorder that affects most woman at some point during their lives.
The symptoms of the pre-menstrual stress cycle occur only during the luteal phase, which is the beginning of ovulation and the start of menstrual bleeding. Some of the symptoms which occur are swelling and tenderness of the breasts, outbreaks of acne, anger and fatigue, a decreased sexual drive along with depression, anxiety, mood swings and food cravings.
One of the biggest causes of Pre-menstrual Syndrome in most women is catalysed by a combination of factors such as lack of exercise, improper nutrition and digestion, the accumulation of toxins within the body and of course; stress, which can cause disturbances to the hormonal balance. Any of the symptoms associated with PMS can be produced by this hormonal imbalance.
Within the science of Ayurveda, Pre-menstrual Syndrome can be treated and the symptoms lessened drastically as it comes about due to an imbalance in all of the Doshas. Ayurveda views Premenstrual Syndrome as an accumulation of imbalanced doshas in the body
In Ayurveda, a broad knowledge and understanding of PMS and knowing or understanding the types of symptoms that arise during the Pre-menstrual cycle depends largely on which of the doshas (Pitta, Vata or Kapha) is being most significantly affected when the menstrual cycle begins. For example, an imbalance in the Vata Dosha causes predisposition to symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, headaches and mood swings.
Women with an imbalance in Pitta find themselves affected by symptoms like excessive heat, irritability insomnia, a poor complexion and pain in various parts of the body.
Women who suffer a kappa imbalance are predisposed to symptoms like bloating, weight gain, depression and lethargy.
Luckily, as with most of the Ayurvedic treatments, healing begins to start occurring as soon as the doshas start to rebalance. Other lines of treatment include the creation of a strong digestive fire, stress management and counselling if required.
Other modalities of treatment would include Panchakarma, various external therapies, physical exercise, advice on food and lifestyle changes. A full overview of treatment for Pre-Menstrual stress would look like this.
For Panchakarma – courses of Basti and Virechana
Externally – Abhyanga, Yoni Pichu or Tamponing, Takra Dhara
Internally – Shatavari and Ashwagandha
Physical activities – Specific Asanas, Bandhas, Mudras and deep relaxation techniques
Food and Drink: An increase in water consumption, avoiding, Spicy, Fried or sour food, along with an increase in the intake of fruits and vegetables in their natural form and timely, regular meals.