In Ayurveda, the understanding of PMS comes from understanding the type of symptoms a woman experiences during PMS. In Ayurveda, PMS symptoms can be classified as vata, pitta or kapha dominant. This has nothing to do with the constitution of the person. One can experience any kind of PMS, depending on the specific dosha aggravation at the time.
.Vata imbalance predisposes women to symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, headache and interrupted flow as the menstrual cycle begins.
.Pitta imbalance predisposes women to anger, irritability, excessive heat, poor complexion and pain during menstruation.
.Kapha imbalance predisposes women to depression, heaviness and lethargy as menstruation begins.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, over 85% of women who menstruate experience at least one Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptom each month but don’t require treatment since their symptoms are mild. However, there is also a subset of women (3-8 percent) who experienced a more severe and disabling form of PMS, termed premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
In Western medicine, PMS is considered to be caused by hormonal changes, particularly the change in the level of estrogen that can occur around the menstrual cycle. Some believe that PMS mood swings may be related to deficiencies in vitamin B6 and magnesium. One theory of PMS suggests that its symptoms are due to an ovarian hormone imbalance of either estrogen or progesterone.
How Do Environmental Toxins Affect PMS?
Another potential reason for PMS that Western women should be concerned about is exposure to environmental toxins: food additives, pollutants, birth control pills, and pesticides. Once these “xeno-estrogens” enter the body, they create a hormonal imbalance, imitating estrogen and leading to a slew of symptoms and conditions. Besides lifestyle and dietary changes, Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma, the detoxification and rejuvenation process used for thousands of years to treat disease and bring the body back into balance.
PMS According To Dosha And Remedies
Vata PMS Symptoms
The Vata PMS is characterized by anxiety, depression, insomnia, constipation, headache and severe cramping pain. There is nervousness, agitation, spaced-out feeling, perhaps dizziness, fainting or vertigo with ringing in the ear, loss of sleep, excess dryness, bloating of abdomen, cramps in abdomen and tiredness.
Moods may shift rapidly; the person is very hard to please. Anxiety and feeling of abandonment may occur. The individual complains of feeling cold, thirst, and may experience dry skin. She may even feel suicidal tendencies, but once the period starts to flow, most of the symptoms disappear.
The periods may be delayed or irregular. The flow is usually scanty, brown or black, and the period last only for a few days. Pain is worst on sunrise or sunset (Vata time).
Diet: For the Vata person, an anti-vata diet is good. This diet is predominantly sweet, sour and salty tastes. Food should be warm, heavy and moist, and should be taken frequently. Spices should be used in cooking to regulate digestion. Cold water or ice should be avoided, as well as stimulating beverages such as coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Tonic food like garlic and cooked onions are good for vata people. Spices to promote menstruation such as turmeric combine with spasmodic spices such as nutmeg; can be taken in warm milk before sleeping. Steer clear of cold and raw foods. Instead, stick to soups, rice, and cooked vegetables.
Massage: Dryness and constipation are best managed by regular warm oil massages with sesame seed oil at least a week before the periods start. A self-massage or abhyanga with warm sesame oil will help calm the frayed vata nerves and give some much needed grounding
Teas: Soothing teas containing orange, fennel, ginger, lemon and cloves will help to relieve bloating and cramps.
Depression: A combination of triphala and ashwagandha are best for the emotional symptoms of depression and grief.
Cramps: Hot castor oil packs to the lower abdomen will help relieve symptoms of severe cramps and discomfort. Plenty of breathing exercises and relaxing yoga like the shavasana and half spinal twists are beneficial.
Insomnia: For insomnia, a good remedy is a teaspoon of ashwagandha mixed in warm cow’s milk or almond milk at bedtime.
Constipation: For constipation, add a teaspoon of ghee to the ashwagandha milk.
Herbal Tea: Dashamoola is another good herb for Vata PMS. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of dashamoola in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes and then drink.
Preventive Measures: Eat 10 cherries on an empty stomach for a week before the expected onset of menstruation.
Digestion: A tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a pinch of black pepper powder before food is also helpful for digestion.
Gemstones: The use of gemstones for Vata women is beneficial. Red coral, garnet, ruby or bloodstone build the blood, while white stones like pearl and moonstone increase blood fluids.
Chinese Herbs: Chinese herbs are dang gui, rehmania, white peony, and ligusticum. Important formulas include these four materials and Bupleurum. The latter is the basic PMS formula in Chinese medicines sold as Bupleurum Sedative Pill.
Pitta PMS Symptoms
Pitta PMS is market by anger, dizziness, increased appetite, acidity, burning headache, irritability, temper and possible outbursts. There may be diarrhea, thirst, sweating, or fever, and the person feels hot, particularly in the upper part of the body. There is more acne or possible skin rashes. The blood flow is usually abundant or excessive and may contain clots. The period tends to comes early and there maybe spotting between periods. Symptoms are worst at noon and midnight (Pitta time).
Massage: Foot massages with warm coconut oil helps to get rid of excess heat from the body along with any signs of irritability and fevers. Warm oil massages with oil of sandalwood and rose are refreshing.
Diet: For Pitta persons, an anti-Pitta diet should be combined with menstruation-promoting spices such as turmeric, coriander, fennel, saffron and sunflower, but hot spices should be avoided. The anti-Pitta diet is mainly sweet, bitter, and with astringent taste. An adequate intake of raw food and juices is indicated. Food should be cool, heavy and dry even in taste, without excessive spices. Water should be taken cool. Coffee and alcohol should be avoided but tea is good.
Steamed green vegetables are best for any skin-related symptoms of acne, rashes and burning sensation. If you find yourself becoming irritable and craving sweets—pitta imbalances—avoid foods that are hot and spicy.
Herbal Teas: Refreshing herbal teas containing saffron, cardamom, mint or basil alleviate acidity, hunger pangs and dizziness. With this type of PMS, there is a serotonin imbalance. Brahmi is a good herb for elevating serotonin levels. Shatavari is a good herb in general for managing pitta. Using 2 parts of shatavari, 1 part of brahmi and 1 part of musta, make a herbal mixture. Take 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture twice a day with warm water. A tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a pinch of cumin powder is effective.
Ayurvedic Herbs: Herbs like shatavari (Indian asparagus), turmeric, saffron, gotu kola, and bhringaraj and aloe vera are best for this type of PMS.
Yoga: Moon salutations at least a week before the periods start and cooling breathing exercises like left nostril breathing or shitali pranayama will be effective. Moon bathing or strolling in the moonlight can also help considerably to reduce body heat and stress.
Gemstones: Gemstones for Pitta persons are pearl, moonstone and red coral.
Aromatherapy: The use of fragrance and incense – jasmine, rose, sandalwood and gardenia is also very good.
Chinese herbs: Chinese herbs are salvia, motherwort, peach seed, safflower, bupleurum, cyperus and mint. Western herbs are nettles, yarrow, red raspberry, black cohosh, skullcap and betony.
Kapha PMS Symptoms
Kapha (excess water) related PMS comes with signs and symptoms of increased weight, fluid retentions, enlargement of breasts, tiredness, low digestion, sluggishness, and heaviness.
Diet: For Kapha persons, the anti-Kapha diet should be followed. A primary reducing diet is used, emphasizing bitter and astringent tastes. Foods should be warm, light, and dry, with hot spices. Occasional fasting or skipping a meal is good. Cold or ice water should be avoided. Herbal teas are good and regular tea can be taken as well. Heavy or oily food should be avoided. Spices and light vegetables can be used freely, including all hot spices. Foods that are generally spicy, bitter and astringent will help to get rid of any swellings. If weight gain, breast tenderness, and fluid retention—kapha imbalances—are on your list of PMS symptoms, skip dairy products and fried or oily foods, such as nut butters. Reduce salt intake considerably to minimize fluid retention.
Massage: Body treatments like udvartana (ayurvedic herbal scrub) massage are best for fluid retentions and weight gains.
Ayurvedic Herbs: Triphala along with a resin called guggulu helps to stimulate digestion and beats lethargy. Punarnava is a good Ayurvedic herb to soothe kapha and also has a mild diuretic effect. Take 1/2 teaspoon with honey twice daily. Triphala or Bibhitaki are also good Ayurvedic herbs that will help soothe kapha, reduce toxin buildup and limit fatigue. A tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a pinch of trikatu will help.
Yoga: Re-energizing sun salutations and stimulating kapalabhati (cleansing breath exercise) work wonders for this kind of PMS.
Preventive measures: Eat 10 cherries daily on an empty stomach for a week before the expected onset of your period.
Ayurvedic herbs: Ayurvedic herbs for Kapha persons include aloe gel, turmeric, cyperus, cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, gingers and calamus.
Chinese herbs: Chinese herbs are ligusticum, safflower, alisma, and the Tang Kuei and Peony formula.
General Advice For All Doshas
1. A few drops (2-3) of warm ghee in each nostril will help stimulate and balance the system and hormones.
2. Warm fomentation with a towel dipped in warm water and then wrung out and placed on the lower abdomen gives relief from abdominal pain, bloating and cramps.
Yoga For PMS
To Relieve Irritability And Anxiety
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose supported by bolster)
Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward- Facing Dog Pose with head on a block)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend with head on padded chair)
To Relieve Bloating And Headache
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose II with leg out to side)
Ardha Halasana (Half Plow Pose with legs on a chair)
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose with sacrum on a bolster)
To Relieve Cramps
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose with sacrum on a bolster)
Parsarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose supported on bolster)
To Relieve Depression And Fatigue
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward- Facing Dog Pose with head on a block)
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose supported with a bolster)
Ardha Halasana (Half Plow Pose with legs on a chair)
Herbs For PMS
Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) can help balance the hormones released by the pituitary gland, which controls your overall hormone function. Studies have found it effective for symptoms including breast tenderness, irritability, mood changes, cramps, and food craving. Recommended doses are 20 to 40 mg a day of chaste berry extract or 250 to 500 mg per day of dried fruit. Side effects may include upset stomach, rash, or dizziness. Do not take if pregnant, breast-feeding or have a hormone sensitive condition such as cancer. Vitex may interact with several medications including oral contraceptives and anti-psychotic medications.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) has been found effective at reducing the symptoms of anxiety, tension, and depression in women with PMS. Compounds bind to a type of serotonin receptor, which may be a reason why it has positive effects on mood. The German health authorities have approved black cohosh for premenstrual discomfort and painful periods. Take 20 to 40 mg of standardized extract twice daily. Possible side effects include gastrointestinal disturbance and headache. Those with liver disease should check with their healthcare provider before use. Do not take if pregnant, breast-feeding or have a hormone sensitive condition such as cancer. Black cohosh may interact with several medications.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may be helpful for congestive symptoms such as fluid retention, breast tenderness, and weight gain. Use 80 mg twice daily from day 16 of one menstrual cycle through day 5 of the next cycle. Do not take if pregnant or breast-feeding. Consult with your healthcare provider before taking if you’re using anticoagulant medications including ibuprofen.
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a soothing traditional Ayurvedic herb that may be helpful for irritability and excessive heat. It’s also said to increase the health of female reproductive tissue, however clinical studies are limited at this time. Use 500 to 1,000 mg twice daily.
Dang gui, also called Chinese angelica, dong quai, and tang kuei, is highly respected in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is usually used to treat women’s reproductive health issues, but is also recommended to help prevent some forms of cardiovascular disease.
Rehmannia’s root is used in Asian medicine to regain vitality, to strengthen the liver, kidney and heart and for prevention of a variety of ailments like diabetes, constipation, anemia, urinary tract disorders, dizziness and regulation of menstrual flow.
Ligusticum is a Chinese herb that is believed to promote blood circulation and regulates energy.
Bupleurum is a herb traditionally used as an herbal tonic remedy for the improved functioning of the liver; it has a strengthening effects on the performance of digestion and is believed to aid the body by rushing blood to the surface of the body in patients affected by circulatory illness.
The leaves of Bhringraj herb are healthy and rich in protein. Bhringraj herb is also used in the prevention of liver ailments. It defends the liver from toxic substances, and it is also used in the prevention and treatment of hepatic disorders such as jaundice, liver cirrhosis, etc.
Cyperus iria is a tufted weed with a yellowish brown to greenish crowded inflorescence (IRRI). In many oriental traditional systems, rhizomes used for stomach and bowel disorders; in Ayurveda, used for leprosy, fever, dysentery, itching, and as anthelmintic; in India, used for wound healing; In Unani, used for ulcers and sores, fevers, dyspepsia.
Black cohosh has been used as early as 1800 as an effective remedy for problems related to the female reproductive system. This includes premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual cramps, and menopause.
Calamus – This aromatic underground stem or rhizome of the perennial herb known from Biblical times, Acorus calamus L. is also known as ‘calamus’. It is used for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments like stomach-ache, toothache and flu, and also for menstrual problems.
Alisma is a Chinese herb that helps strengthen water metabolism, which is a critical bodily function. It regulates the body of excess dampness through the urinary tract. It is mild, safe with mild tonic characteristics, especially to the kidney, bladder, spleen and stomach too.
Emmenagogues formula is a mixture of herbal-substances which have the capability to provoke menstruation. They can work in many ways, but the bottom-line result is menstruation. Its action can be mild or strong depending on the strength of the herbs.
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