In Ayurveda, the woman is considered to be ‘Shakti’, the Mother and Source of creation, in whose lap all of civilisation is cradled. Ayurveda also provides immense knowledge and insight into a woman’s reproductive system which helps us understand how to overcome irregular periods naturally.
In Ayurveda, the menstrual cycle is considered as a natural cleansing of a woman’s reproductive system from accumulated toxins (ama), a chance to renew and eliminate the toxins. New blood cells (Rakta Dhatu) are created to replenish the loss.
According to Ayurveda, the menstrual cycle of every woman is influenced by the three doshas - Vata, Kapha and Pitta.
Apana Vata is the subdosha of Vata which governs the menstrual cycle. It is located in the lower abdomen and is responsible for the downward flow through the intestines, urinary and reproductive tracts. When there is an imbalance of this particular dosha due to many reasons like stress, improper diet, illness and certain medication, it results in irregular periods. Other medical conditions like thyroid, anaemia can also cause irregular menstrual cycles.
Dr Smita Naram, Co-Founder, Ayushakti, an ISO 9001:2015 certified company providing Ayurvedic treatment services worldwide, says, “According to our research at Ayushakti, 40% of women have premenstrual symptoms which are severe enough to disrupt their daily lives. For these reasons, it’s completely reasonable that one might not enjoy a period. To reduce painful menstrual cycle, bloated abdomen, hips, thighs and other premenstrual symptoms, there are natural ayurvedic herbs like Chamomile, Ginger, Peppermint, Shatavari, Fennel, and Aswagandha which can be used in different recipes and combinations with ghee, jaggery, black mineral salt and water. Yoga and exercising on regular basis would definitely help for a happier menstrual cycle.”
Dr Naram adds, “Apart from these simple methods, Ayushakti’s “Stree Sathi” medicine would help in balancing female hormones, regulating monthly cycle, and relieving inflammation of reproductive system, it is also very effective for premenstrual syndrome.”
Ayurveda recommends the following herbs to ease Menstrual disorders:
Ashoka (Saraca asoca) is a medium sized evergreen that is found growing wild in the Himalayas and across the Indian sub-continent. It is classed as one of the divine herbs, divya aushadhis, in Ayurveda. The literal meaning of Ashoka is “no grief”, and it is traditionally used in Ayurveda as a powerful women’s herb, in particular as a uterine tonic to treat conditions including endometriosis and menstrual disorders. It tones the uterus, easing heavy menstrual flow and relieving discomfort.
A decoction made from the bark of Ashoka is effective in treating irregular periods as the bark is rich in flavonoids, tannins and glycosides that work as a uterine sedative and has a direct impact on the fibres present in the muscles of the uterus.
The bark also contains natural phytoestrogens which help to stimulate the uterus to normalise menstrual flow.
This herb also promotes hormonal balance making it effective against many menopause symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, sleep problems, mood swings and weight gain.
Ashwagandha strengthens our endocrine and nervous system, helping to balance the production of cortisol from the adrenal glands, which can be beneficial in anxiety-related conditions. Hormonal fluctuations and poor sleep worsens the emotional symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), leaving you feeling irritable. Ashwagandha is a calming herb which helps sound sleep.
Must-read related stories:
Hibiscus flower has a lot of medicinal properties that are beneficial for the reproductive system. By balancing the hormones naturally, hibiscus helps overcome mood swings and mental weakness.
Hibiscus tea can be a very relaxing herbal tea that works like an Ayurvedic tonic for irregular periods. Drinking hibiscus tea can also help alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Its Pitta-pacifying properties, cold potency and ability to balance excess heat in the blood make hibiscus a natural remedy for hormone balance during menopause.
In case of depression and mood swings during menopause, drink a cup of decoction made by boiling white hibiscus petals for 3-4 minutes.
Licorice or Mulethi is incredibly soothing and balancing herb which is characteristically sweet in flavour. It contains glycyrrhizic acid which is fifty times sweeter than sugar without the calorific value.
Licorice is effective in regulating the menstrual cycle by regulating cortisol, the main stress hormone and nourishing our adrenal glands. It can be very beneficial when your energy levels are low due to the natural drop in estrogen levels during this time.
Another way to reap the benefits of licorice is to drink tea made from its roots. This can help relieve the tension before your period starts.
Asafoetida (Hing) is well-known for its benefits to the digestive system but few people are aware of its benefits to the female reproductive system. It helps in stimulating the production of the female hormone, progesterone that increases blood flow to the uterus. Asafoetida also known as Devil's Dung, can come to your rescue during period pains by alleviating the pain and cramps in the lower abdomen and back. It helps prevent leucorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea (painful and excessive menstruation), vaginitis and candida infection. Asafoetida is also very useful in the treatment of secondary amenorrhoea, that is, complete absence of periods. It is said that roasted Asafoetida taken along with jaggery helps to induce menstruation. One simple way to include Asafoetida in the diet is to add it in buttermilk.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Tulsi ((also known as holy Basil)) is a potent adaptogen which means that it can reduce stress levels, boost your immunity and also balance the hormone levels in your body. Not only this, it is a natural antioxidant that is also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. The cortisol hormone control of Tulsi makes it an ideal period regulator. Rebalancing the nervous system to reduce the negative feelings of stress and anxiety are key during this time. Tulsi is known to help awaken the mind and boost mental clarity. Fresh basil is also a remedy for menstrual cramps. You can make Tulsi a part of your daily consumption by drinking Tulsi Green Tea.
Shatavari has been known for thousands of years for supporting the female reproductive system at all stages of life. Like Tulsi, Shatavari is an adaptogen - helping women adapt to modern living, whilst also reducing excess stress. Shatavari helps to balance hormones by activating prolactin hormone, in turn, avoiding pre-menstrual and menopausal breakouts. Shatavari acts as a pitta-pacifying (cooling) herb, helps check bleeding. It also nourishes the uterus, regulates the calcium metabolism and bone compactness and helps prevents hot flashes, insomnia and and osteoporosis.
It is also is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, helping to reduce any deep-seated inflammation that may be present as a result of muscle contractions associated with painful periods.
Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
This simple kitchen herb is very effective in dealing with a range of muscular and abdominal cramps, either caused by menses or because of digestive distress. Take Ajwain Tea for relief in muscular cramps by adding 2 pinches of Ajwain in 2 cups of water and boiling it until it reduces to half. Strain, add honey and drink this two to three times a day.
Turmeric is also a popular anti-inflammatory, meaning it can also help ease menstrual discomfort caused by painful periods. Combining turmeric with ginger gives its pain-killing properties an extra boost.
Bhutakesi (Corydalis govaniana)
A member of the bleeding-heart family, Bhutakesi grows in the Himalayas, particularly around Kashmir. It is commonly prescribed for relief in period cramps. Add 1 to 2 grams of the powder in a cup of boiling water, strain, add honey, and drink twice a day.
Fenugreek seeds (Methi seeds)
Another common herb with a proven track record of relieving period pain is Methi. Soak a teaspoon of Methi in a glass of normal water overnight. Next morning, drink it whole with the seeds if possible, or you may choose to strain the seeds out. Mix a small pinch of black salt if you wish. As Jaggery is a great Vata pacifier, you can also combine a mix of methi-ajwain and jaggery (Gudd) to make small sized balls and take 2-3 of these on an empty stomach with warm water.
Known for its skin cleansing properties, another of Aloe Vera’s vast range of health applications is pain relief in menstrual cramps. Drinking a glass of aloe vera juice on an empty stomach every morning before your cycle sets in, is highly beneficial.
It is recommended that you consult your doctor or gynaecologist before using these herbs on a regular basis.