The Indic scriptures believe that the fertile earth and a woman must be well-rested, truly respected and forever celebrated. The monthly menstrual cycle that every woman goes through in her life is recognised by our ancient Vedic seers as a principle of feminine energy that gives mankind its journey, its velocity, a sense of direction and an abdominal motivation to survive and procreate.
Traditionally, our elders would provide for a specific menu for menstruating women. Combined with basic home remedies, these foods helped women deal with several physical and emotional issues that cropped up during this time. In fact, menstrual cycles were looked at as being one of the clearest ways to determine the overall health of a woman.
Food habits made an integral part of female health in those times. There were specific details on lifestyle choices that she would have to make during the various stages of her fertility cycle in order to remain healthy.
Well, in these modern times where menstrual symptoms are becoming far too common, period problems vary from woman to woman. Ranging from severe stomach cramps, irregular period cycles and other hormonal imbalances, we see a major rise in PMS related cases, a pre or post-menstrual syndrome amongst urban women. Depression, mood swings, anxiety disorder and food cravings have increased exponentially due to lifestyle changes, dietary habits and most importantly, stress.
The physical, mental and emotional disturbances that females experience during their menstrual cycle include hot flushes, changes in appetite, nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea, acne breakouts etc. Psychological issues like emotional disturbances, diminished libido and constant fatigue are common.
Ayurveda states that the imbalance of the doshas in the body is largely responsible for the accelerated growth in women’s reproductive diseases. It offers a comprehensive diagnosis by altering lifestyle modifications through food, yoga, exercise and meditation to treat PMS successfully. Listed below is a basic preventive program that you could try out a week before your anticipated period time to cure PMS.
Our traditions say that diet and regimen during periods should balance doshas, maintain digestive fire and allow the mind to remain calm and positive.
Generic remedies for everyone: Since spicy food increases internal body heat, it is suggested that women must consume cooling food items during menstruation. They should avoid eating non-vegetarian food and consume seasonal vegetables and fruits more often. To strengthen the body and ease cramps, one must eat peanuts, flax seeds, coconuts etc. Millets are a staple across the country. Hence eating a lot of millets will increase nutritional intake. Try the Anahata Navadhanya Kanji for guaranteed relief during your periods.
Remedies for women with a predominant Vata Dosha: Consume chamomile blended green herbal tea at least twice a day. This will help reduce water retention in the body, making you feel less bloated and much more energised. You can also try eating a spoonful of aloe vera gel with a pinch of black pepper added to it before you eat your main meals. This will help you fight mood swings and stop any kind of infections in the body during this time.
Remedies for women with a predominant Pitta Dosha: Boil a small batch piece of aloe vera in water with a pinch of cumin powder early every morning. You can add some Anahata raw wild honey to sweeten your drink. This will instantly cool your stomach, relieving you of any acid reflux during this time. Make it a habit to consume sweet, bitter and astringent tasting foods to help you cool the body naturally.
Eat a lot of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. Include barley, rice, oats, milk and homemade butter in your daily diet. Swastham, from Anahata includes herbs like mulethi, shatavari, turmeric and Brahmi that help cope with internal problems during menstruation. Make sure to get adequate sleep and rest to help your body rejuvenate and cope up during your periods.
Remedies for women with a predominant Kapha Dosha: Boil a small aloe vera in boiling water with a pinch of black pepper and ginger early every morning. Consuming local berries every day will also help build a balanced prakriti. Pure cow ghee must be included in your daily meals. Green and black teas are recommended over beverages like coffee or soft drinks. Avoid eating or drinking very cold food or water but at the same time, remember to hydrate sufficiently.
Try these simple yet specific foods to keep yourself happy and healthy during your periods. Nabhira, a navel oil made from pure ghee, is extremely effective in easing PMS. It is known to stimulate hormones and help regulate cramps or any other strain on the reproductive system at this time. It is also advised to keep your meals light, and homemade when you menstruate. While basic yogic stretches, pranayama and meditation can also be very beneficial, eating the right kind of foods plays an integral part in tackling PMS. So literally eat away smartly to glide through your periods with ease every time.
(The writer is the Founder of Anahata Organics.)