The moon, the tides of the ocean and woman, these three cycle together each month. A woman's monthly bleeding sets her apart from all other females, none of whom have menstruation as part of their reproductive physiology. Mysterious and powerful, a woman's cycle is a source of her deep connection to the moon and the cycles of nature. Yet all too often, the menstrual cycle is experienced as troublesome and painful rather than as enriching.
According to Ayurveda, your menses should be comfortable, fee from pain or burning. Bleeding should be neither too heavy nor too light.
Vata menstrual cramps
Vata dysmenorrhoea consists of intense cramps which occur before the onset of bleeding or when the bleeding is still only light. Such cramps can be severe and disabling. Garlic milk is a great remedy to alleviate the cramps.
- 1 cup of milk.
- 3 Garlic cloves - 3.
- 1/4 t Turmeric powder
- 1 t Honey (optional).
- 1 pinch black pepper powder (optional)
1. Crush the garlic cloves a little with the sides of a knife or a garlic crusher.
2. Boil the milk with crushed garlic.
3. Add the turmeric powder.
4. Let the milk boil until the garlic is soft. Keep stirring the milk so that it doesn't stick or burn.
5. Remove from heat, add optional ingredients if desired.
6. Drink the milk and eat the cooked garlic cloves.
A combination of Ashwagandha and Vidari will help to reduce menstrual cramps and regulate the menstrual cycle. This remedy should be taken all month long as the intention is to calm vata systemically rather than to act as an alternative to Ibuprofen.
To calm your vata, do oiling, sweating and basti prior to (NOT DURING) your period.
1/3 cup each of dried ginger & baking soda for each bathtubful of tolerable hot water (avoid excessive heat). Total amounts needed: dried ginger 1/3 cup baking soda1/3 cup
- Be sure the bathroom is warm--avoid getting chilled at any time.
- Have extra "oil" towels available.
- Soak after oiling and then get out when begin to sweat.
- Cover with towels and continue to sweat in the warm bathroom until you are beginning to cool down.
At 7 pm or sunset time, instead of dinner prepare the recommended basti for that day,
Day 1 : 4 oz sesame oil, blood heat temperature (body temperature)
Day 2: Dashmula tea: 1 ½ pints pure water & 2 Tablespoons Dashmula tea. Simmer with lid on for 10 min. Then strain really well, through a silk cloth or coffee filter. Do not use the roots/powder portion in the enema bag, only use the strained liquid. Then add ½ cup of warm sesame oil, mix & put in enema bag at blood heat temperature.
Day 3: 4 oz sesame oil again, blood heat temperature
- Prepare & warm up the bathroom or other location where you will be administering the basti.
- Have towel handy for "diaper", if needed to safely get to toilet.
- Be sure you have a comfortable, cushioned place to recline during the basti. There may be some leakage while administering the enema, so have appropriate old towels etc under you (ie. Not your favorite blanket). Most people arrange a "nest" in the bathroom or bathtub.
- You will want to have a place to hang up the enema bag - most have a hook or loop on the top which you can use directly on something or can put on a clothes hanger & then hook onto a towel rack or shower head, etc.
- After preparing the basti put it in the previously cleaned & air-dried enema bag
- Check the action of the bag while doing the previous cleaning - how to release the clasp; letting air out of the nozzle before insertion
- Lubricate the nozzle (part to be inserted in the anus) with sesame oil. Also lubricate your anus with sesame oil .Do not use KY jelly even if this is indicated in the instructions that come with your enema kit. ( KY jelly is a petroleum product.)
- Lie on your left side. Gently & slowly insert the nozzle (if it's uncomfortable try another angle inward) Release the clasp holding the liquid in and allow it to flow slowly into the rectum. Lie on the left side for 10 minutes. Then move to lie on the back for 10 minutes. Then turn & line on the right side for 10 minutes. Trying to retain the enema for 30 minutes is ideal. If you feel like you aren't retaining it, oil your belly and massage counter-clockwise for five minutes to help keep the basti in.
- When it has emptied from the bag, slowly remove the nozzle from your anus
- When the urge arises after 30 minutes, use the towel "diaper" under you to avoid leakage, and go to the toilet. Relax for awhile.
- Clean the toilet as needed and then take a shower
- Eat a small amount (1/2 -1 cup of very soupy kitcheree) with plenty of ghee, to keep the vata moving downward
- After 1 ½ to 2 hrs (when kitcheree has gone past stomach digestion) go to bed for the night.
Pitta menstrual cramps
Symptoms of pitta dysmenorrhoea include tenderness and cramps which occur when the flow is at its heaviest. Symptoms of menorrhagia include soaking through a pad or tampon each hour or less or needing to use double protection, passing large clots, being woken at night by excess flow, and feeling breathless or dizzy during the flow as a result of excess bleeding.
Herbs for pitta period pains and heavy bleeding:
- Shatavari Kalpa: Roast an ounce of Shatavari with one or two tablespoons ghee in a cast iron pan until light brown and add two tablespoons of sucanat, rapadura or turbinado sugar, two pinches saffron and a pinch of cardamom
- Rose and Hibiscus tea with a touch of cinnamon
- Aloe vera
- Rose petal jam
Follow a strict pitta-pacifying diet should be followed, with especial care to avoid nightshades such as eggplant and tomato sauces. Moon bathing and moonlight strolling can be helpful. If possible, place the head of your bed near a skylight or large window so you can get exposure to moonlight and be influenced by the moon's cycle while sleeping
Moon salutations, shitali and gentle forward-bending poses can help bring relief for pitta cramps and heavy bleeding
Kapha menstrual cramps
A dull ache, heavy, congested feeling, lethargy and fogginess characterise kapha dysmenorrhoea. Avoid dairy products such as milk and cheese during your menstrual period and concentrate on light, kapha reducing food such as fruits and vegetables. Take gentle, low impact exercise at this time, including flowing vinyasa and walking. This will stimulate circulation, which will relieve much of the sensation of heaviness.
Herbs for kapha cramps:
- Punarnava in honey is a herb of choice.
- Hibiscus tea with cinnamon and a little ginger powder
- Hot packs such as castor oil packs or ginger packs can also give great relief to the feeling of congestion.
Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.
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