September marks Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) awareness month. Affecting one in ten women globally and growing, PCOS is a common condition that affects a woman’s ovaries, causing hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, irregular periods, acne, abnormal hair growth (hirsutism), thinning hair, infertility, weight gain, and many other conditions. According to modern science, PCOS develops when a woman's body secretes excess male hormones, called androgens. Excess androgens cause ovaries to produce immature egg follicles every month, leading to the development of small ovarian cysts.
According to Ayurveda, the disruption in healthy ovulation is caused by the Kapha and Vata Dosha imbalances. The Vedas explain that during the ovarian cycle, Vata is responsible for follicular movement, i.e. the rupture of the ovarian wall releasing the matured ovum and the movement of fimbriae, or the finger-like projections that guide the ovum through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. Kapha, on the other hand, is responsible for providing nourishment for the uterus, aiding follicular growth, and the development of the egg into a fetus.
In Ayurveda, hormones, as termed by modern science, are represented as the ‘fire’ element of human tissue and the ‘cold and sticky’ qualities of an imbalanced Kapha affect the digestive fire, or agni, and that alters the metabolic rate of the dhatus.
Ayurveda attributes the occurrence of PCOS to excess Kapha blocking the natural balanced flow of reproductive fluids and channels. This leads to the obstruction of movement and a suppressed metabolism.
Ayurvedic Management of PCOS
The ancient science of healing doesn’t just focus on the issue at hand. Instead, it aims to provide a more holistic solution for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, and PCOS is no different. Ayurvedic management of PCOS recommends various therapies and lifestyle changes like detoxifying the body, focusing on strengthening and rejuvenating the female reproductive system, treating hormonal imbalance, regulating insulin resistance, and reigniting the weakened digestive fire.
September being PCOS Awareness month, we’ve decided to write a series of blogs informing you about Ayurvedic therapies, herbs and lifestyle changes to help you manage PCOS. First in our series are some Ayurveda recommended lifestyle improvements for PCOS. Take a look!
Move your body
The importance of incorporating any form of physical activity, be it exercise, sports, walking, yoga, or general physical activity into your daily routine is stressed upon. Movement of the body is necessary as it helps stabilize the metabolic rates of the body which in turn balances the aggravated Kapha dosha. Moreover, a regular low-impact workout regime helps burn calories, helps improve blood circulation, promotes lymphatic drainage, and manages the uncharacteristic weight gain associated with PCOS. If you are looking for a gentle yet effective workout routine, try practicing Yoga. It has been found effective in regulating the hormones and menstrual cycle.
Incorporate Kapha balancing foods
Swap stimulants, like tea and coffee with herbal infusions, black tea, and green tea that boost metabolism and pacify Kapha and Vata Dosha. Favor a Kapha-friendly diet and focus on eating light and airy or warm foods with pungent, bitter, or astringent spices, such as cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic, and turmeric that rekindle the digestive fire and help remove sluggishness. Avoid foods that sit heavily in the body. Cooked fruits and vegetables are beneficial and moderate amounts of raw vegetables can be eaten during comparatively warmer months of the year. Avoid heavy and dense foods, like whole wheat, oils, fats, puddings, hard cheeses, deep-fried foods, etc as they can aggravate the Kapha dosha.
Calm and relaxed is the way to go
PCOS takes a toll on our mental health. Most women suffering from PCOS are prone to frequent mood swings, depression, anxiety, stress, and emotional eating. These symptoms are often associated with Vata imbalance and lead to a 'windy mind'. Symptoms like emotional eating further aggravate the ‘slow-moving’ quality of Kapha's digestive processes. To break this never-ending cycle, Ayurveda suggests practicing mindfulness and adopting a bright, happy, and optimistic viewpoint on life. PCOS can consciously or subconsciously adversely affect our confidence and self-esteem. To counter that calming and relaxing practices like meditation, earthing, and deep-breathing exercises do wonders to soothe your windy mind and bring Kapha dosha in balance.
The impact of Ayurvedic treatments and recommendations are deep-seated and long-lasting. All Ayurvedic therapies are designed to recalibrate and strengthen your body’s orchestration with Mother Nature’s rhythms. Therefore, should you choose to adopt Ayurveda on your journey of understanding, introspection, and managing PCOS, you can expect a qualitative difference and a deep sense of peace and enrichment. Stay tuned for the next blog where we'll discuss various Ayurvedic herbs that are effective in managing PCOS.
For a more personalized Ayurvedic treatment and advice, get in touch with an Ayurvedic Practitioner.