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May 10, 2008

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

Modern medicine has relegated PMS a medical mystery, for which a cause, and a cure, is yet to be found. In Ayurveda PMS is recognised as a general imbalance of the body, caused by any of the dosha. There are a number of 'cures' but they take great effort on our part, unlike taking panadol, and they depend on which dosha is involved.

Vata: pain, cramps, insomnia, cold, thirst, blood is brown and scanty, period does not last long.

Pitta: hot flushes, pimples, rash, muscle ache, diarrhea, blood is excessive

Kapha: laziness, heaviness, bloating, swollen breasts, lack of appetite, blood is pale, clotted and mucousy.

Dr David Frawley discusses the psychology of PMS related to each dosha, which can be very useful. He says Vata may feel anxiety, depression or abandonment, or "feel like she is dying or have suicidal feelings." Pitta on the other hand will feel angry with "possible violent outbursts." Kapha's emotional changes will not be so severe, but she may want to cry, feeling very sentimental and "needing to be loved."

It may take a long time to correct PMS, and treating the right dosha is vital. Keep a record of your cycle for a few months, noting which symptoms occur on which days and even at what time. If it's not obvious which dosha is involved take this record to an Ayurvedic doctor.

In any case, here's a few suggestions of what may be causing PMS:
  • innappropriate excercise (too much or too little)
  • poor nutrition for your dosha
  • lack of routine
  • over stimulation (sex, travel, coffee, alchohol)
  • mental exhaustion
  • disturbed emotions
Those tampon ads where a woman is riding down the beach, bare back on a horse certainly don't encourage us to acknowledge and respect this most sacred of times for a woman. We are told these days we can do everything. Have a successful career, earn lots of money, cook healthy food for our families, take the kids to soccor training, go shopping, be a satisfying lover, go to the gym twice a week, maintain our blog daily, have coffee with our girlfriends, take a headache pill and do it all over again...and as wonderful as this would be, our bodies are just saying 'no!'

Traditionally, in many ancient cultures, women were relieved of all duties during their periods. Having our periods is a very cleansing and internal time. Take time for yourself, rest, meditate, eat well and ask for help with the chores.

During the rest of the month don't think you can get away with more just cause you don't actually have your period. Life is a constant struggle for balance, and we must work with our bodies at all times, not just when the symptoms rear their ugly heads.


ServesYouRight said...

This is very tough to digest. I completely agree with the part about needing to be in tune with the natural cycles of one's being. Still, its a tricky thing to try to balance given one's respnsibilities and what not at work and society. Definitely food for thought.


Julia said...

I agree, it's tough, and no woman can do it alone. An entire cultural shift is required. Perhaps we should begin our feminine revolution, encouraging each other that it's ok not to be superwoman.

The pressure to succeed (at everything!) is great, it's not any one womans fault, but we can all be part of the solution by encouraging each other to slow down. Men included.

Recent research shows that a full time stay at home mum is worth $120 000 to her family. You truly can afford to relax.

Anonymous said...

Great post.
Thanks Julia.

I guess I'm Kapha-Vata.I have all the above symptoms.It took few months for me to even recognise I had PMS,and now I try to calm my mind ,just do light activities,walking,avoid spicy food, etc. and it really helps.

Medhaa said...

Julia this is a lovely post, I do keep a recors have been doing for a while but every month its different sometimes I am depressed, sometimes just so angry with everyone but have pain all the time with migraines. It is tough but I have a husband who understands and helps around during those days. I feel so lucky.

Julia said...

Migraines are usually a combination of high Pitta and high Kapha, and are also a sign of general long term imbalance. It's very common for them to come along around that time of the month.

A great husband is a great blessing!

TS said...

I am SO out of balance at this time of the month, all I can do is pull my chin up and drink chamomile/ fennel teas and sit with a heating pad.
Thank God, Hubby and kids leave me alone.. ;)


lothi said...

hey julia PMS post and period post is very informative...Is this similar to polycystic ovary syndrome?
Because even i get depressed with pain and cramps.....


Julia said...

I'm not really familiar with polycystic ovary syndrome, but it's association with weight gain and diabetes would suggest Kapha is involved. Rarely is one dosha out of balance without upsetting another, and I'm sure that generally living well will bring balance to the body. Ayurveda deals a lot with fertility so see an Ayurvedic doctor for support.