Menopause and Ayurveda

How Ayurveda Can Help Relieve Your Menopausal Symptoms

Menopause itself is inevitable (and very much a part of the natural aging process for those born with a female reproductive system), but suffering with uncomfortable symptoms during the menopause transition process is not.

Vasomotor symptoms (i.e., hot flashes, increased sweating and night sweats), sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, mood disturbances and changes to the skin and hair are just a few of the experiences associated with perimenopause.
Incorporating Ayurveda – one of the world’s oldest known holistic healing systems originating in India more than 3,000 years ago – can help ease some of the most uncomfortable menopause-related symptoms and support overall well-being.  The principles of Ayurveda aim to treat or prevent disease and manage health conditions naturally, without the risk of serious side effects. It’s often paired with traditional Western medicine to successfully manage a range of health conditions, including those associated with perimenopause.

Some of the most effective, evidence-backed, natural Ayurvedic treatments for relieving symptoms related to perimenopause include:

Hot flashes and increased sweating

Hot flashes and increased sweating are the most unpleasant and disturbing symptoms linked to menopause. Studies show that mindfulness-based stress reduction that uses a combination of exercises like meditation and yoga, together with the use of herbal medications like Ashwagandha and Shatavari, can regulate sweating and relieve hot flashes during menopause.

Weight gain and belly fat

Due to hormonal fluctuations across a lifespan (i.e., puberty, pregnancy and perimenopause), belly fat is one of the most common issues women face. Weight gain and belly fat tend to worsen and become more difficult to manage during perimenopause due to a steady decline in estrogen.

Fluctuating hormones and the drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause can lead to the increased secretion of the  stress hormone, cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can negatively affect our metabolic processes and create disturbances in the fat distribution in the body, leading to the accumulation of abdominal fat.

Yoga is an integral part of Ayurveda and has been found to help prevent weight gain during menopause transition. A regular yoga practice helps regulate metabolic processes and endocrinal and hormonal systems, making it an excellent natural therapy to assist with managing belly fat during perimenopause and into post-menopause.

Mental stress, anxiety, and mood swings

It is not uncommon for women to experience severe anxiety and extreme mood swings during perimenopause. These symptoms are believed to occur due to the decline in the secretion of the “feel-good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin, and the rise in the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol — likely driven by increased stressors like insomnia, hot flashes and fatigue.

The Ayurvedic breathing practice, Sudarshan Kriya, can be a powerful exercise for restoring a sense of calmness and inducing relaxation, both emotionally and physically. Studies have shown that Sudarshan Kriya helps to reduce stress, ease mood swings, and improve the quality of sleep in perimenopausal women.

Sleep disturbances

Hormonal imbalances, night sweats, hot flashes, and joint pain all interfere with the ability to sleep well. Ayurveda recommends meditation, followed by Savasana or a short Yoga Nidra to improve the quality and duration of sleep.

Drinking a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric and nutmeg, or Golden Milk, about half an hour before bedtime could also help improve sleep quality, by reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation.

Joint pain

Joint pain and muscle soreness are common complaints during perimenopause. The regular use of natural anti-inflammatory herbs like garlic, turmeric and black pepper may help reduce inflammation in the joints, muscles, and ligaments and provide relief from pain and discomfort.

Incorporating foods such as olive oil, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, which contain a rich amount of anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants like omega 3 fatty acids, can also help protect healthy joint tissues against damage caused by free radicals and toxins, thereby reducing joint pain.

The regular practice of simple yoga poses such as Bhujangasana (Cobra), Setu Bandhasana (Bridge), and Dhanurasana (Bow) can also help strengthen the back muscles and minimize pain, stiffness, fatigue, and tension.

Figuring out what’s right for you

For many, Ayurvedic treatments offer a natural and effective way to manage many of the symptoms of menopause, including increased hot flashes, belly fat, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and more.

A regular and consistent practice of yoga, combined with meditation and select herbal remedies, may help lessen, if not prevent, certain menopausal symptoms and support a healthy, happy and active life during what can be a challenging phase.

If you’re interested in exploring more about how Ayurveda can help ease your menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor and other certified wellness practitioners about how Ayurvedic practices can best be incorporated into your overall care plan.