Taking an Ayurvedic approach to supporting the female body as we transition through our life cycles involves balancing the stress and sex hormones through diet, lifestyle and stress management. 

If underlying symptoms are present before peri menopause and menopause (PM and M) they will definitely present themselves throughout this period. 

For example, if you have noticeable fluctuations in temperature through your menstrual cycle, hot flashes will be a prominent symptom of peri menopause. 

If you suffer from dry skin, dryness in your digestive symptom (constipation) you will definitely feel these symptoms, possibly vaginal dryness throughout PM and M. 

So with awareness we can lessen the symptoms of PM and M by maintaining balance throughout our lives. From the previous workshops, as we move through PM and M, we don’t have the same buffering or balancing affect of the Yin (cooling and moisturising) and Yang (hot and dry) qualities.

Ayurvedic Treatment firstly addresses the symptoms of PM and M through diet and lifestyle. 

Is my diet and lifestyle adding to the symptoms I am feeling? 

Ayurveda works on the principle that ‘like increases like’ and to create balance and alleviate symptoms by introducing the opposite qualities.

Generally diet and lifestyle are directly responsible for imbalance, so without addressing this, we don’t get to the root cause of symptoms. If diet and lifestyle changes don’t sufficiently alleviate symptoms, then we can use Ayurvedic herbal preparations and treatments.

Diet, Lifestyle and Remedies 

PM and M symptoms generally are related to a depletion in the Yin. Yin (or Kapha) qualities are:

  • Cool
  • Moist
  • Nourishing 
  • Lubricating

Foods with these qualities can help alleviate symptoms of heat and dryness in the body. Generally the ideal diet for PM and M Pitta – Vata balancing or Pitta reducing. Special consideration is given to alleviating excess heat and dryness in the body

Dietary Consideration for Symptoms of Heat and Dryness
General Guideline:  

  • Pitta is balanced by a diet of fresh, whole foods (grains and pulses) which will decrease internal heat, prevent inflammation, balance digestive fire and ground the body.
  • Consideration must also be given to balancing Vata:Develop a regular eating pattern and don’t skip meals. Don’t overeat as this is too taxing on the digestive system. Lunch should be the biggest meal of the day.
  • Warming (not spicy) spices are really beneficial to balance Vata.
  • Foods should be mild, cooling, moistening and nourishing.

Although Pitta is aggravated with too much oil. The nourishing, moistening qualities of oil are essential in the diet.

The qualities of oestrogen are cool, moistening and nourishing. Naturally your levels will drop throughout PM and M, so good quality oil is essential: ghee, olive oil, coconut oil and rapeseed oil are great. 

If you have a naturally small, light body type, your diet should be more dense and nourishing, but not heavy. Avoid deep frying and refined sugars and carbs: cooked grains, vegetables, pulses and stews.

If you have a naturally heavier body type and are prone to weight gain and lethargy, food should be lighter: lighter soups, less grains, lots of spices to aid digestion and less/no dairy.

  • Avoid spicy, acidic, sour, overly salty, deep-fried, refined white sugar and carbohydrates, highly processed, fermented food, alcohol and caffeine which can all increase heat in the body.
  • Sweet, bitter, astringent fruits are most suitable. Avoid over consumption of sour fruits.
  • Raw foods can be quite difficult to digest if the digestive fire is low. It’s advisable to consume them when seasonally appropriate: late spring and summer.  Pungent, heating vegetables should be observed as having heating qualities: radish, mustard greens, tomatoes and garlic. Tomatoes are very acidic and heating and are prone to aggravate Pitta.
  • Vata is balanced by sweet, sour and salty tastes and aggravated by bitter, pungent and astringent tastes. (see ‘Taste’ table). Although Vata is balanced by sweet tastes, this does not include refined sugar. The sweet taste should come from foods such as grains, milk, fruits and vegetables. Salt stimulates the appetite and improves digestion, but additional salt should not be added to the diet to pacify Vata.
  • Most grains are beneficial for Pitta. Soaking grains before eating e.g. soaking oats in coconut milk overnight before cooking will enhance their digestibility. Most nuts are oily and heating in nature, so should be consumed only occasionally. Soaked and peeled almonds are the best choice for Pitta.
  • When cooking beans and pulses, ensure you soak thoroughly (and sprout for a day where possible). Add a tsp fenugreek seeds when cooking beans and a pinch of asafoetida (hing) when cooking.
  • Red meat is oily and heating therefore should be consumed less frequently. While white meat and freshwater fish are more suitable. It is generally a good idea to reduce your consumption of red meat.
  • Dairy is cooling and nourishing although, hard, fermented cheese and salted butter can be heating.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking room temperature water or non caffeine tea throughout the day. Don’t drink too much water while you are eating – sip water throughout your meal.
  • Stick to a regular eating pattern of 3 meal per day rather than smaller frequent meals (5-6 per day). Lunch should be your most substantial meal. Don’t skip meals. If you are hungry between meals choose 1 snack from the fruit option. Try to have 2-3 hours between your evening meal and sleeping. Aim to fast overnight for 10 hours, but preferably 12.
Lifestyle: Look at the pace at which you live your life. Do you feel stressed by the demands of work, family, social life or fitting in time for exercise. What do you do to relax? Some activities enhance Yin and some deplete Yin.

  • Avoid excessive high intensity exercise. This is not to say you cannot enjoy your high intensity workout, Yoga or Pilates session. Just look at the balance of activities. Does your lifestyle include low intensity, gentle, Yin enhancing activities?
  • Participate in activity which are calming: walking, swimming, gentle yoga, meditation.
Tastes: Pitta is pacified by: sweet, bitter and astringent taste
Pitta can be aggravated by: sour, salty and pungent tastes – heating.
Remedies: Morning
  • Coriander water. 1-3tsp of coriander seeds, lightly crushed. Leave to infuse in a glass of water. Strain and drink in the morning. If excessive heat is a prominent symptom, double the amount can be made. Drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon.
  • 1/2tsp Shatavari and 1/4tsp ashwaghanda in 30mls boiling water and ghee. Allow to cool just enough to drink. Soma Tonic or Soma Jam. It is essential to consult with an Ayurvedic Practitioner before taking Ayurveda Preparations. Your Ayurvedic Practitioner will discuss your symptoms and take into consideration you medical, family history and your dosha in order to prescribe the herbal preparations suitable for you.
Agni deepana: Balances digestive fire. Before meals
  • 1/2 tsp dry roasted, ground cumin seeds with honey before lunch and dinner.
Ama Pachana: Elimination of toxins. After meal
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds in boiling water after meals.
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds in water to eliminate gas or heartburn (indigestion).
  • Dry liquorice root tea after meal.
  • 1-2 Triphala Tablets before bed.
  • Yin nourishing, nighttime drink. Milk or no-dairy milk simmered with sweet spices: cardamon, saffron, and cinnamon. Soothing and nourishing before bed.
Massage: Abhyanga (oil massage) is an essential part of Ayurvedic Therapy. As dryness is a prominent symptom of PM and M, external eleation can help alleviate the symptoms. Receiving a massage is also very relaxing and Yin enhancing. The perfect way to destress. Massaging the feet and the head with. coconut oil before bed can help alleviate heat from the body and aid sleep.
Massage with oils of opposite qualities. Coconut and sandalwood are particularly cooling.
Recipe Ideas:
  • Avoid raw fruit for breakfast. Baked or stewed fruit with spices is perfect.
  • Grain porridge:  We generally opt for porridge for breakfast, try a variety of grains: rice, millet or buckwheat. Oats can be very drying and absorb lots of moisture. Ensure you soak whatever grain overnight in water, milk, milk alternative or water. You can alway mix half water, half milk. Add sweet cooling spices like cardamon, cinnamon and saffron, 
  • Bread made from yeast should be avoided. Try soda bread, sourdough or flatbreads. 
  • Yoghurt should be consumed on its own and not mixed with fruit.
  • Nuts and seeds are drying and heating so use them springingly. Grind them before heating to enhance their digestibility.
Spices: Whole spices: coriander, cumin, fennel, saffron, cinnamon, cardamon, turmeric (sparingly), asafoetida, fenugreek.
Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, beans, squash and courgette. Observe vegetables which can be heating: tomatoes, carrots, onions (raw), garlic. Cook with good quality oil, add spices, vegetables, grains and pulses. Not too much red meat. White meat or fish occasionally.