Pre menstrual symptoms cover a broad spectrum such as headache, cramping, swollen breasts, craving sweets, and sluggishness, among others. The emotional symptoms may include mood swings, impatience, depression, or anxiety. Although the above are common experiences in our culture today, they are not natural. Ayurveda and Yoga offer not only relief, but prevention from these problems.
The most significant factors contributing to PMS are your own diet and lifestyle causing imbalance to the doshas. Bringing balance to the doshas specifically will typically eliminate PMS. And it doesn't take long for the improved response. It does, however, require changing what you are doing that is causing the problem.
*Avoid coffee, caffeinated tea, alcohol, drugs, refined sugar, and most refined food to stop aggravating the dosha imbalance.
*Avoid resentment, aggressive activities, and hostility as much as possible.
There are also environmental factors that contribute to imbalance including exposure to pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals in food, water, and the atmosphere.
The time of menstruation is a time to go inward and be quiet. Ideally you would have someone cook for you and rest for those few days. I realize this might not be practical for you, but at least consider it a time to minimize outward activities and be very gentle with yourself. Remember, if you indulge the cravings, that will take you more out of balance and the symptoms will often be worse in the next cycle.
Here are some suggested general and dosha specific remedies:
*Have aloe vera juice (1/2 cup) or 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel, 3 times daily for 7-10 days prior to the period due date. If you are feeling very cold in a winter climate this is not your best choice.
*Dry roast 1 tsp cumin seeds, cool, and chew slowly with 1/2 cup aloe juice. Repeat daily as needed until the menstruation begins. Then stop.
*The essential oil of myrrh is very helpful at this time. Combine it with frankincense or rose for a soothing remedy. Place a drop on the hands, rub them together, and breath it in 3 times daily. My dosha balancing blends are excellent for this use. The blends of Sattva, Jasmine with Vetiver, and Auspicious are also effective at soothing symptoms.
Ayurvedic herbal blends tailored to your individual needs are available in powder, tablet, liquids, and jams from Myra.
Looking at the dosha specific imbalances provides a better idea of how to respond to pms.
**Vata symptoms tend to be depression, constipation, headache, agitation, feeling spacey, ringing in the ears, dizziness, anxiety, disturbed sleep, and painful cramps. Sesame or castor oil pack on the low belly is helpful twice each day as needed. Have 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel with a pinch of black pepper 3 times each day. Have only soupy white basmati rice with turmeric, salt, and ghee for a few meals. Drink tea made from a small amount of fresh ginger and licorice powder with honey added after boiling. Ayurvedic herbs such as ashwaganda and shatavari are helpful. Warm milk before bed with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg will calm the sleep.
**Pitta symptoms include irritation, agitation, hot temper, diarrhea, acne, spotting between periods, excessive flow, and early onset of flow. Coconut oil on the low belly is helpful as well as drinking coconut water (as long as you don't feel cold and are not living in a cold winter). Shatavari is also very helpful as well as hibiscus in a powder formula or as tea. Other spices to use in cooking include fennel, corander, and turmeric. Kitchadi or soupy white basmati rice will be helpful to clear up intestinal disturbance.
**Kapha symptoms include a heavy sluggishness, easily crying, neediness, tendency toward colds, swollen breasts, mucous in the menstrual flow, and tendency toward edema (swelling). A pack on the low belly of 1/2 castor oil and 1/2 mustard oil will bring relief to symptoms. Warming spices are helpful such as cinnamon, black pepper, clove, and ginger. Avoid excessively oily foods and sugar.
Yoga practices such as asana, pranayama, and meditation are very helpful at alleviating and helping to prevent the symptoms by bringing balance to the mind, body, and spirit. This assumes the practices are done in a sattvic manner, meaning with harmony and balance. That would exclude hot rooms, loud music, mirrors, and other rajasic (disturbing and distracting) factors. Practice asana in a moderate temperature in silence with focus on the breath. Focus on what you feel. Listen to your body, don't push, just ride the breath. Work from the inside out. Restorative poses are a good choice if you are having symptoms. Take a break from asana on the first day of your flow; and possibly through the first 4 days. Be gentle, listen to your body and not to a fearful mind.
PMS is the result of unnatural living. These practices bring you back to balance. Come back to your true nature and be free of this detrimental cycle. Honor yourself as a woman and take care of your true needs.