Ayurveda and the menopause


This month we talk to Ayurvedic expert, Niti Sheth. After graduating from university, Niti travelled to India and studied at the world renowned Vaidyagrama – an Ayurvedic healing village in South India. Here she learnt the basic concepts of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Nutrition under the guidance of Dr Ramdas. Back home in Australia, Niti joined Back2Health – one of the leading Ayurvedic clinics in Brisbane. She soon started living her passion of Ayurveda through workshops, open days, expos, cooking demonstrations – and helping people adopt Ayurveda into their own lives. Niti has taken her wisdom, passion and vision with her and is sharing that in her new home, England.

Oh menopause – hot flushes, mood swings and irritability. A phase of life that we’ve demonised and dread having to face. But did you know that these descriptors have been placed on menopause by media and society? It’s not meant to have negative connotations associated with it. Just like we’ve come to associate childbirth with pain instead of with empowerment, menopause has been wrongly labelled. It’s a natural phase of life that all women go through – and if we’re imbalanced in our physical, mental or emotional health, then yes, we’ll experience some of the signs and symptoms that we commonly know of. If, however, we’re in a state of balance, then menopause is something you might even embrace!

So how do you ensure that you’re going through menopause in a balanced way? Using wisdom from one of the world’s oldest medicine systems, Ayurveda, let’s look at menopause from three angles of health: your physical health, mental health and emotional health.

Physical health: your hormones are changing inside your body, resulting in lower levels of oestrogen and progesterone. And when this isn’t balanced properly, it results in symptoms like hot flushes, increased stress and anxiety, dryness inside the body, insomnia and often osteoporosis. With the increased heat and dryness inside the body and mind, it’s important to eat things which help cool and moisten the body.

  • To avoid dryness: favour healthy fats and oils like flaxseed oil and ghee (to nourish the tissues and lubricate all the channels)
  • To avoid hot flushes: favour cooling herbs and spices like cumin, fennel, coriander, saffron and turmeric. Pomegranate juice and fresh lime or peppermint tea is excellent at cleansing the blood and removing excess heat from the body. Avoid heating foods like chillies, fried or fermented foods, caffeine and alcohol.
  • To prevent osteoporosis: favour appropriate dairy sources and sesame seeds.

Mental health: hormonal changes inside the body can affect our minds too. We suddenly have a lessened ability to maintain balance, even in the same environment with the same stressors. Even the slightest thing can send us off the edge. So how can we alleviate this stress? One key word is acceptance. Change is inevitable, and it will happen to all of us, so rather than resist this phase of life, it’s time to accept and embrace it. A lot of women don’t like the fact that now our bodies are telling us to slow down, we want to keep doing the same things at the same pace. But menopause and aging is a natural process of life, and the faster we work on accepting this, the easier the transition will be. Through journaling and meditation you can make peace with the past, and begin to accept the present and future. Write down the positives of these years of your life, write down all the things you’re looking forward to doing, be open to asking for help, and take measures in different areas of your life to slow down. Maybe it’s slowly dropping one day of work per week, or swapping your running for yoga, or saying no to a social event on your calendar – whatever it is for you, learn to slow down.

Emotional health: Express yourself. Emotions are a key part of our journey as a woman. It’s important to allow yourself the space and time to express your emotions rather than just suppress or push them away. It’s a key component of good health – being able to express yourself emotionally. Whether it’s through talking with another friend, or journaling, or exercising, or dancing, or even singing – let your body know that you don’t have to hold onto every single emotion you experience, you can let it go.

Remember that menopause doesn’t have to be painful and stressful – in many traditions of the East it’s just referred to as a phase of life – not a disease or disorder. It’s all about changing our perspective and embracing the next stage of life. Ayurveda is one of those traditions, having originated from India over 5000 years ago, and now has spread across the oceans. Even though it seems so ancient and archaic, it speaks of principles and guidelines which are still being utilised successfully today.

You can find out more about Ayurveda and how you can apply it in your daily life to treat all sorts of conditions or even just raise your health and wellbeing to the next level by contacting Niti Sheth at info@nitisheth.com – she posts daily tips and practical advice on how to incorporate this wisdom into a modern context. Find out more from her Instagram and Facebook pages.