The world doesn’t hold space for women’s reproductive wellbeing. We are pressured into wearing too many hats, constantly juggling roles, and pushing ourselves beyond our breaking point. As a result, the quality of women’s health is deteriorating—be it due to paucity of time, lack of movement, minimal attention to mental health, unhealthy dietary choices, or a plethora of other reasons. Studies tell us that cases of infertility, menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and miscarriages are on the rise.
There are ways to use Ayurvedic medicine to support ourselves in a world that can be uncaring. Ayurveda has a strong history of strengthening women’s bodies, and we can turn to this ancient wisdom to find health in the modern era.
A Note on Using Ayurvedic Herbs
Ayurvedic herbs can help maintain your reproductive health. But remember that Ayurveda is all about customized healing. Always consult with an Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner before you start to take any Ayurvedic herbs, as the same herb can work as poison for one person and nectar for another. Ayurveda is about what your body needs now, your doshic imbalances, your age, the season, and your geographic location.
Ashwagandha is a great example of this. Sure, ashwagandha can help calm your mind if your Vata dosha is imbalanced. But if you are a high Pitta individual, the heating energetics of ashwagandha will do you more damage than good in the long run.
Ayurvedic herbs can be taken internally or externally. They are available as capsules or in powdered form or even in oils. Ayurvedic plants are generally seen as safe and free from side effects, but improper usage can yield undesirable results. A few herbs have contraindications and might interfere with your prescription medication. Pregnant women and lactating mothers need to be doubly careful to run things by their healthcare practitioner before starting to use any Ayurvedic herbs.
How Ayurvedic Herbs Can Support Us
Ayurveda reiterates that herbs are integral to the web of life. I wish I knew about Ayurvedic herbs when I was a young girl dealing with headaches, period cramps, and PMS-related mood swings. But I have studied Ayurveda for many years, and it’s changed my world.
A few weekends ago, on a summer Saturday night, I ate something spicy for dinner, which was Pitta dosha provoking. Pitta imbalance can look like a lot of things in the mind and body, from heavy menstrual bleeding to lashing out at others to being judgmental of others to heartburn or diarrhea. Mine turned out to be skin inflammation. I washed my face with cold water and applied chandana (sandalwood) paste, a cooling herb to the inflammation at bedtime. By the next morning, there was no sign of the inflammation. It’s not magic; Ayurveda is a medical system that is over 5,000 years old.
In Ayurveda, shatavari is considered one of the most revered herbs. Also known as Asparagus racemosus, shatavari is an Indian herb commonly found in the Himalayas and considered a rasayana (rejuvenative herb) for the reproductive system. It cools the body and strengthens and nourishes the tissues.
One translation of shatavari is “100 spouses,” implying its role in promoting fertility and vitality. As a nutritive tonic, it encourages the healthy production of milk in lactating mothers. It’s been supportive to my clients going through the menopausal transition. It has even been linked to stabilizing one’s mood and emotions during the menstrual cycle.
Research shows that shatavari increases the female libido, benefits women’s fertility, and maintains the healthy production of female hormones. Considered sattvic (pure, harmonious) in nature, shatavari also calms the mind.
Avoid if allergic to asparagus.
Avoid in case of excess Kapha, ama (toxins), and mucus.
If you grew up in an Indian home, you have probably heard your mom or grandma or mother-in-law talk about the cholesterol-lowering abilities of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), known as methi. Methi also has several other potential health benefits for women.
It supports the healthy flow of milk in lactating mothers. As a women’s tonic, fenugreek nourishes rasa dhatu, supporting the healthy production of breast milk and acting as a rejuvenate to the female reproductive system. Research shows that fenugreek can relieve women of painful menstrual periods. Fenugreek may help improve sex drive and stamina in women by increasing levels of estrogen.
Aside from its use as a culinary spice, fenugreek seeds can be steeped as a tea or sprouted into fresh and flavorful greens.
May increase Pitta in excess.
Pregnant women must avoid fenugreek as it may lead to premature uterine contractions.
Ashoka (Saraca indica) is Ayurvedic medicine’s foremost uterine tonic, known to build a healthy uterus. Its name literally means “remover of sorrow,” proving its ability to promote health and healing. Ashoka has many traditional uses that help support a healthy female reproductive system. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anticancer, anti-larval, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-hemorrhagic, antioxytocic, antipyretic, analgesic, and cooling actions.
Due to these medicinal properties, ashoka is commonly used to treat menorrhagia, leucorrhea, vaginal infections, dysmenorrhea, and uterine sluggishness in women. Ashoka tones the uterus, easing heavy menstrual flow and relieving discomfort. It helps in promoting a healthy balance of hormonal levels in women. Ashoka is useful for supporting a normal, healthy menstrual flow. It is also considered particularly effective for female infertility and endometriosis. Its anti-fungal property is also used to treat any fungal infection of the vagina.
Avoid ashoka if breastfeeding.
Consult with your doctor if pregnant.
Exercise caution and talk to a doctor if you have a cardiac condition.
Want to pair Ayurveda with yoga for better health? Try yoga for menstruation.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained Ayurvedic coach, contact Sweta here.