“We were cursed! We just aren’t the lucky ones!” my aunt once told me when she was talking about painful menstruation and how it runs in our family. I remember looking at her through my twelve year old eyes frozen by what seemed to be an absolute truth.
Welcome to Womanhood!
Ever since I started menstruation I suffered with cramps, mood swings, uncontrollable cravings, bloating, constipation AND diarrhea, leg shakes & even vomiting! The first day of my period was always a “stay at home” day taking copious amounts of Naproxen (a prescription muscle relaxant) with a hot water bottle moaning and groaning until I passed out! As I entered my early twenties I went on the birth control pill in desperation to ease my period problems. It did, but it also fabricated my cycle and that just didn’t sit well with me. I knew that the pill wasn’t the final answer.
It wasn’t until three years later that I finally mustered up the courage to come off the pill and as soon as I did… the wicked curse was back! The pain, the moods. I felt doomed... utterly defeated. Perhaps my aunt was right! Perhaps we were cursed! So, I continued to medicate myself cycle to cycle.
I longed for a natural remedy!
Well, twenty-seven years (and a whole lot of learning) later I no longer rely on the pill and I can confidently exclaim, “there is no curse!”
But there definitely was an imbalance!
Through my practice and studies of Yoga I came to learn of an ancient natural healing science called Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the natural, preventative, health care system to Yoga and together they are two inseparable paths that lead to a life of balance with optimal vitality. The five Great Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Ether make up all living matter in the Universe. Ayurveda acknowledges that these five elements come together in different ratios to make up what is referred to as the three Doshas:
Air + Ether = Vata Dosha
Fire + Water = Pitta Dosha
Water + Earth = Kapha Dosha
We must keep in mind that every living matter has all five elements within, however one's Doshic nature will be determined by the dominating single, dual or tri-doshic tendencies. It is also very important to note that the quality of the elements is what manifests into matter. For example people with a predominate Vata Dosha, which is primarily air element will have a tendency towards being light, cold and mobile just like the wind! The word Dosha is a Sanskrit term meaning, “that which spoils”. In other words, a Dosha will always have a tendency to create imbalance if not supported through the appropriate counter-balancing lifestyle regimen.
PMS is not a “normal” part of a balanced woman’s cycle.
Similar to all dis-eases, uterine complications and PMS are simply the result of Dosha imbalances. Our physical body is an intricate relationship between tissues, systems and channels and its optimal function is dependent upon its state of deficient, excess or balanced Doshas. Menstruation is a process of eliminating the uterine lining that thickens in preparation for pregnancy. When pregnancy does not occur the thickened uterine lining is no longer needed and menstruation (bleeding) occurs to release it. The elimination process and the quality of the blood that is eliminated is a very important aspect in menstruation.
Apana Vayu is the governing downward energy in the body that moves things out… feces, urine, menses and even a fetus! If for any reason Apana Vayu (elimination) isn’t functioning optimally menstruation will surely be problematic. I have come to learn firsthand how simple lifestyle habits accompanied with herbal remedies can help support, balance and even dissipate what once felt like a lifelong curse! Menstruation, being a natural time of cleansing and eliminating, both physically and emotionally, what a woman’s body no longer needs, is a time to slow down and honour the process of release. As we approach menstruation our bodies conserve and direct its power of energy down towards Apana Vayu. This means that our process of digestion, physically in the belly as well as mentally in the mind, will be slightly compromised. It’s no wonder that bloating, constipation, fatigue and mood swings are on the top of the PMS list!
Simple Tips for Supporting Menstrual Elimination
- Starting a week before and until the end of menstruation is a great time to enjoy simple cooked wholesome foods that are light & warm such as vegetarian soups and stews.
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, dairy, oily and spicy foods, alcohol as well as caffeine as these tend to dry and impede the elimination process.
Herbal Support for a Healthy Cycle
In addition to slowing down and honouring my menstruation through dietary awareness, which began to balance my Doshas, I also found that herbs hold a subtle, yet profound gift. Herbs are Mother Nature’s plethora of remedies yearning to be unearthed.
Four great herbs that offer menstrual support by regulating uterine blood flow and balancing Apana Vayu are: Hibiscus, Rose, Red Raspberry and Saffron.
- Hibiscus flowers are a sacred offering from Mother Earth that purify the blood and reproductive tissues of congestion and contractions helping to ease the downward release! And they have a delicious astringent (drying) taste that works to cool excess heat from the body.
- Rose flowers are delicate yet profoundly beneficial to alleviate heat, congestion and inflammation by cooling and promoting circulation to the blood and reproductive tissues. With its sweet (lubricating) taste it offers ease of circulation and gently works to soften and open the heart for deeper emotional release.
- Red Raspberry leaves are a glorious gift to the uterus and colon as they help to soothe inflammation and promote peristalsis. Peristalsis is the wave-like motion of contracting and relaxing muscle tissue that help Apana Vayu move things – such as feces & menses - out! It is a very necessary part of the elimination process. With it’s astringent and sweet taste, red raspberry leaves work to cool the blood, ease circulation and elimination as well as reduce nausea and vomiting.
- Saffron threads from certain crocus flowers are a precious gift from Mother Nature as they work to revitalize and rejuvenate the reproductive system, reduce muscle spasms and remove gas from the intestines. They offer a pungent and bitter taste that works to stimulate circulation, cool the blood, alleviate gas and bloating as well as ease cramps.
Together, hibiscus, rose, red raspberry and saffron are essential to menstrual health. These four herbs support the process of release and relief that every bleeding woman longs for! So if you’re suffering cycle to cycle in what seems to be an endless curse of painful menstruation I encourage you to try this remedy:
Bloody Health Herbal Tea
- 2 Cups of boiled Water
- 1 Tbsp. Hibiscus flowers
- 1 Tsp. Rose flowers
- 1 Tsp. Red Raspberry leaves
- and a pinch of Saffron
Steep for 5 mins in hot water. Strain & Enjoy!
Try this tea daily 1-2 weeks pre-menstruation as well as throughout your menses.
From one bleeding wombmyn to another, I’d love to hear your feedback, thoughts and experiences! Leave a comment below or DM me @deelunama
Happy Healthy Bleeding Sisters!
Until soon, D xo