Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder that affects women in the reproductive age group. PCOS is caused due to a hormonal imbalance (excess production of male hormone levels (androgen)) which affects the ovaries. Every month, ovaries produce eggs which are released during ovulation as a normal part of the menstrual cycle.
In PCOS, eggs are either not produced or not released by the ovaries, leading to irregular and prolonged menstrual cycles. Small fluid-filled sacs (follicles) develop in the ovaries leading to failure of release of the eggs. Irregular menstrual cycles leads to:
Infertility (not being able to get pregnant)
Development of fluid-filled sacs in the ovary (cysts)
PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Even today, a lot of women prefer to treat the symptoms of PCOS through ayurveda. Ayurveda is an age-old, holistic healing system in India, which is highly prevalent and followed across the world. Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS includes lifestyle changes, herbs, ayurvedic therapies, and diet modifications.
Lifestyle Recommendations for PCOS
1. Stay well hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day is extremely important for women with PCOS. Drinking about 1.5 to 2 liters of water daily is recommended.
2. Do moderate exercises for nearly 45 minutes daily. One of the side-effects for women with PCOS is sudden weight gain and increased insulin levels. Moderate exercises like walking, jogging, or cycling help in reducing weight gain and keeps insulin levels in check.
3. Practice yoga and pranayama. Yoga is a form of holistic medicine that can ease your mind and body. Yoga in women with PCOS can provide relief from abdominal pain and also regulates anxiety, hormones, menstrual cycles, and other metabolic parameters. Pranayama or breathing exercises reduces stress and keeps the mind calm.
4. Eat diets as recommended by ayurveda. Foods suggested in ayurveda for PCOS patients include:
Bitter gourd and amla (Indian gooseberry) to control blood sugar levels
Fenugreek leaves and tulsi (basil) to maintain insulin levels
Honey, mixed with lemon and water for controlling your weight
5. Manage stress and anxiety. Women with PCOS have higher production of cortisol (stress hormones), and they are not able to metabolize them. Cortisol accumulates and leads to anxiety, depression, and stress. It's important to manage your stress by having a balanced diet and practicing the above recommendations.
Ayurvedic Herbs to Treat PCOS
1. Cinnamon: regulates menstrual cycles and affects insulin resistance, which helps in ovulation in women with PCOS
2. Ashwagandha: balances cortisol levels to improve stress and PCOS symptoms
3. Turmeric: an anti-inflammatory agent that decreases insulin resistance
4. Neem: a paste of neem and tulsi leaves, taken once every morning can help women reduce insulin resistance
5. Ashoka: has anti-inflammatory compounds that repair the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) and regulates estrogen (sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system) levels. Women with PCOS have high levels of estrogen that hampers the development and release of eggs in the ovaries.
Other commonly used herbs to treat symptoms of PCOS include Shilajit, Guduchi, Vrikshamla, and Java Plum.
Ayurvedic Therapies for PCOS
Ayurvedic remedies work on correcting the underlying root cause along with the symptoms of the disease. In PCOS, the most effective Ayurvedic therapy is Panchakarma.
Panchakarma means five therapies. All five therapies are detoxifying procedures that cleanse all systems of the body and remove toxins. The five therapies are:
1. Vamana: A procedure to induce oral vomiting through certain ayurvedic herbs. Vamana helps in balancing hormones, boosts fertility, and is essential for long-term management of PCOS.
2. Virechana: In this cleansing method, herbal laxatives are given in the form of medicated oils to throw out all kinds of toxins. Vierchana is effective in controlling irregular or heavy periods and managing other symptoms of PCOS.
3. Basti: One of the highly recommended therapies for PCOS, Basti involves a series of medicated enemas (a technique used to stimulate stool evacuation) performed over a number of days. Basti revitalizes and detoxifies the reproductive system, helping relieve some symptoms of PCOS.
4. Udvartana: The entire body is massaged with dry powder in this technique. Massaging the body helps in getting rid of excess acne, an annoying symptom of PCOS.
5. Nasya: The last step of Panchakarma treatment in which dry powders or herbs are blown into the nose. Nasya therapy acts primarily on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and helps in relieving the symptoms of PCOS.
Dietary Recommendations for PCOS
1. Avoid sugar, refined, processed, and salty foods, and artificial sweeteners.
2. Choose whole grains, and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
3. Reduce or limit your salt intake, especially during menstruation.
4. Add foods like sprouts, dry fruits, fatty fish, and buttermilk to your daily diet.
Ayurveda recommends a holistic and spiritual approach to life. With the right diet and lifestyle modifications and relaxation techniques like meditation, women with PCOS can fight off many symptoms and benefit from it in the long-run.
1. Healthline. 2021. Ayurvedic Treatment For PCOS: About And Effectiveness. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/ayurvedic-treatment-for-pcos#ayurvedic-treatment-for-pcos> [Accessed 12 January 2021].
2. womenshealth.gov. 2021. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome | Womenshealth.Gov. [online] Available at: <https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome> [Accessed 12 January 2021].
3. Art of Living (India). 2021. 5 Simple Home Remedies For PCOS. [online] Available at: <https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/lifestyle/well-being/5-simple-home-remedies-for-pcos> [Accessed 12 January 2021].
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