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Any woman who has experienced painful menses knows how debilitating this can be.  Some of us used to spend a week or more in a brain fog unable to think, move, eat, or communicate in a coherent manner.  Back in the day there were no remedies in the “modern” world.

I was told by my first GYN that my cramps would go away after I’d had my first child.  Glaring at him, I said with a deadly calm “I’m 16, I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t even date.  Do you really expect me to get pregnant to get rid of my menstrual cramps?” after which he wrote out a prescription for birth control pills.

While this did gradually reduce my symptoms over time the underlying imbalance was never addressed (or even sought).  Western medicine only seems to look at symptoms as things to alleviate and has no mechanism to even think about root causes.  Our subsequent over-reliance on pills and potions comes with a steep price as new symptoms emerge as a direct result of the drugs.

In my case, a lifetime of taking birth control pills resulted in a virtual near-death experience as I went through menopause.  My ovaries had never really learned how to produce the hormones I needed as they were supplied by the pills.  I became increasingly estrogen-dominant;  fibroids grew all through my uterus, one big enough to press on my bladder (I had to pee every hour on the hour for years).  I developed cysts on my ovaries which then burst (one was so painful I lost my entire advanced Yoga practice overnight – I needed a narcotic pill just to get off my couch.  Fortunately I had a boyfriend who could get it for me…).  I also had endometriosis, a condition in which the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

I had spent a long time knowing something was very wrong but couldn’t get my (woman) GYN to listen to me.  She insisted that there was nothing wrong with me, and once things got so bad that they showed up in x-rays and mri’s she got upset that I consulted with a surgeon who said he could help me avoid a hysterectomy.  This gentle man assured me that if I could keep my hormones in balance that the fibroids would not grow back.

If I had only known more about the Ayurvedic lifestyle and the healing power of whole foods and natural remedies for the imbalances created by our Western lifestyle perhaps I never would have needed surgery at all.

From India’s Jiva Institute comes this remedy for painful menstruation (and it also works for no menstruation not due to menopause):

Take 10 grams each of the following seeds:  dill, fenugreek, carrot, and radish;  grind them up together and take 1 teaspoon in the morning and 1 teaspoon at night.

For symptoms of menopause, boil 1 teaspoon of licorice in 1 cup of water until the water reduces by half and sip that.

Be sure to eliminate all processed foods from your diet, try to follow a regular routine, and during your period be sure to rest – no killer workouts!  Walking is good for helping your circulation, practice calm, deep, steady breathing, and work at reducing your stress levels.

As we return to a more natural lifestyle we should begin noticing increased energy, reduced stress levels, and better health.  Our minds will be more clear and focused.  As we age we will not only feel better but look better (and younger!).  And most importantly, we can pass our newfound knowledge on to our friends, family members, and especially our children.

The flowers are finally out in force, so it must be spring FINALLY! Spring is Kapha, the energy of Earth and Water; in Chinese medicine it’s associated with the Wood element and is a time for meditation on cleansing the liver not only of accumulated toxins from our food but from stored emotions. The remedy is provided by Mother Nature herself in the bitter, pungent, and astringent greens that begin to grow during this season.

These plants counteract the tendency of Spring to produce mucus (who has allergies???), and coupled with an avoidance of dairy products (which can produce mucus) and liberal use of the neti pot (to rinse the nasal passages and flush the sinuses) we can learn to manage our symptoms without resorting to powerful drugs which dry the delicate sinus tissues and often make us feel sleepy and ill.

Not only will we begin to feel lighter in body as we shift from the heavier diet of winter but our minds become lighter as the weather warms and we spend more time outdoors. Take some time to be fully present as the season changes and really notice the effects on your body and mind…

tulips

tulips

April 2009
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