Ayurveda is an age-old art of natural healing widely practised and followed worldwide. It applies a personalised and holistic approach to managing PCOS. Ayurveda brings balance to the body by focusing on the root cause of PCOS. Lifestyle adjustments, herbal medicines, therapies, and diet modifications are part of the Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS. However, there is more to Ayurveda than just PCOS healing properties.
What is PCOS?
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a prevalent condition affecting women of reproductive age. It results from hormonal imbalance, affecting the ovulation and menstrual cycle. The hormonal imbalance affects follicular growth, forming multiple new cysts in the ovary. Hence the name: polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Some common symptoms of PCOS that you should look out for are:
- Periods that are irregular or very mild
- Large ovaries or ovaries with a lot of cysts
- Excessive body hair, particularly on the chest, face, back, and stomach (in a way like males have)
- Weight gain, particularly around the belly (abdomen)
- Acne or acne-prone skin
- Hair thinning or male-pattern baldness
- Extra skin on the neck, armpits in minor parts, also known as skin tag
- thick and dark skin patches on the back, neck, armpits and under breasts
It would help if you treated PCOS as early as possible because a late diagnosis may lead to lasting complications. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment help to avoid health risks and chronicity.
Ayurvedic Management of PCOS
PCOS comes under the Ayurveda chapter of uterovaginal disorders or Yoni Vyapat. It is one of twenty diseases in that section. The ancient science of Ayurveda looks at PCOS as an imbalance and classifies it as a Kapha disorder. In Ayurveda, the channel that carries the female reproductive fluid is called Artava Vaha Srota. And PCOS occurs when excess Kapha blocks the natural balanced flow of channels and fluids.
Ayurvedic PCOS management follows these protocols:
- Managing obesity and insulin resistance
- Rectifying hormonal imbalance
- Strengthening and revitalising the female reproductive system
- Ayurvedic detoxification of the body
Panchakarma is the first line of ayurvedic PCOS treatment for eradicating toxins from your reproductive system. Therefore, the vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries undergo cleansing, and hormones are balanced. After panchakarma, your doctor uses special herbs to bring balance and revitalisation to the reproductive system. Ayurvedic herbs are rich in phytoestrogen, which can drastically reduce insulin resistance and inflammation responsible for PCOS.
The Five PCOS Therapies in Panchakarma
Panchakarma is the most effective Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS. Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “five remedies.” All five therapies are detoxification methods that cleanse and eliminate toxins from various body systems. The following are the five therapies:
It uses ayurvedic herbs to induce toxin elimination through controlled vomiting. In addition, Vamana aids in hormone balance, increases fertility and is crucial for long-term PCOS therapy.
Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation)
To get rid of all kinds of impurities, you eat herbal laxatives to boost the cleansing process. Vierchana is a successful treatment for irregular or heavy periods and other PCOS symptoms.
Vasti (Colonic Enema)
One of the most widely suggested PCOS treatments, Vasti, entails a series of medicated enemas (a technique for stimulating stool release) over several days. Vasti cleanses and revitalises the reproductive system and helps relieve symptoms of PCOS.
Udvartana treatment involves massaging the entire body with herbal based dry powder. Acne, a bothersome symptom of PCOS, can be reduced by this massage therapy.
The last part of the Panchakarma treatment involves blowing dry powders or herbs into the nose. Nasya therapy works on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, which helps to alleviate PCOS symptoms.
Proven Facts of Ayurvedic Ingredients in PCOS Treatment
Cinnamon has hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anti-obesity, antihyperlipidemic, and anti-diabetic properties. This spice supplementation improves the menstrual cycle and usually is a useful therapeutic option for some women with PCOS. It helps women with PCOS ovulate by regulating menstrual hormones and lowering insulin resistance. Its insulin sensitivity improvement could be an effective strategy for treating PCOS.
Cinnamaldehyde and trans-cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon restore menstrual cyclicity. In addition, these substances lower testosterone levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, the preliminary data from a study suggest that cinnamon supplementation can be an effective treatment option for some women with PCOS.
Ashoka is scientifically known as Saraca Indica bark. It can treat menorrhagia (prolonged menstrual bleeding for more than seven days). Ayurveda uses the dried bark and the flower of Ashoka as a tonic for PCOS women suffering from uterine problems. Its stem bark treats all menstrual-cycle-related disorders.
A study claims that the phytochemical constituents of Ashoka keep women youthful and free from several disorders. Interestingly this tree is known as the ‘without sorrow or sorrow less tree’. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties that heal the endometrium (uterine lining) and control oestrogen levels (sex hormone responsible for female reproductive system development and regulation). Hormone regulation is beneficial because PCOS causes high levels of sex hormones in the body, which interferes with the formation and release of eggs in the ovaries.
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and aids in the reduction of insulin resistance. In addition, turmeric enhances hormone and lipid profiles, antioxidant and glycemic status, and ovarian morphology. These effects could help manage PCOS and prevent ovarian cell malfunction. Research states that turmeric has a broad spectrum of biological activities, making it a promising medicine for treating clinical and pathological issues associated with PCOS.
Tulsi is a traditional, valuable herbal remedy for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome. It has remarkable anti-androgenic characteristics, which help reduce androgen production (Hyperandrogenism) and helps in lowering PCOS symptoms. In addition, the beneficial effects of tulsi help treat various metabolic diseases, and they show promise in the treatment of obesity and associated co-morbidities.
A study confirms that neem leaf paste given once a day can benefit women with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a significant cause of concern in PCOS. Rectifying insulin resistance would mean solving 50% of the problem. Antibacterial, antifungal, anti-diabetic, and sedative effects abound in neem. As a result, neem is present in many consumer products, including toothpaste, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It is an excellent blood purifier and aids in maintaining good skin. Neem is also used to treat acne and other skin conditions during PCOS.
The ayurvedic treatment uses amla to enhance female fertility. It removes toxins from the body, regulates the menstrual cycle, and restores hormonal equilibrium. It also combats the unfavourable effects of PCOS, such as obesity and undesirable hair growth. To flush out toxins and promote weight loss, drink amla juice combined with warm water every morning. It’s also good to include little chunks of amla in your daily diet. It not only prevents pancreatitis but also controls blood sugar levels.
Vitamin C in amla is a potent antioxidant that helps counteract the effects of oxidative stress, one of the causes of diabetes. Fresh amla, amla juice, or amla murabba, a classic Indian delicacy fashioned from this bitter-sweet fruit, are all excellent options you can include in your diet.
People with diabetes often eat bitter gourd (karela) and ivy gourd (tinda) to help them control their insulin and glucose levels. Women with PCOS can also consume both the leaves and the vegetables. They can be cooked regularly and consumed at least five times per week. Alternatively, you can mash karela and drink it as juice. Gourds are rich in fibre, control insulin resistance and help in providing satiety.
A study claims the beneficial effect of fenugreek seed extract in managing PCOS symptoms. Eating the seed extract leads to cyst size reduction and disintegration, which helps you to achieve regular menstrual cycles. You can even consume fenugreek seed extract capsules. However, soaking fenugreek seeds overnight and having seeds along with water in the morning is a natural way to take them.
Ginger acts as a natural treatment for PCOS. It’s also known to help with period control and hormone balance. You can eat ginger in a variety of ways. For example, drink its juice after diluting it with lukewarm water. If you’re having trouble, try adding ginger to your tea. It helps with menstrual cramps or PCOS pain.
PCOS Lifestyle Recommendations
- Drink plenty of water. Water consumption is critical for women with PCOS as they need to stay hydrated throughout the day. You should drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.
- Exercise moderately for roughly 45 minutes each day. Sudden weight gain and elevated insulin levels are two of the adverse effects of PCOS for women. Moderate activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, helps control weight growth and insulin levels.
- Engage in yoga and pranayama exercises. Yoga is a holistic treatment that can help you relax mentally and physically. For example, yoga can help women with PCOS manage their anxiety, hormones, menstrual cycles, and other metabolic factors while reducing abdominal pain. Pranayama, or breathing exercises, helps relieve tension and relax the mind.
- Reduce anxiety and tension. Cortisol (stress hormones) production is higher in PCOS women. As a result, cortisol builds up in the body, causing anxiety, despair, and stress. Therefore, it’s critical to control mental strain by eating a well-balanced diet and following a calm lifestyle.
Dietary Recommendations for PCOS
You can efficiently treat PCOS by incorporating specific dietary features into your daily routine, such as lowering sugar, salt, and dairy consumption, eating various colourful vegetables and fruits, and avoiding fried foods. In addition, include superfoods like ginger, dates, fenugreek, and whole grains in your diet to enhance your general health and strengthen your internal organs.
Some dietary recommendations to follow while in ayurvedic treatment are:
- Avoid sugar, refined, processed, salty meals and artificial sweeteners.
- Choose whole grains and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
- Limit or eliminate salt intake, particularly during menstruation.
- Include foods like sprouts, seeds, plant-based protein, and prebiotics in your diet.
Ayurveda recommends a comprehensive and spiritual attitude to life. Women with PCOS can fight off many symptoms and benefit in the long run with the correct food and lifestyle changes and relaxing techniques like meditation.
Drawbacks of Ayurvedic Treatments
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. However, in some circumstances, it can be toxic for people who are reactive to the herbs used in making the medicine. Therefore, it may have adverse effects on people who are allergic to this kind of natural treatment. Furthermore, a study highlights that ayurvedic treatment may not always be completely safe due to chances of adulteration and some inherently occurring alkaloids.
Other drawbacks of ayurvedic treatments are:
- Ayurvedic treatment requires expertise to be effective in the long run. As a result, it may not be accessible to everyone and can be expensive. On the other hand, many practitioners may not have the proper credentials.
- There is no standard dosage for this kind of medication. So, there is always the risk of poisoning when using herbs.
- Mixing various forms of herbs with PCOS medication can cause unwanted drug interactions.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome has complex manifestations and requires timely treatment. Ayurveda is a holistic approach that aims to address the root cause of PCOS. Ayurvedic medicine demands to make a healthier shift in your dietary and lifestyle habits. Following the panchakarma therapy, you can see a drastic improvement in PCOS symptoms. Yoga is also beneficial. However, Ayurvedic treatment is always personalised. You should consult an experienced ayurvedic doctor to discover the best treatment approach for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can Ayurvedic cure PCOS?
A. There is no cure for PCOS. But within a month, you will see improvements in symptoms. And within three months of practising Ayurveda, you can completely control it. Please note each body is different and requires special attention. It may take you some more time, but with Ayurveda, you can indeed manage PCOS.
Q. Which Ayurvedic treatment is best for PCOS?
A. Ayurvedic treatment is an umbrella term. It has many aspects within it. For example, there are dietary, lifestyle, and yoga asanas in Ayurveda. Therefore, you should consult a qualified person who can curtail the best ayurvedic treatments solely for you. But panchakarma is the best and most common approach for PCOS.
Q. Is Triphala good for PCOS?
A. Triphala is an ayurvedic medicine. It helps in cleansing and detoxifying your reproductive system. Therefore, Triphala can visibly alter PCOS impacts.
Q. Is ghee good for PCOS?
A. Ghee, when taken into moderation, is good. However, it is saturated fat and is harmful when taken in excess amounts. If you are physically active, you can include two teaspoons of ghee per day in your PCOS diet.
Q. Does Ashwagandha cure PCOS?
A. Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic plant that helps the body harmonise hormones, which may help reduce stress and PCOS symptoms. For example, Ashwagandha powder helps combat several PCOS-related symptoms by increasing stamina, decreasing anxiety, and balancing blood sugar and mood swings. It also improves sleep, hormone production, and libido by regulating the stress response and nourishing the endocrine system (ovaries, thyroid, adrenals).
Q. Is fenugreek good for PCOS?
A. Yes, it is suitable for PCOS. Multiple studies have shown that fenugreek extract can cause cyst size reduction and disintegration. In addition, fenugreek seed extracts help treat diabetes and undesired weight gain seen in PCOS women.
Q. Can I eat curd in PCOS?
A.Yes, you can have curd. However, the amount of curd you eat should not be more than 4-5 small servings in a week. Curd with lunch aid in proper digestion.
Q. Which Ayurvedic medicine is best for irregular periods?
A. Consult a doctor before taking any medicine. Please note that drugs have side effects. So do not take any medication before consulting a doctor. There is no definite ayurvedic medicine for PCOS. But you can try herbal medicines infused with neem, cinnamon, ginger, or fenugreek.
Q. Is Suji good for PCOS?
A. Suji is a processed form of cereal with a Glycemic index of 60-66. Hence, it affects blood glucose levels if taken in excess, which is not desirable in PCOS. Therefore, whole grains like wheat, Jowar, and Bajra are more suitable for the body.
Q. Is chapati good for PCOS?
A. Chapati, made from whole wheat flour, is a good option for PCOS because it offers fibre and essential b vitamins. However, multi-grain or ragi chapati is a better option.
Q. Can I have jaggery in PCOS?
A. Sugar is restricted in PCOS. But if you think you are craving the sweet flavour, you can consume a little jaggery instead of refined white sugar. Jaggery is better than sugar as it has minerals that sugar doesn’t have.