Ayurveda Q & A PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Jay Apte   

Ayurveda has been practiced in the U.S. for only about 30 years, yet it is one of the systems of medicine native to India and is thousands of years old. Readers are invited to submit questions for “Ayurveda Q & A” to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr. Jay Apte
Dr. Jay Apte

Q: I was on birth control for six years (beginning at age fifteen). When I stopped, I didn’t get a period for the next seven months. I noticed a pain in my right lower abdomen, and my gynecologist discovered I had cysts on my ovaries and through many blood tests, diagnosed polycystic ovaries. I was given hormones to induce a period (which worked) and then went back on birth control pills. I have done some research about holistic ways to heal this, most say to get off the pill, reduce sugar intake, and go through a deep emotional clearing. here are problems with this in that I do not have the time to take a break from life and retreat into my emotional storage house until this is resolved, and I am afraid that if I stop taking the pill again, my cysts may come back and I will need surgery to remove them.

There must be a better way to address this in balance, without depending on birth control hormones or taking hiatus from life. Do you have any recommendations?

A: When you are on birth control pills, this causes cycles without ovulation, bringing up the old adage, “If you don’t use it you lose it.” Taking birth control pills for six straight years since the age of fifteen has caused some imbalance in ovaries. When taking birth control pills, the monthly period is just a withdrawal bleeding due to the hormone level dropping.

Be a little patient. Around puberty, the body transitions from kapha (earth and water elements) part of the life cycle to the pitta (fire) stage of life. This is the time when hormone levels start increasing. During the pitta years, the hormones are high because it is a child-bearing period of life. Hormonal cycles in the body work on negative feedback mechanism. This means that when there are lower levels of hormones in the blood, the endocrine gland secretes more of the hormones, but when you take artificial hormones, there is an adequate level of the hormones in the bloodstream, so the ovaries never get the message to produce more. When they have nothing to do they can become relatively dysfunctional.

So the moment you went off the pills, you didn’t get a period for some time. Ovaries need to revive to secrete hormones. Six years taking birth control pills is a prolonged period of time when your body is exposed to artificial hormones, so you need to give your ovaries more time to come back to normal. In this case, restarting birth control pills is not the solution that will bring you back into balance.

Ayurveda has a different view than conventional medicine. When doshas (elements or energetic forces, such as vata, pitta and kapha) and dhatus (body tissues) go out of balance, they manifest as disease. So the cysts on the ovary may be due to blockage of ovarian function. The solution? Bring back life to ovaries.

Diet, lifestyle practices and herbs will help to restart the function of the ovaries. Along with physical balance, emotional balance is equally or more important. The mind plays an important role in healing as it controls all of the physiological functions in the body.

Following are a few suggestions for the next few months:

  • Stay away from birth control pills
  • Have faith and feel calm (believing that you will get normal cycles and will conceive is crucial).
  • Eat fresh food, which provides more prana (vital life force) to the body, as well as veggies, fruits (which both contain natural phytochemicals, including vitamins and minerals for normalizing the bodily functions), nuts, eggs (all seeds stimulate seed formation in the body according to the precept “like increases like”), spices (ginger, chili, and many mints) increase heat and stimulate hormones. Since I do not know your body constitution, I cannot recommend a constitution-specific diet, but these general principles can be helpful.
  • Eat three meals and zip your lips in between. This improves metabolism thereby reviving ovarian function.
  • Exercise: take a brisk walk for thirty to forty minutes every day. Exercise increases body heat, removes blockages in srotas (channels), and improves normal functioning of the systems.
  • Herbs: Shatavari (Asparagus racemosis) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are both excellent herbs to stimulate ovaries. Aloe vera cleanses female reproductive system. Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) is good as a rasayana (rejuvenative) to revive organs and gokshura (Tribulus terrestris) is a wonderful herb to open up channels. Shweta musali, kavachabeeja
    and chikana are specific herbs to stimulate ovulation. Many of these should be recommended by an Ayurvedic specialist.

The most important thing is to be very calm and happy at this stage because your happy mind is going to direct your ovaries to start functioning again.

Q: I am twenty-seven years old and have been married for one year. I am currently having problems with my sex drive, not feeling in the mood and lack of stamina. Do you have any suggestions?

A: At such a young age, you should be bouncing with energy. In Ayurveda, we ask questions to find out how the body is functioning.

These are only a few of the questions that are part of a full Ayurvedic evaluation.

If your answers are not positive, that means your body is not in balance. There may be blockages (srotorodha) in the body, which can interfere with your ability to get in the mood.

Ayurvedic panchakarma (detoxifying procedures) is important for rebooting the system and will be a great idea as it detoxifies the entire body, boosts the immune system, improves digestion and promotes sound sleep. With bountiful amounts of energy you will feel like you again.

If panchakarma is not an option at this point, try this minicleanse:

  • Take up to four tablespoons of castor oil on empty stomach in the morning on a weekend.

You will have few lose motions.

  • Then for a week following, do a fast with khichadi (soupy mung beans and rice cooked together). Eat khichadi for lunch and dinner and warm mild cooked cereal for breakfast. Avoid eating anything else.
  • Each night during the week, take one teaspoon of triphala with a pinch of pippali (Piper longum) at night with water. This will regularize your system. Then at the end of the week, repeat the castor oil one more time.

Herbs such as guduchi (Tribulus terrestris), punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), turmeric, amala (Embilica officinalis) and haritaki (Terminalia chebula) are called rasayana (rejuvenative) herbs. They improve the quality of tissues, thereby feeling revived.

Abhyanga (warm oil massage, with a therapist or via self-massage) and shirodhara (warm oil poured in a continuous stream over the forehead) are wonderful Ayurvedic oil therapies.

Regular exercise, pranayama (breathing practices), meditation and Yoga will definitely help restore your energy and bring you into balance.

I don’t think anything major is wrong. You just need a regular “oil check.”

Please note that these suggestions are dependent on the limited information I received in these questions. It is always important to have a thorough evaluation with a well-trained healthcare provider or Ayurvedic practitioner.

 

Positive Negative

1. How is your metabolism?

Great Not so good
2. Do you sleep soundly? Yes Interrupted
3. Do you have regular bowel movements? Yes May get constipated
4. What is your stress level? Cope well Stressful
5. Do you feel happy or very emotionally irregular? Happy Anxious, Nervous, Depressed

The information provided here is for educational purposes only. Before using any Ayurvedic remedies, consult with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare provider.

This article represents the opinion and recommendations of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of LA YOGA Ayurveda and Health magazine.

Dr. Jay Apte is an Ayurvedic doctor healing people through foods and lifestyle. She developed the foods and recipes for Ayurfoods and is the director of education for Kerala Ayurveda. Contact her at (650) 341 - 8400 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
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