Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Modern-day stresses can play havoc with many of our body’s internal systems – from our sleep pattern to our digestive fire. They can also impact our menstrual cycle too.
We’re more disconnected from nature than ever before and it’s no coincidence that we’re out of sync with our bodies. Things like irregular periods, problems with fertility, endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are common factors in many women’s lives nowadays. But is there another way?
Ayurveda, or ‘the science of life’, is a holistic healthcare system that works to bring us back into balance with our bodies and more in line with nature. Here, we talk to Dr Deepa Apte, a fully qualified medical doctor, yoga teacher and ayurvedic practitioner, who explains some of the rituals you can try to bring your body – and your cycle – back into balance.
Ayurvedic rituals to ease irregular periods
Before we dive in, it’s important to have an understanding of the ayurvedic perspective of the menstrual cycle. Our article here explains how to work with the energy of the doshas at different points in your cycle. Read this first before you begin any rituals.
Discover oil pulling
Oil pulling is a daily ritual used in ayurveda to help collect and draw toxins out from the body, primarily the stomach. It can help to ease imbalances in the body, including irregular period.
“The only times I wouldn’t recommend oil pulling is during your period, during pregnancy or when you’re breast feeding,” says Deepa. “Otherwise this can be done first thing in the morning.
“It can help to regulate periods, but it can also help with PMS symptoms too.”
How to do oil pulling
Take two tbsp of warm sesame seed oil in the mouth.
Imagine you’re using mouthwash and swish around the mouth for 30 seconds, then hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this action for two minutes.
After this time, spit the oil out. Make sure you clean your teeth and mouth well so that no oil remains.
Enjoy a warm oil massage
Irregular or light periods could be a sign that you’re living out of harmony with your body, or not giving your body the nourishment it needs. An oil bath can help to ease this.
“If the body is too dry, it’s not going to release blood properly,” says Deepa. “This can lead to irregular or light periods.
“Hot oil massages can help. Do this on the first day of your period or, alternatively, on the new or full moon to help bring your body in line with nature.”
How to do a warm oil massage
Apply warm sesame seed oil, starting at your head and massaging in a downwards motion all the way down your body.
Wait for five to 10 minutes with the oil on your skin.
Take a hot shower for five to 10 minutes. The heat of the oil and water will allow your body to absorb what it needs.
Try a simple fast
Fasting nowadays is often associated with low-calorie days and spending hours on end withdrawing from food. But, if done in line with ayurvedic principles, fasting can actually help to regulate periods.
“When we talk about fasting in ayurveda, it’s actually a very simple fast,” says Deepa. “We’d recommend having one main meal around lunchtime.
“Lunchtime is when the sun is at its highest, and likewise our digestive fire is at its strongest.”
For the rest of the day, you would enjoy warm liquids like herbal teas and water. Even doing this once a month, you may see a big difference during your menstrual cycle. Just ensure this is only practiced during the vata phase of your cycle (after ovulation, when the endometrial lining is breaking down).
Turmeric has a wealth of health benefits, with antiviral, anti-bacterial and even cancer-fighting properties. It’s also a really important remedy for regulating periods.
“Turmeric is one of the best friends of women’s health,” says Deepa. “It can help to regulate our hormones. It’s good for things like PCOS, endometriosis and irregular bleeding.”
Irrespective of the time of your cycle, there are a number of ways to incorporate turmeric into your life. From taking a capsule twice a day, to grating fresh turmeric on salads and in milk, regularly consuming turmeric can help bring balance to our cycle.
Turmeric remedy for PCOS
An effective ayurvedic strategy for PCOS is to make a paste from ½ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp cinnamon and honey to taste. Mix the ingredients together and take three times a day after breakfast, lunch and dinner to help with symptoms of PCOS.
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About Dr Deepa Apte
Dr Deepa Apte is a fully qualified Indian medical doctor (Bachelor of Medicine; Bachelor of Surgery, India), a qualified Yoga teacher (specialising in Hatha Yoga and the Sivananda tradition) and a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.