Maharishi Ayurveda Treats According to Your Mind/Body Type
By Sally Peden, Ph.D.
Recently, the NIH announced the abrupt halt of the eight-year long Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study on hormone replacement therapy because of compelling evidence that hormone therapy raised the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer. The study’s shutdown came as a shock to the six million American women using some kind of hormone replacement therapy for symptoms of menopause. Numerous alternatives have attracted attention in the wake of this news, mainly isolated herbs or supplements that mirror the “magic bullet” approach of HRT. Initial research indicates that such approaches may offer some immediate relief. But can any one tablet or fragmentary approach bestow the complete health promised by HRT? For millions of women seeking a smooth menopause transition and “golden years” to follow, good health will likely be found through a more complete and holistic approach.
The Estrogen Myth
Nancy K. Lonsdorf, M.D., former consultant to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Ayurveda, and author of A Woman’s Best Medicine for Menopause; Your Personal Guide to Radiant Good Health Using Maharishi Ayurveda (McGraw-Hill) believes that Maharishi Ayurveda, the modern restoration of the natural medicine system of ancient India, offers an effective, truly natural approach to menopausal health. I spoke with Dr. Lonsdorf, Medical Director of The Raj, an award-winning Maharishi Ayurveda health spa and clinic in Vedic City, Iowa about the Ayurvedic approach to menopause. “The root cause of menopausal symptoms is not lack of estrogen,” Dr. Lonsdorf emphasizes. “Research indicates that many women do not experience symptoms even though experiencing estrogen loss. Rather, symptoms are due to specific types of mind/body imbalances that occur in women largely as a result of their lifestyles.
If Not Estrogen,
“The problem lies in stress, improper diet, lack of sleep and other factors that weaken the body’s ability to adjust to the natural hormonal changes occurring at menopause,” states Dr. Lonsdorf. “Addressing these underlying factors helps resolve menopause symptoms while at the same time making the body healthier. “Exercise and a phytoestrogen-rich, wholesome diet are key to both reducing menopause symptoms and lowering the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, diseases once blamed on declining estrogen and now known to be caused largely by unhealthy diet and lifestyle.”
Ayurveda Cites Three Types of Menopause Symptoms Every woman is different, according to Dr. Lonsdorf. While eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise are good for everyone, a woman can more effectively “fine-tune” her health and resolve her specific symptoms if she understands her health more profoundly, the “Ayurvedic way.” According to Maharishi Ayur-veda, symptoms tend to occur in one of three different bodily functions: V-Type (vata or air; related to activity of nerves and circulation), P-Type (pitta or fire; related to heat production), or K-Type (kapha or earth; related to bodily structure and weight).
Natural Ayurvedic Treatments Are Based on Three Menopause Types
Her nervous system is sensitive and overly responsive to stress and the environment. Her symptoms often include anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations, mood swings, dryness, feeling cold, variable hot flashes, irregular periods, constipation, and bloating. Treatment includes stabilizing factors such as a regular routine, regular mealtimes, warm foods and drinks, and an early bedtime with plenty of sleep.
She is the classic, ambitious Type A. She tends to be hot even when she is not having hot flashes. She is prone to night sweats, anger and irritability, urinary tract infections, heavy periods, skin rashes and acne. Avoiding hot spicy foods, hot drinks, alcohol, hot sun, anger and overheating during exercise help to chill out the P-Type’s symptoms.
Women who are “constitutional heavies” often gain excess weight “for no reason” during menopause. They feel sluggish, unmotivated, retain fluids and have slow digestion. Treatment focuses on stimulating digestion and metabolism and clearing the body of accumulated waste. Exercise, getting up early, drinking plain hot water, eating more spices, vegetables and legumes and avoiding meat, cheese, salt and sugar are key to alleviating symptoms.
“If a home program of herbs, diet and lifestyle changes does not produce good results within 1-2 months,” Dr. Lonsdorf relates, “it means that deep deposits of ama or accumulated wastes and toxins are slowing the healing process. In such cases, medically-supervised panchakarma, a series of herbalized oil treatments, massages and cleansing therapies, are recommended and are the most effective approach I have found for clearing blockages and quickly resolving menopausal health problems. Published research has verified that these treatments remove pesticides, PCB’s, oxidized fats and other toxins from the body.”
“Menopause is not a disease,” Lonsdorf says. It doesn’t have to be treated with medicine, and it doesn’t have to be a harbinger of accelerated decline that requires hormone replacement therapy. Menopause is a natural transition that, with proper care and knowledge, can transform our health in a positive direction.”
Sally Peden, Ph.D. is a free-lance writer in Fairfield, Iowa. For more information on Maharishi Ayurveda and menopause, see www.drlonsdorf.com .
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