Women’s Disorders

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR

Women face unique health challenges. Their bodies are regulated by rhythmic monthly cycles. As a rule, their cycles flow with computerised regularity — naturally and effortlessly. However, certain subtle interactions of hormones, stress, environmental pollutants and diet can sometimes disturb the rhythm and cause imbalances.

This is where natural Ayurveda and homeopathic remedies, or medicines, including nutritional supplements, can help restore balance — safely and gently — more so, in the following ‘select’ conditions.

Premenstrual Syndrome [PMS]

This is a common disorder that affects 75 per cent of women. It can span several days preceding a menstrual period. Symptoms are both physiological and psychological. Most women lead more, or less, normal lives, in spite of the mind/body complaints of PMS. However, about 12 per cent of women complain of far too many annoying symptoms — this often includes tender, or swollen breasts and abdomen, fluid retention, and period-type pains.

PMS is sometimes triggered by hormonal, or nutritional imbalance, stress, overwork, allergy, as also depression, the common cold of psychiatric illness.

Ayurveda and homeopathy have a plethora of remedies for women’s ailments. They take into consideration not just the disorder in question, but also the characteristic presentation of the problem in each woman — because no two women present with the same unique symptoms of the illness, except its name.

The selection of an appropriate line of treatment is best done in an office consultation, with a professional Ayurveda, or homeopathic, physician.

Painful Periods [Dysmenorrhoea]

Some form of discomfort is common during the first few days of a menstrual cycle. This includes a dull pain in the lower back, including abdominal cramps. Menstrual pain may sometimes be heightened by stress. The condition often improves following childbirth and/or after age 30.

One would do well to look into the cause of a sudden menstrual pain following years of pain-free periods. The usual cause may be pelvic infection, endometriosis [formation of cysts in the pelvic cavity], or fibroids. Other triggers may include intrauterine contraceptive device [IUCD], or discontinuing the use of the contraceptive pill.

Absent Periods [Amenorrhoea]

This may be permanent, or temporary. If periods don’t begin by age 16 [primary amenorrhea], the cause may be delayed puberty. When menstruation is established, and periods stop abruptly [secondary amenorrhea], it could be due to anorexia [loss of appetite], or weight loss, or excess exercise with reduced nutritional/dietary intake to lose weight. This is a common fad with some women on the move today.

Amenorrhoea may also be the outcome of prolonged stress, long-distance air travel, shock, stopping contraceptive pill, or hormonal imbalance.

While amenorrhoea may rarely occur due to displacement of the uterus, periods may sometimes be delayed following childbirth.

If periods are missing for 8-10 months, consult a professional Ayurveda, or homeopathic, physician.

Heavy Periods [Menorrhagia]

One could call this as plentiful bleeding, or flooding. This form of bleeding not only soaks sanitary protection; it may also include large clots of blood. The ‘flooding’ may sometimes last for seven days, or more.

Causes may be pelvic infection, hormonal imbalance, fibroids, endometriosis, stress, overwork, or anticipatory menopause. Intrauterine contraceptive devices [IUCD] are sometimes to blame for excess menstrual blood flow.

Menopause

This relates to stoppage of menses. It occurs in most women between the ages of 45 and 55.

Menopause is a part of the physiological [functional] process. It is not an illness, or disease. Some women are able to cope with the emotional issues of this change of life easily, while some don’t.

Symptoms include hot flushes, vaginal dryness, aches and pains, dizziness, loss of appetite, lethargy, chilliness and palpitations.

Emotional symptoms include weepy spells, bad temper, anxiety, nervousness, depression and sleeplessness.

Menopausal symptoms may be heightened by stress. The conventional practice is to compensate the reduction in hormonal production through hormone replacement therapy [HRT].

Ayurveda and homeopathy aim to treat menopausal complaints, not just in terms of hormones, but by way of a gentle, holistic approach to correcting the body’s imbalances, from the inside-out.

A Growing Concern

Women’s disorders are soaring at an alarming rate today — they range from simple menstrual disturbances and infertility to malignancies.

A frequently encountered complaint now on the rise is polycystic ovarian syndrome [PCOS].

Many women, who have PCOS have limited success in treating the problem through conventional medication. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility; it is also the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. It affects about 5 per cent of all women.

The ‘root cause’ of PCOS lies in hormonal disturbance. Homeopathy and Ayurveda correct the hormonal disturbance and bring about harmony, without the risk of side-effects. They also help to avoid the use of surgical procedures, while bringing about regularisation of the menstrual cycles and increasing the chances of conception.

Coping with PCOS is complicated; it is also a painful challenge. From the several embarrassing symptoms to difficulty in conceiving, women with PCOS often feel that they are all alone.

Hormonal changes are the hallmark of this disorder; almost every body system can be affected. Some women may have irregular ovulation, or menstruation, increased hair growth in odd places, or excessive effects of masculinising hormones and weight problems.

Treatment

Ayurveda

Stree Roga relates to the female reproductive system. Common gynaecological disorders are uterine fibroids, PCOD[S], uterine bleeding, amenorrhoea, oligomenorrhoea, pelvic inflammatory diseases, infertility, etc. Malnutrition, injury, hormonal disturbance, anxiety, awful sexual conduct and sedentary lifestyle, etc., are nidana of gynaecological disorders. Disturbed menstruation, back pain, depression, fatigue, infertility and acne, etc., are common symptoms of such pathological conditions. Langhans, rasayana, samsodhana, ahara, achara, virechana and uttaravasti, etc., are useful Ayurveda modalities that help in Stree Roga. Lekhana, vata-kapha shamaka, shothghna, rakta-shodhaka and kledaghna properties of many Ayurveda drugs impart beneficial effects in stree roga. These drugs are haritak, amlaki, pippali, chitrak, gokharu, haridra and guggulu, etc.

  • Dr Pallavi Panhale Lamture, “Ayurveda and Modern Perspectives on Gynaecological Disorders and their Management: A Review,” World Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research, 2021,7[5], 343-345.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy considers each individual as being different from another. What causes a problem in one does not cause it in another.

Homeopathy assesses each individual and treats them individually, based on their unique, characteristic symptoms.

Clinical Studies

Homeopathy has a long history of successfully treating women’s health problems. A number of studies have shown that women make up between 64 and 80 per cent of patients visiting homeopathic clinics.

A group of women suffering from PMS were enrolled into a randomised, controlled, double-blind trial to receive one of five symptomatically selected homeopathic remedies, or placebo. Using daily menstrual distress scores before and at the end of the trial, improvement greater than 30 per cent was experienced by 90 per cent of patients using the homeopathic remedy and 37.5 per cent using the placebo [dummy pill].

In a clinical trial of 36 women suffering from PCOS, fitting the mental picture of the homeopathic remedy, Pulsatilla nigricans 30C, 32 had complete disappearance of symptoms of PCOS, followed by the production of normal ovulating follicles. A further four of the 36 became asymptomatic [Source: Sanchez-Resendiz J, Guzman-Gomez F, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Boletin, Mexicano de Homeopatica, 30, 1997, 11-15].

Note: The homeopathic remedy, Calcarea flouricum, is evidenced to dissolve cysts, while Apis mellifica is often useful as a ‘general’ remedy in PCOS.

Nutrition

When considering women’s ability to age healthfully, it must be more than just the narrow focus on reproduction and hormonal wellness. Physiological parameters associated with age-related decrements specific to women are part of the broader spectrum of opportunities and benefits to address gender-driven structural/functional distinctions and the role of nutrition.

There is a fundamental role for baseline recommendations for daily levels of vitamins and minerals, but also documented advantages ascribed to the intake of nutrients beyond simple adequacy, and attention to and education about should be part of the landscape to ensure consumption as part of a diet plentiful in these components. Diets need to be rich in proven constituents to achieve true ‘healthy aging’ by supporting, for example, bone health, lactation, hormonal fluctuations and menopause.

Women, though with statistically significant longer lifespans, at least in the developing countries, must be recognised for their unique differential probability of some chronic diseases, such as their greater risk for bone and muscle loss. Nutrition focused on different cultural, socio-economic, and life-course communities, as well as applicable at all stages of growth and development must not be a one-size-fits-all approach. To be relevant to the individual, there needs to be a degree of ‘precision’ applied such that a generic singular nutritional template does not result in unwanted and unhealthy overages with potential concomitant health decrements often of more immediate concern than the under-nutrition scenario that prompted the original recommendation.

There must be access to nutritional foods, and the information to grasp and put into practice proven nutritional opportunities. Nutrition science is moving towards understanding optimal nutrition in the broader context of dietary patterns, and nutrient intake must consider the complexity of interactions involving not only adequate nutrition but also the interplay with social, behavioural, environmental, community dynamics, and many other lifestyle factors. Optimal is greater than the sum of the merely sufficient.

  • Edith J M Feskens, et al, “Women’s Health: Optimal Nutrition Throughout the Lifecycle,” European Journal of Nutrition, Vol 61, 1–23 [2022]. 

Self-Help

  • Women who have heavy menstrual bleeding can sometimes become anaemic. Eating iron-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, can help prevent anaemia
  • Applying a heating pad to the abdominal area, or soaking in a hot bath, can help relieve the pain of menstrual cramps
  • Change tampons every 4-6 hours. Avoid scented pads and tampons; feminine deodorants can also irritate the genital area. Women should not douche during, or between, periods. Women who douche on a weekly basis are more likely to contract cervical cancer than those who don’t
  • Bathing regularly is sufficient
  • Speak to and consult your Ayurveda, or homeopathic, physician and follow-up on a regular basis.
Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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