PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disease, and today, it is said to affect about 1 in every ten women. PCOD is a condition where the ovaries of the affected female produce a high volume of androgens, i.e., male hormones.
The main male hormone in question here is testosterone, and excess levels of this lead to low levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and high levels of luteinizing hormone. This, in turn, leads to irregular menstruation and anovulatory cycles.
What Causes PCOD?
While PCOD is generally associated with abnormal hormonal levels, medical science is yet to find an exact cause of PCOD. A few usual causes of PCOD include the following.
- Insulin resistance
- High quantity of androgens
- Imbalance of hormones
- High levels of inflammation
What are the Symptoms of PCOD?
A lot of women are believed to have PCOD and are unaware of it. This is because many times, these different symptoms are assumed to be independent of each other and not a cumulative part of a bigger problem. A few of these symptoms include the following.
- Irregular menstrual cycles (Less than nine menstrual cycles per year)
- Thick neck or pigmentation of the skin on the neck
- Heavy flow or scanty bleeding during periods
- Depressive or irritable mood
- Excessive growth of facial hair
- Thinning of hair on the scalp
- Acne on the back and face
- The gain in weight or difficulty in losing weight
Can PCOD Influence the Development of Secondary Disorders?
Yes, PCOD is a rather serious issue that can lead the body to develop secondary disorders. A few of these possible disorders are:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid disorders
- High blood cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance
How Ayurveda Describes PCOD
According to Ayurveda, PCOD is not the cause of a single anomaly in the body that can be pointed out, but rather a combination of a host of issues that develop over time inside the body. Space or Akash Mahabhuta is represented in the female body as the hollow space in the reproductive cavity.
In the ovarian cycle, the Vata dosha is responsible for follicular movement, the rupturing of ovarian walls to release a mature ovum, and the movement of the finger-like projections (aka fimbriae) direct the mature ovum into the uterus through the fallopian tubes. On the other hand, Kapha provides nourishment to the uterus, helping in follicular growth and developing a fertilized egg in the fetus.
Usually, there is an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha to blame when there is a disruption in healthy ovulation.
What we call hormones are described in Ayurveda as the "fire" element within our body. Therefore, Pitta imbalance can be blamed for hormonal issues. An imbalanced Kapha has 'cold and sticky' qualities, which affects the digestive fire in the body, also known as Agni. This reduced digestive fire causes the body to produce Ama.
Ama production causes various improper enzymatic reactions and leads to a hormonal imbalance in the body, which causes hyperandrogenism. This ultimately impacts the metabolic rates of the tissues, also known as Dhatus. The Dhatus affected in PCOD is Rasa Dhatu, including lymph and plasma, Medha Dhatu, which makes up your Adipose tissue, and Artava Dhatu, which refers to the female reproductive system.
Hence, the Ayurvedic treatment of PCOD is centered around balancing the doshas in PCOD patients.
PCOD Treatment on Ayurvedic Principles
PCOD is a serious condition to be in, but nothing can be treated or prevented with Ayurveda. Ayurveda recommends treating PCOD with a combination of Kriyas, Oushadha, Aahara, and Vihara.
According to Ayurveda, a balanced diet should be the best way forward for people suffering from PCOD. This refers to the diet element of treating a condition. An imbalanced diet often comes in nourishing the fertilized egg and the subsequent implantation of the zygote. Ayurveda recommends thiktha rasa pradhana and suggests that you eat light food.
This refers to the various yoga techniques that can be of incredible help when battling with PCOD. Several yoga techniques have proven useful for PCOD patients to maintain optimal blood sugar levels, reduce anxiety, and lose weight. These yoga techniques are Kapalbhati, Anulomaviloma, et cetera.
This refers to various Ayurvedic herbs like Guduchi, Haridra, Amla, Karela, Guggulu, Methi, Aswagandha, Sathavari, Kanchanara, Naricha, Cinnamon, and Turmeric. These herbs are useful for PCOD treatment as they have a hormone balancing, insulin enhancing, obstruction clearing, and Kapha reducing effect.
This refers to a host of Shodhana therapies. Many of these therapies like Basthi and Virechana can be performed to treat PCOD, e.g., Shathavaryadi, Guduchyadi Rasayana Vasti, and Anuvasana Vasti.
Ayurvedic Herbs for Treating PCOD
There are a lot of ayurvedic herbs that are effective for treating PCOD. Some of these ayurvedic herbs are easily accessible to us, such as:
Tumeric's active ingredient is curcumin, which is where it gets its signature yellow color. Curcumin has shown promising results to decrease insulin resistance and as an anti-inflammatory agent in several PCOD related studies.
Also known as Winter Cherry and Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha is a powerful herb proven to balance cortisol levels, which helps reduce stress and PCOD symptoms.
Harvested from Cinnamon tree's bark, Cinnamon is more than just a taste-enhancing spice. Cinnamon is known to positively impact insulin resistance parameters in PCOD patients and regulate menstrual cycles for them.
Ayurvedic Therapies for Treating PCOD
Ayurveda has a lot of therapeutic methods that are aimed at helping reduce PCOD symptoms, including numerous yoga asanas that have shown benefits in women suffering from PCOD. A few of them include the following.
- Chakki Chalasana (Mill Churning Pose)
- Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja's Twist)
- Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Butterfly Pose)
- The Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Many more asanas are prescribed to tone up the entire reproductive system, including Ushtrasana, Dhanurasana, Badhakonasana, Uttanpadasana, Vajrasana, and Vrikshasana. These are ideal for women to develop a healthy menstrual cycle.
Additionally, there are a lot of pranayamas that can help release stress and anxiety induced by PCOD. These include a plethora of breathing exercises and meditation.
Diet Recommended by Ayurveda for PCOD Patients
Ayurveda prescribes a strategic diet plan helping women cope with issues like PCOD for a long time. Modern medicine has also come to accept this as the optimal diet plan for PCOD patients. The following are a few tips included in the diet recommended by Ayurveda.
- Avoid sugary foods
- Avoid refined sugar
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
- Cut back on salt
- Cut back on saturated fats, including deep-fried food and red meat
- Eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
Ayurveda also has a few lifestyle recommendations for patients with PCOD, which include the following.
- 45 minutes of daily exercising with moderate intensity
- Staying well hydrated by drinking at least 2-2.5 liters of water every day
- Practicing pranayama, i.e., alternate nasal breathing
- Managing stress and anxiety, which will help in balancing your hormones
Ayurvedic Methods to Treat subfertility due to PCOD
When you are trying to get pregnant but are experiencing a delay in conceiving, you might be facing subfertility. Subfertility can also be a symptom of PCOD. A lot of clinical research has been conducted to study the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments for subfertility, and the results have been positive!
One of the Ayurvedic treatments for PCOD includes therapeutic vomiting, known as Vamana Karma, followed by administering Yoga Ikshwaaku seed powder and Shatapushpadi Ghanavati. Research has shown that this process is linked to an increase in the probability of conception in PCOD patients.
Many Ayurvedic centers also offer a 6-month treatment plan for the proper treatment of subfertility caused by PCOD. This treatment plan usually includes the purification and detoxification procedures (aka Shodhana) and palliative care to relieve the symptoms and reduce discomfort (aka Shamana).
The guide, as mentioned above, PCOD can help you prevent and cure the condition effectively. While Ayurveda is incredibly effective against PCOD and its symptoms, you must note that long-lasting results take their time to appear. Since Ayurveda aims to treat the root cause of the problem, its positive impacts are long-lasting and deep-seated.
Authored By: Bhavishya Pahwa
About the Author : Bhavishya Pahwa is a budding writer who has always confided in a pen. He believes that art is a cure-all and that introspection followed by writing can add to the sanity of the world.