Ayurveda Approach to Menopause: Addressing Short-Term Symptoms


Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing large amounts of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones intimately involved with the menstrual cycle. Modern medicine tends to view this process as an ailment—an unhealthy state of deficiency. This is because certain diseases have been shown to be related to the lack of hormones in a woman’s body. For instance, osteoporosis, the loss of density in the bones, can occur more quickly. Also, blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides often start increasing, so that women become more prone to heart disease.

From an Ayurvedic point of view, the loss of estrogen merely sheds lights on underlying imbalances, which become noticeable when the added protection of estrogen is gone. If a woman’s physiology is balanced, Ayurveda suggests that she can have a comfortable menopause.

Ayurveda looks at two levels of symptoms of menopause—short term and long term. Today we’ll look at the short-term symptoms.

Short-term effects of menopause include hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings. To determine the cause of these symptoms, an Ayurvedic expert examines the balance of doshas in the body.

Menopause marks a major transition in a woman’s life as she moves from a time of life influenced by Pitta to one influenced by Vata. Thus Vata tendencies often increase at this time. Classic signs of Vata include thinner, drying skin and mucous membranes, thinning of the hair and bones, lighter sleep and an increased tendency to worry. Ayurveda suggests that these symptoms can be largely avoided by keeping Vata in balance through diet, herbs and daily routines.

Imbalanced Pitta also plays a part in menopausal symptoms. Because Pitta regulates hormonal balance, heat production and metabolism, it is this dosha that is primarily involved with hot flashes. During the years of menstruation, impurities in the body get eliminated each month with a woman’s menstrual flow. (Ayurveda recognizes the profound purification that occurs during menstruation and for this reason recommends light activity and diet during this time.) When this monthly cleansing stops, excess Pitta can begin build up.

The Ayurvedic solution is to balance Pitta through diet and herbal recommendations and to remove impurities through the classic Ayurveda purification and detoxification therapies, known as Panchakarma. Reserving one day a month for home cleansing can also be helpful during this transition time.

If you are approaching menopause or find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, a consultation with an Ayurveda expert can be extremely helpful in pinpointing what measures can best help restore a healthy balance. For more information visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:


Pesticides Linked to Autism and Male Infertility

Every year almost a billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed in fields and orchards across the US. Even with the the growing demand for organics, 85% of cropland relies on herbicides. While this rampant use of pesticides increases the heatlh risks for our entire population, the most far reaching effects are on our children. John F. Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” Clearly today’s farming practices are putting our future at risk.

Last month, two studies were released that looked into the effects of pesticide exposure. One found a drop of one-third in normally formed sperm in men with high levels of pesticide. The pesticides were specifically linked to the consumption of “conventional” (non-organic) fruits and vegetables. This is not the first study to suggest a link between pesticides and male infertility.

The second study linked a one-third higher rate of autism to children of mothers who had been exposed to pesticides while pregnant. In this case they looked primarily at spray drift from agricultural fields.


A senior researcher at MIT, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, declared at a conference last December, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” Dr. Seneff noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism.

These studies join a myriad of previous studies that link pesticides to a variety of acute and chronic health problems, including asthma attacks, respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and dizziness. Because these symptoms appear similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as “the flu,” they are often misdiagnosed. And because many pesticides are fat-soluble, they can remain in the body for years. Multiple scientific studies link pesticides to cancer, birth defects, nervous system disorders, and immune deficiency

Many researchers feel that kids today are sicker than they were a generation ago. A growing body of scientific evidence points to pesticides as a reason why. Researches point out that “Children are not ‘little adults’.” Children’s vulnerability to pesticide exposure is increased by their greater cell division rates and early stage of organ, nervous, reproductive, and immune system development. In addition, pesticide concentrations in their fatty tissues may be greater because their fat as a percentage of total body weight is lower.

What can be done to protect our children — and our children-to-be?


The first thing anyone who is a parent or is thinking of becoming a parent should do is to start buying organic food. Most grocery stores these days have an organic section. If you cannot afford to go completely organic, at least get to know the “Dirty Dozen”. These are fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues. By choosing organic versions of this food or by avoiding these foods completely, you can reduce your pesticide consumption by almost 80%.

The Dirty Dozen







Sweet bell peppers



Cherry tomatoes

Snap peas



It is a pretty well established fact that we have pesticides in our tap water. Pesticide residues leach into our water supply from farms, neighborhood homes and city parks. Filtering water is not the same as purifying it. Research your options for clean, pure water.


There is a reason why the market for organic clothes, furniture, paints, building materials and household cleansers has exploded. Conventional cotton farming takes up 3% of the world’s farmland and uses 10% of the world’s pesticides. Most non-organic fabrics (for clothing and furniture) undergo significant processing that involves petrochemical dyes, formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage, volatile organic compounds, dioxin-producing bleach and chemical fabric softeners. Again, do your research, especially if a baby or young child is in the house.


While the traditional detoxification and purification treatments of Ayurveda may not be the advised for children, anyone planning on conceiving should consider a 6-month purification plan that includes these pesticide-removing treatments. Panchakarma is the only proven approach to removing fat-soluble chemicals from the body. Research has shown that a 5-day course of treatment can remove 50% of toxins such as DDT, PCBs and dioxins from the body.

The Raj has offered an Ayurvedic Pre-Conception program for over 20 years. The program involves very specific diet and lifestyle recommendations, herbal formulations and Panchakarma treatments. For more information, contact The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:


Getting the Most Out of Your Vegetables

Last week I discussed the debate over eating vegetables raw or cooked. According to Ayurveda, this decision is best made with an understanding your body type, level of imbalance, and quality of digestion.

It also turns out that certain vegetables only offer their full nutritional value when they have been cooked. Whether or not you are a raw food enthusiast, it is good to know how to get the most out of your vegetables.

It is important to note that when I refer to cooking vegetables, I am usually referring to steaming for 4 or 5 minutes. Mushy, over-cooked vegetables are not going to provide many healthful nutrients. Boiling vegetables removes many important minerals and nutrients.

Cooking vegetables reduces the mass of the vegetable, concentrating more nutrients with less bulk. Bitter greens like spinach and kale are generally more edible when cooked, because cooking also eliminates the oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.

Cooking significantly improves the digestibility and bioavailability of starchy foods such as potatoes and yams, squashes. This is also true with grains, and legumes.


Green beans always need to be cooked until soft otherwise they are actually toxic. Raw beans are poisonous because they contain prussic acid, which is deactivated only by cooking.

Cooked carrots, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, peppers supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, to the body than they do when raw,

Mild heating, such as steaming, appears to improve the extractability of beta-carotene from vegetables, and also its bioavailability. Beta-carotene absorption can be as low as 1-2% from raw vegetables such as carrots.

Lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be responsible for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Studies have shown that the absorption of lycopene is greater from cooked tomatoes. However cooking tomatoes can destroy other vitamins, so it is good to include raw tomatoes in one’s diet as well as cooked tomatoes.

Steaming asparagus ignites its cancer-fighting potential.

If you have any questions about which form of vegetables is best for you, check with an Ayurveda expert in your area. Ayurveda pulse assessment will reveal what kinds and forms of vegetables will be most helpful in creating a healthy balance for your mind/body system. Ayurveda recognizes the unique differences of each individual. In order to correctly determine our optimal requirements it is important to understand our level of balance and imbalance. For information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center


Foods for Life

Along with increasing hours of sunlight and rising temperatures, spring brings an abundance of colors and options in the produce aisles. This is the area of the grocery store where indulgence is encouraged! A 2014 study found that eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables can extend life expectancy “a staggering 42%”. And, not surprisingly, the report found that fresh vegetables extend life more effectively than canned. The paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, concluded that the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the less likely we are to die at any age.


This brings us to the on-going question of raw vs. cooked vegetables. Ayurveda’s main text, the Charak Samhita, recommends primarily cooked foods because cooking increases the element of agni that is essential for the assimilation of nutrients and their transformation into the bodily tissues. The higher proportion of nutrients available in raw food is useless if the food can’t be digested, absorbed and assimilated. In order to choose the best option for your physiology, it is helpful to understand your state of doshic balance and imbalance, the strength of your digestion, and to take into account seasonal influences.

In general, those of with Pitta, or Pitta/Kapha body types who do not have a significant Vata imbalance can handle raw foods in their diet, especially in the late spring and summer seasons. This is because the element of “fire” or “agni” is very lively in their constitutions and they benefit from a cooling diet.

The overly cold, dry, light qualities of raw foods, however, may create problems for anyone with a severe Vata imbalance. They may find an increase in symptoms of abdominal gas, bloating, constipation, worry and anxiety, and dryness. Those wishing to balance or counter Vata imbalances do better with a diet that is warm, moist and easily digestible.

Those with Kapha imbalances may find that the cold nature of raw foods leads to allergies, sinus problems or asthma.

One solution for those who prefer raw foods but lack a strong Pitta component is to enjoy raw juices. Juicing or blending with “super blenders” that basically pulverize foods allows you to break down the cellulose the surrounds the outer layer of fruit and vegetable molecules, thus allowing you to derive optimum nutritional benefits.

If you are adding raw foods to your diet, here are some tips that can help you to maintain a healthy digestive fire:

Sip small quantities of warm water with your meals

Never include ice-cold foods or drinks with your meal. Allow refrigerated foods to come to room temperature before eating.

Try eating a slice of ginger, topped with a pinch of salt and lemon juice, about 15 minutes before your meal. This will increase the element of fire or agni and will help improve digestion and the assimilation of nutrients

Add a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice to whatever you are eating

Adding organic olive oil to salads will help counter the drying property of raw foods

Next week we’ll look at which vegetables offer more nutritional value when they have been cooked and which offer more nutritional value when eaten raw.