PCOS, Female Reproductive Health, and Ayurveda

by Patricia Wickman

It is a joy for practitioners like myself to see people make the leap of faith to add and subtract elements to and from their daily schedule based on ancient wisdom that seems vastly different from Western medicine. Ayurveda literally means the science of life. It is a complete medical system that has evolved over 5,000 years and has its roots in Ancient India. The devoted student of Ayurveda learns that it is a profound art and science that inspires one to view health, vitality, and longevity as a proactive and creative work in progress, similar to a garden. In this article, I will give a shallow introduction to the Ayurvedic perspective on PCOS and then write briefly on the broader subject of female reproductive health. In doing this, I wish to inspire all women who read this article to experiment with Ayurveda. Just as nurturing a plant yields delicious food, so too, does self-TLC produce a woman whose health, beauty, and vitality originate from deep within her cells and radiate out like petals of a sunflower.

Ayurvedic treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is specific to the individual. The Ayurvedic practitioner does a thorough assessment of the client and determines her Ayurvedic constitution based on the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Through questioning, observation, tongue observation, and pulse diagnosis, the practitioner and the client jointly determine the nature and degree of imbalance. In the majority of women with PCOS, there is a strong Kapha component: they often struggle with mysterious weight gain that is hard to lose even while maintaining a light diet, healthy lifestyle, and regular exercise. Some women with PCOS appear to be of a Kapha nature: large bone structure, plentiful tissues, calm disposition, etc. Upon questioning, observation, and pulse taking I have found that some are Pitta-Vata (or Vata-Pitta), but are simply carrying extra weight. A few of the women I have seen with PCOS have said that their large bodies do not feel native to them—they feel as if they are going around in a suit that does not belong to them. Other women with PCOS are not overweight, but simply have irregular menstrual cycles. One of the phenomena of this disorder is that the eggs in the ovaries prepare to leave the ovaries, but the necessary hormones that cause the final leap out of the ovaries are lacking. The egg in this instance is like a seed that is ready to burst out of the ground, but then does not succeed because the sprouting conditions are not available. Reference this website to learn more about PCOS from an Ayurvedic perspective.

After the initial consultation, the Ayurvedic practitioner designs a program for you that includes dietary recommendations, lifestyle modification, herbal supplementation, yoga, breathing, meditation, cleansing procedures, and hands-on body therapies. There is no one-size-fits-all in Ayurveda. It is best to see a practitioner who will recommend a program that takes into account your constitution, your current state of health, your schedule, your family situation, and causative factors that are individual to you. For example, one woman may have a high level of ama (toxicity) that is causing imbalance in the female reproductive system. For another woman it may be that her digestion, metabolism, absorption, or elimination is impaired. For another, it could be high levels of stress, lack of sleep, an unhealthy relationship, a poor diet, or a genetic predisposition. Ayurvedic treatment protocols help people pluck out imbalance at its root and create a fertile field with life-promoting conditions.

For female reproductive health in general, Ayurveda calls for a woman to remember her place in nature and her female ancestral heritage that was passed down to her from her mother’s womb. In ancient cultures, womens’ menstrual cycles were linked to the 28-day moon period.  Women menstruated together on the new moon and retreated from the village in tents where they could take a break from nurturing others and spend time resting and relaxing. The modern woman is so busy that she does not take time to stop during her period. The manic pace at which we live our lives contributes to women’s woes such as PMS, PCOS, acne, heavy bleeding, spotting in between periods, endometriosis, fibroids, unsavory menopausal symptoms, infertility, etc. During my training in Ayurveda, one of my classmates shared an experience of being on a surgery rotation during medical school. She started her period in the middle of a surgical procedure and was so compelled to keep up with the other doctors that she bled all over the floor during the surgery.

What are we women of the post-feminist world to do? We are bright, successful, educated, and capable of both professional and domestic excellence, yet our ancient bodies seem to be calling us back to the moon hut. What good is accomplishment if we destroy our health, shorten our lives, and lose our happiness in the process? I propose that we take small steps toward listening to the call of nature and revolt against the market driven, competitive, frantic culture in which we live. In Maya Tawari’s book, The Path of Practice, she explains that connecting with shakti energy is fundamental to women’s physical and spiritual health:

According to Vedic seers, a woman’s femininity cannot exist apart from her shakti—the one energy that gave birth to everything. Shakti is the Mother’s power behind creation, and signifies the sacred mysteries of creation, regeneration, and destruction…The Divine Mother endowed all females with two gifts: the power to nurture and the power to protect. Shakti is more than the energy of reproduction. It is the spirit of protecting the sacred, gathering food, worshiping the Divine and giving birth to children, to inspiration, to ideas and art (Tiwari 54 55).

There are an infinite number of ways to honor shakti. Lie low during your two or three days of heavy bleeding, perform daily warm oil self-massage, oil your hair, receive shirodhara (an Ayurvedic body therapy where warm oil is poured in a continuous stream over the third eye), keep a moon calendar by your bedside and perform the moon salutation on the full moon, practice the goddess pose (supta baddha konasana), do the yoni mudra, drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice everyday (aloe vera is fantastic for balancing women’s hormones), take moments to squat. Squatting connects a woman to the earth. Have an Ayurvedic practitioner guide you through a women’s cleansing program. Become a master of pelvic floor exercises, paint your toenails, get a henna tattoo, pick up a silk scarf, turn on some sultry music and let your hips and pelvis dance, prepare a lovely meal of farm-fresh food for you and your family, rock a baby to sleep, spend time in nature, cultivate deep and lasting friendships with other women, repair any hurt in your relationship with your mother and/or mother-in-law. Create something. Teach all of this to your daughters. As you nurture shakti, may your reproductive balance be well established, your eyes sparkle, your skin shine, and your garden of health be plentiful and fruitful!

Patricia Wickman is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Panchakarma Technician and Registered Yoga teacher. Her services include private and small–group yoga lessons, Ayurvedic consultations and Ayurvedic Spa therapies.

Battling PCOS Naturally: Mother Quest

Evidence that Ayurveda offers hope to individuals who have female reproductive imbalance
by Arwen Rasmussen

After six years of newlywed bliss, an apartment, two cats, and a home loan, my husband and I decided it was finally time to expand the family. We weren’t getting any younger and our friends all had kids, so we thought we would join the race and see what it was like. So like all clock-ticking 28 year olds, I was excited and anxious to get pregnant. I wanted to experience the joy that I had heard about from friends for so long. Well, after six long months of negative tests, we decided to be more regimented. So we started charting days, taking my temperature, trying more frequently, and finally visiting with my OB-GYN. I thought my history was pretty normal. I had been on birth control of some sort since I was 17 when my parents thought it was better to be protected than not. I had no real reason to track my ovulation patterns. Besides, what healthy college kid keeps track of those things?

So when my OB came back with lab tests and explained that I had PCOS, I was a bit shocked. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition in which your hormones aren’t being put out in equal proportions, making your ovulation cycle too long or too short and the likelihood of getting pregnant very slim. Women with PCOS may have acne, enlarged ovaries with small cysts, lack of ovulation and/or irregular menstrual periods, decreased breast size, hirsutism (male pattern hair growth), infertility, insulin resistance, male-pattern hair loss and fat deposition, weight gain, or central obesity.

“Weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, acne,
excessive hair growth, and loss of hair are signs of PCOS.”

I don’t have many of those common signs that indicate to a doctor that I may have that condition, but I still had it. We were left with the understanding that we could continue to try to get pregnant on our own, but we would probably end up frustrated. So we started infertility treatments. Long story short, after the third treatment in three months, we were successful, and 9 months later, our baby boy was here.

Flash forward two years, and it is time for baby number two. Since we knew about the big glitch in my chemistry we decided to go another, natural route this time. I started by seeing a local Ayurvedic practitioner who took my history and documented everything about me, from how my tongue looks to how much I sleep at night, and all the information in between. She directed my diet to help combat the PCOS condition in my dominant kapha dosha, and gave me some recommendations on what herbs and teas to drink to promote ovulation and cleanse my body.

By the 5th month of my regularly drinking specialty tea and taking ghee and castor oil, my menstrual cycles started to become more and more regular. I went from having a 44-day cycle to a consistent 30-31 day cycle. So we decided to try again and it worked! We only had two months under our belt when the pink line appeared. And I was overjoyed. We did it au naturale, the way nature intended. I was so dreading the negative test after negative test, I almost didn’t want to test myself at all, ever again. But, thanks to routine, ancient medicine, and some hope, we didn’t have to try for long.

So, I am happy and excited to announce that the end of this June we will be welcoming a baby girl into our family. Fertility and hormones are complicated, but I am confident that the Ayurvedic steps I took played a role in my becoming pregnant without drugs, injections, or stress.

Alternative Chiropractics

by Dr. Allan Lindlsey

Wondering how there can be such a thing as alternative chiropractic? As mainstream health care, alternative medicine, and general understanding of the eastern hemisphere all develop, so do the approaches and practices of medical professionals on our half of the globe.

A growing population of chiropractors practicing Applied Kinesiology is just one example. Applied Kinesiology is best understood as a chiropractic approach to the study of motion. It focuses on helping a person’s body heal itself, not on the treatment or the symptom.

A practitioner in this ideology focuses on finding the root of the problem, recognizing that sometimes a subluxation in the spine is the answer. But that it’s also possible this is just a symptom of a deeper issue. This is why evaluation doesn’t consist only of a scan, x-ray, or spinal exam.

Evaluation includes three parts: structural, organs, and chemicals. Structural analysis entails looking at the functioning of the bones, muscles, and ligaments throughout the body. If the problem is not resolved with chiropractic adjustments, it is a signal that the issue is not structural.

The organs are the next point of concern. The doctor determines where distress is, analyzing the organ reflex points. Bear in mind the organs are connected to each part of the body in much the same way the spine/nerves are.

After determining trouble spots and treating accordingly, if the patient is still suffering from the same symptoms, the chemical balance in the person’s body becomes the focus. Here, again, organ reflex points are evaluated. This is where a background in chemistry comes in – what chemicals, toxins, or other factors are inhibiting the proper functioning of the body?

Essentially, if there is a repeated pattern where the chiropractic adjustment is not holding, I would begin looking at the organs and rebuild in an effort to stabilize the muscle and thus the structure of the body. If the pattern continues, nutrient repair in the body to stabilize its chemistry will be key in helping repair structure.

A ‘traditional’ chiropractor moves bones to free up the nerves – there’s an evaluation and a treatment. Applied Kinesiology goes further, involving muscle testing, evaluation of the integrity of the musco-skeletal system, working to get the receptors and tissues of the body working and functioning properly, and helping each bone, muscle, and ligament function properly. The tone, contraction, and integrity of the muscles and ligaments play a key role in how well the body holds adjustments.

The whole body’s functioning depends on many factors that may be external or internal, though the two are always interconnected.

Applied Kinesiology in a nutshell

Licensed naturopathic doctor and an American College of Nutrition-certified specialist Cathy Wong, ND, CNS, explains Applied Kinesiology in a nutshell: Applied Kinesiology is an alternative medicine diagnostic tool and treatment developed by chiropractor George Goodheart, Jr. forty years ago. It is a strength resistance test based on the link between muscles, glands, and organs. Muscle strength is tested and the strength of the muscle is believed to be related to the health of the organ or area of the body being tested. It is based on the philosophies of other holistic therapies, including osteopathy, chiropractic, meridian therapy, and physical manipulation.

Local Applied Kinesiology Chiropractors

Lindsley Chiropractic and Wellness
2004 Highland Avenue, # O, Eau Claire – 715.832.8414

Sommerfeld’s Chiropractic Health Care
6 W Saint Patrick St, Rice Lake, WI – 715.234.4222

Understanding and Conquering Clutter

by Diana DiCristina, Wind Water Harmony

Two of the fundamental principles of feng shui:
~ Everything is energy,
~ Your space reflects your life.

What does your space say about you and your life?

In your mind’s eye, enter your home through your architectural-intended front door. What do you see as if seeing your space for the first time? Go through each room, especially the bedroom and don’t forget the garage. Look under the beds, in the drawers, closets, storage areas and cupboards. Take notice of all that you see. How you feel is a reflection of the energy in your space.

When you have cleared the clutter, you will experience a calm and centered feeling, improved relationships, more money, clarity, more time and space, enhanced creativity, and living your life in harmony with the Universe.

Clutter is anything that keeps you from doing what you want to do. There are four categories of clutter: things you no longer use or love, things not organized or tidy, too many things in a small space, and anything unfinished.

Examples of clutter are mail, laundry, coats and shoes at the entry, hobbies, newspapers and magazines, recycling, collections, gifts, photos, unfinished remodeling projects, e-mail, junk drawers, clothes closet, hard drive on your computer, things on shelves, things under the sink, things in bathroom cabinets, plants, dishes, craft items, etc. You get the idea.

Why is clutter a problem? “What do I do with all my things?” you ask. Let me help you better understand clutter. No judgment allowed. If you have judgment about clutter, it will be much harder sorting through and realizing its hold on you. If your clutter controls you, you do not have freedom to make clear choices. People “shut down” where there is clutter. It totally slows you down and wastes time.

Do you think of your stuff as things you love or are they a “ball and chain”? Ask yourself, Do I love it?” If you don’t love it, someone else will. If you have something that is annoying you, be the river rather than the dam. Move it on. Someone else will be thrilled with the treasure. It is okay to have empty space. Have only the things that you love!

Identify your clutter. Ask, “Does this thing lift my energy and make me feel good? Do I love it? Does it inspire me? Is it special or just nice?” Maybe you really do love it but it brings back sad memories. Is it useful or helpful? Do I use it? Will I need to use it again?

Examine the blockages of letting go of clutter. There are only two factors we are dealing with: love and fear. Approach your clutter with love in your heart. Don’t be afraid. Believe in yourself as you sort through your things. It is safe to let go. Trust. If you find yourself keeping something “just in case,” be aware that you are keeping that thing out of fear. Letting go of your clutter is not only about looking at your stuff but also allowing yourself to look into your heart releasing the fear and trusting that the Universe will provide what you need when you need it.

There can be emotional attachments to clutter. Sentimental clutter is about who gave us the thing, not the thing. When someone dies and you have his or her belongings, go through the process of grieving before you deal with their personal affects. Things have no eternal value. You know how much you loved someone. You don’t need a thing to have that love. Cherish the memories not the thing.

When dealing with clutter, remember you do not need to have excess. You do not have to fear being with nothing. Strive to find balance. Balance in your space provides balance in your life, creating harmony.

Tune in to how something makes you feel when you see it or think about it. If it makes you feel good, find the perfect place for it. If it makes you feel bad, it’s clutter. Regardless of how much you spent on something, if it does not make you feel good, let it go.

To support your energetic intentions, wear something orange. It takes a great deal of will power to clear your clutter. Start small, perhaps with a shelf or a drawer. Remember that you must finish what you start. Otherwise, the clutter will become worse. Experience the change. Cut the energetic ties to the clutter. With a loving heart, thank the objects as you let them go.

Letting go of your clutter and conquering it is not about getting rid of “stuff” as much as it is about understanding the energetic implications. Remember, everything is energy and your space reflects your life.

Diana DiCristina of Wind Water Harmony is a successful entrepreneur specializing in spirituality, feng shui and color. She blends a kaleidoscope of professional practices and methods to help people enhance their lives by working with their environment. More information at windwaterharmony.com

Rejuvenate and Revitalize Your Body through Nutritional Cleansing

Jump-Start Your Health In The New Year!
by Diane Oldenberg

One of the most basic elements of wellness is feeling good in your own body and having the energy you desire. One of the best ways to jump-start the process of feeling good in your body and gaining energy and vibrancy is through a nutritional cleanse. The ancient process of fasting has been practiced throughout history as a tenet of good health. But nutritional cleansing is different than a fast. It does not starve the body; instead, it replenishes it with vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, herbs, adaptogens and antioxidants) to rejuvenate and revitalize the body while accelerating the removal of impurities. Fad diets, single-organ cleanses, and juice fasts rarely provide the necessary nutrients to retain muscle mass, rebuild health, promote complete cleansing, and sustain your energy.

The start of a new year is often times when people feel the desire to recommit to a healthier lifestyle, whether the goal is simply to lose weight, to increase physical fitness and athletic endurance, or to get healthier in general. There is no quick fix. Living a healthy lifestyle takes commitment and dedication. Making nutritional cleansing part of your healthy lifestyle is a great tool. Jump-starting your New Year with a cleanse could be a wonderful way to get started on your path to healthy living!

Why cleanse? Our bodies are exposed to many everyday toxins that find their way into our system. Environmental pollution, artificial colors and flavoring agents, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and insecticides, mercury, waste, growth hormones and antibiotics in our food supply, chemicals in cleaning supplies and personal toiletry items, stain repellants and flame retardants on our carpets and furniture—all of these pollutants get into our bodies on a daily basis. Stress also increases the body’s burden. Our bodies store the extra waste in fat cells, making the body less efficient, slowing down metabolism, often resulting in lack of energy, dull skin, sluggishness, excess pounds and inches. If we never give our bodies a break and “clean out the filters” so to speak, the body never has the luxury of really digging into the much-needed heavier work of processing and releasing stored toxins, and extra fat and waste that have accumulated over time. We clean or change the filters regularly in our cars, our furnaces, air conditioners, vacuums, dryers and vents, why not in our bodies? When the body is overburdened with too many toxins, it simply cannot function at top efficiency. Eventually, we will feel sluggish, fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, retain excess weight and may become ill.

There is no miracle cure, product, or food. Our bodies are the real miracle. They are designed to cleanse and purify themselves and our wonderful organs do just that – our lungs, liver, skin, kidneys and colon, to name a few. When you cleanse, you give your body a break from its workload so that the body’s innate wisdom can do its job and tend to some of the old stored-up junk.

When cleansing, many people choose to eliminate specific things from their diets, including sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, gluten and animal products. Many of these items can cause inflammation, digestive issues and/or addictions. Great additions to the body during a cleanse are plenty of purified water, fresh whole foods (locally grown, organic choices are best), a complete Nutritional Cleansing system, as well as getting plenty of rest and relaxation. A full-body massage, a hot bath, colon hydrotherapy, detoxifying saunas, and body wraps can also aid the body in releasing toxins and reaching a balanced state of relaxation. Also, try to use only natural, non-chemical cleaning and laundry supplies, as well as personal products. The fewer toxins you expose yourself to, the less your body will have to try to eliminate. Make sure to get regular aerobic exercise and try adding yoga, Pilates, tai chi or qigong to your routine.

A cleansed and revitalized body is stronger, resists illness better, is leaner, more efficient and performs at a higher level than one that is filled with impurities. Many people who regularly cleanse notice an ability to reach and maintain their ideal weight. All adults who live with stress, pollution, and incomplete nutrition should cleanse at least a few times a year. Anyone who is interested in improving the quality of their lives by regaining lost energy, losing excess weight, improving athletic performance, or creating a healthier life should cleanse. Nutritional cleansing is a great way to not only lighten the toxic load off of our bodies, but it can have a significant lightening effect on our moods, our outlook and our sense of spiritual connectedness. It’s all about mind, body and spirit. I would encourage you to consider a nutritional cleanse to jump-start your health and wellness in the New Year, and to make it a part of your everyday, healthy lifestyle.

For help in getting started with nutritional cleansing, please contact the author at d_oldenberg@yahoo.com. To read more about nutritional cleansing, check out: www.PositivelyFit.isagenix.com.