About Emmenagogue (Stimulate menstruation) in Ayurveda
Herbs which stimulate menstruation. Emmenagogues are used for scanty menstruation, to relieve menstrual pain, and improve blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.
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AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON EMMENAGOGUEEmmenagogues stimulate menstruation. They should be used in cases of menstrual retention due to low functioning uterus (low artava agni), or blood congestion / stagnation (poor circulation - vyana vayu). The goal of an emmenagogues is to restore regular, healthy monthly menses. (Source: Holmes)
Healthy menstruation drains excess blood. Women tend towards an excess of blood, while men tend towards an excess of energy. Menstruation clears this excess, which reduces heat, irritability, water retention, and malaise, leaving the woman feeling refreshed and grounded.
Menstruation is not specifically a detoxification process like urine or feces. Instead, it clears toxins and substance alike. Therefore it is more properly a process of draining, not detoxification (Holmes).
The clinician should never force a menstruation in cases of blood deficiency, a serious error. Emmenagogues are also contraindicated in pregnancy - as they can have an abortive effect.
Amenorrhea, light periods, or long menstrual cycles has several types.
Poor liver functionThe liver plays a large role in healthy menstruation. A poorly functioning liver will not be able to clear hormones efficiently, delaying menstruation.
Suppressed Uterus Function
Deficiency / Low Weight (Vata)
Stress / Tension (Vata)Stress can disrupt hormones. As the uterus is a muscle, stress can disrupt natural contractions and smooth release of menstrual blood. Travel, and emotional shock can also disrupt the menstrual cycle. Toxicity can also disrupt natural flow of the uterus. In these cases clear toxicity, and use muscle relaxants that are not progeserone based.
Uterine Cold (Kapha or Vata)Use warming or vasodilating herbs that stimulate blood flow, especially those that have an affinity for the reproductive tract. Example: cinnamon, hing, rosemary, ginger, guggulu. frankincense.
Excess / Congestion / Stagnation (Kapha)Especially congestion that includes other abdominal stagnation such as constipation and abdominal obesity.
Note on Treatment
Herbal actions common to many herbs listed in Emmenagogue:
PUNGENTPungency is characterized by irritation, or sharp, spicy foods that irritate the mouth such as black pepper.
DRYDry is identified by lack of moisture, lack of fat, or anything that causes diuresis.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestion.
HOTHot is identified by increased body temperature, metabolism, or inflammation.
BITTERBitter is disagreeable and stimulating rejection, and a strong taste often associated with black coffee, dark chocolate, and most salad greens.
DIAPHORETICAn herb that induces sweating, often by dilating blood vessels close to the skin.
CLEARClear refers to anything that cleanses or flushes out wastes, or that digests ama.
DETOXICANTAn herb that decongests, dislodges or improves metabolization of toxins from the body, transforming or altering fluids to a more healthy state.
STIMULATES-ENERGYThis category groups thyroid and adrenal stimulating herbs.
ANTISPASMODICHerbs that reduce or inhibit muscle spasms or cramping, such as in asthma, menstruation, hear palpitations, migraine, or IBS.
BLOOD-MOVERBlood movers improve circulation through these mechanisms: Cardiac stimulation (usually pungents), vasodilation (usually aromatics), or blood thinning (usually bitters).
ASTRINGENTAstringency is characterized by constriction, drawing together, or drying.
DIURETICHerbs that promote urine formation, thereby flushing the kidneys and urinary tract while eliminating any excess water retention. As diuretics reduce water retention, they are often used to reduce blood pressure.
MOBILEMobile refers to anything that stimulates the nervous system, muscles, or activity.
LIGHTLightness is identified by reduced weight.
SWEETSweet refers to anything builds tissue, including macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
CARMINATIVEStimulates the release of gas. Helpful for bloating or cramping abdominal pain. Propels food downward.
AROMATICHerbs or spices with volatile essential oils that present strong aromas. Aromatic oils shock, refresh and numb tissue, with the end result of relaxing, opening and clearing stagnant fluids in tissues.
ANALGESICRelieves or reduces feelings of pain without eliminating sensation.
VASODILATORA vasodilator is an herb that widens the blood vessels by the relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, thereby increasing circulation systemically or to a local area.
HELPFUL FOR*'Emmenagogue' may be helpful for these symptoms and causes below.
CONTRAINDICATIONS / AGGRAVATES / IS AGGRAVATED BY*'Emmenagogue' may aggravate, or be aggravated by, these symptoms and causes below.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.