Reported by John Immel, Asheville, NC|
AYURVEDIC PERSPECTIVE ON EMMENAGOGUEHerbs which stimulate menstruation. Emmenagogues are used for scanty menstruation, to relieve menstrual pain, and improve blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.
Emmenagogues are herbs or foods that stimulate menstruation in cases of:
- Scanty or delayed menstruation,
- Menstrual pain and/or
- Insufficient blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.
Use them in cases of menstrual retention to restore regular, healthy monthly menses when there are symptoms of:
Ayurvedic View of Healthy Menstruation
Women tend towards an excess of blood, while men tend towards an excess of energy.
Healthy menstruation clears this excess, which reduces heat, irritability, water retention, and malaise, leaving women feeling refreshed and grounded.
Menstruation is not specifically a detoxification process like urine, feces or sweat. Instead, it clears toxins and substances alike. Therefore it is more properly a draining process rather than detoxification (Source: Holmes).
It is a serious error for a clinician to force menstruation in cases of blood deficiency
Emmenagogues are also contraindicated in pregnancy as they have an abortive effect.
Click here to review the basics of reproductive health.
Causes of a Long Absent Menstrual Cycle (Pathogenesis)
Amenorrhea, light periods, or long menstrual cycles have the following main causes:
- Poor Liver Function
The liver plays a large role in healthy menstruation. A poorly functioning liver will be unable to clear hormones efficiently, delaying menstruation.
- Suppressed Uterus Function Due to Reproductive Hormones
The following reproductive hormones suppress uterine function:
- Pregnancy or pregnancy hormones such as progesterone
- High levels of lactation hormones (prolactin)
- Deficiency / Low Weight (Vata)
Do not use emmenagogues to encourage menstruation in deficiency conditions. Instead, use nutritives, restorative diets, lifestyle and herbs. Example nutritive herbs for reproductive organs include shatavari, damiana, and saw palmetto.
- General deficiency from too much exercise, or weight loss.
- Blood deficiency (anemia)
- Estrogen deficiency (menopause, stopping birth control pills)
- Stress / Tension (Vata)
As the uterus is a muscle, stress can disrupt its smooth, natural contractions and restrict release of menstrual blood. Travel and emotional shock can also disrupt regular contractions during menstruation, which also disrupts the natural flow of blood from the uterus.
In these cases clear toxicity, and use muscle relaxants that are not progesterone based.
- Uterine Cold (Kapha or Vata)
Uterine cold refers to conditions of poor circulation and blood flow to the uterus. Use warming or vasodilator 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)
Congestion and stagnation in the pelvic area can interfere with healthy menstruation. Some causes include:
Turmeric stimulates the liver and invigorates the blood. Cholagogues such as bhumyamalaki are particularly useful to decongest (thin) the blood plasma, while having a mild laxative effect that clears the abdomen.
- Blood stagnation or congestion (an excess condition)
- Low thyroid, adrenal exhaustion
- Ovarian tumors, cysts
- Other abdominal obstruction such as constipation and abdominal obesity
Notes on Treatment
- Take appropriate herbs daily until flow arrives. Visit our article on amenorrhea and scroll down for a list of possible herbs.
- Delayed menstruation - Take one week before onset is due
- Scanty menstruation - Take 3-4 days before onset is due until flow arrives.
HERBS & SUPPLEMENTS WITH EMMENAGOGUE QUALITY
'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.
Emmenagogue Recipes Listed By Strength
Browse By Popularity
Fenugreek & Fennel Tea
Carrot Ginger & Parsley Vegetable Juicing
Lemon Rosemary Tea
Fresh Turmeric Pickle with Hing & Fenugreek
Mung Dal Kitchari (Vata Reducing)
Corn & Mung Bean Fritters with Parsley, Onion, Pepper & Salt
Apple Chutney with Indian Spices
Saffron Rice with Rose Petals
Red Lentil Dal
Cinnamon Oatmeal with Almonds & Milk
Parsnip, Potato & Carrot Soup with Turmeric
Red Wine Barley Soup with Rosemary & Mushrooms
Almond Milk Chai / Smoothie
Turmeric & Cumin Rescue Tea
Kapha Balancing Tea with Cinnamon & Dill
Almond Milk with Saffron & Cardamom
Spirulina, Banana, Honey, Cinnamon Smoothie
Holiday Spice Blend - Churna
Wild Persimmon Pudding
Yams & Mushrooms with Cinnamon & Rosemary
Buttermilk Curry with Cumin, Mustard Seed & Ghee
Almond Date Shake with Cinnamon
Roasted Pears & Raisins
Grape Juice Chai with Cardamom, Ginger, Turmeric
Honey & Spice Throat Coat
Sweet Potato with Pumpkin Spice & Mustard Seed
Chai Spiced Yogurt
Banana with Ghee & Cinnamon
Wild Rice with Cranberry & Almonds
Baked Apples in Spicy Apricot Sauce
Apple Cider with Spices
Roasted Rice with Dates, Cinnamon & Cardamom
Oranges W/ Cinnamon
Plum Sauce with Rosemary
Apples with Honey & Cinnamon
Saffron & Fennel Seed Spice Blend
About the Author
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics
His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.
John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel,
as well as 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.
Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 6 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.