Q: What do you recommend for helping with hot flashes? And does it have anything to do with a dosha imbalance? (I believe I’m Pitta)?
A: Given how menopause is not a disease to be prevented but a biological inevitability, Ayurveda places emphasis on identifying the nature of the symptoms and treating them accordingly. In other words, a practitioner will determine if symptoms are caused more by the dry and frenetic nature of Vata imbalances (insomnia, vaginal dryness, depression, anxiety), the fiery nature of Pitta imbalances (hot flashes, irritability), or the heavy nature of Kapha imbalances (fatigue, lethargy, water retention, weight gain, obesity). Once the most dominant symptoms are identified, the patient then works to resolve the imbalances of the related doshas. A patient may have more than one doshic imbalance, and therefore the lifestyle changes must change to accommodate multiple types of symptoms.
Since you experience hot flashes as a dominant symptom of menopause, then your speculation on having a lot of Pitta energy in your constitution sounds on-target. It is, of course, ideal for you to consult with a trained Ayurvedic practitioner before implementing any sort of intense herbal regimen, but you will very likely benefit from generally cooling your body off and allowing your digestive fire to settle down a bit. To do this, do some or all of the following things:
- Create a regular sleep routine, and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help to regulate bodily systems.
- Similarly, create a regular eating routine, as this will likewise help to regulate the body.
- Avoid eating at least 4 to 5 hours before going to bed, as leaving undigested food in the stomach may irritate the stomach and exacerbate symptoms.
- Favor a simple, easy-to-digest diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains so as to promote regularity in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Avoid heavy foods at night, which will create more stress on the digestive fire.
- Avoid a lot of rapid movement and aggressive exercise.
- Avoid the hot sun and letting it shine directly on the head and body.
- Massage the body with ghee on a daily basis (you can add ghee to some scentless cream).
- Avoid too many sour, salty, and pungent foods.