The Sanskrit word for health, svastha, is truly beautiful in its translation. Swa translates to “my own self,” and stha translates to “to be situated.” Thus, svastha means to be situated, or established, in one’s self. When applied to womanhood, this definition becomes profound. What does it mean to be established in one’s self? To be healthy in one’s body, mind, and spirit? Women are givers, tenders, and creators, and to be firmly established may sometimes feel like a challenge. In his book, Ayurveda for Women, Dr. Robert Svoboda says, “Self-establishment requires good balance…that dynamic equipoise in which each of an individual’s constituents participates.” Foremost, Ayurveda seeks to promote balance in one’s life, indeed, in one’s Self.
A Woman’s Cycle
The obvious difference between men’s and women’s health is that fact that women alone hold the capacity to create and carry children. And this phenomenon makes itself known through a woman’s monthly cycle. With this capacity comes health concerns that are uniquely her own. One of the critical ways the body seeks to maintain its own homeostasis is by the regulation of hormones, and because a woman’s hormones are dictated by her cycle, finding balance can seem elusive at best. Ayurveda gives us practical yet elegant guidance for how to balance hormones naturally. Through her cycle she is also intimately tied to nature, as many women follow the cycle of the moon, or at least the moon’s rhythms with her ebb and her flow. For additional reading on a woman’s cycle, our Healthy Cycle Guide offers much more nuanced information from an Ayurvedic perspective.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that essentially affect every cell in the body. In woman’s body this is especially true when it comes to her reproductive health, breast care, weight management, libido, and fertility. A woman’s hormone balance will dictate the health of each of these aspects of her body and well-being. In very simple terms, we have some key players when it comes to stress and sex. Estrogen, or estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone. These hormones flux throughout a woman’s cycle and again, more prominently, when going through menopause. We also have our main stress hormones which affect the quality, and balance, of the sex hormones.
Herbs for Women’s Health
Herbs are nature’s Ayurvedic medicine for women, and Banyan offers a far-reaching variety of organic herbs and supplements for women’s health. While many herbs are considered good for all doshas, some are recommended for certain dosha types over others, or at least in different quantities. If you are not sure of your Ayurvedic body type, our dosha quiz is a wonderful resource. After a short series of questions, you will be given useful information to your unique constitution and also your state of balance.
Certain herbs hold a special place for women’s health in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia:
- Shatavari is considered one of the main rejuvenatives for the female reproductive system. Its name translates to “she who has one hundred husbands” which cleverly alludes to its powers as an aphrodisiac and reproductive tonic. It’s calming to vata and also soothing to pitta. It is said to promote milk and semen production and to also nourish the mucous membranes.
- Also known as kapikkachu, Mucuna is another important reproductive tonic for both males and females. As a natural source of levodopa, the precursor to dopamine, Mucuna is known to benefit both the central and peripheral nervous system, thus mitigating the stress response in the body. Mucuna is classified as an aphrodisiac, not only strengthening to the reproductive organs but supporting libido as well.
- Ashoka is known as the “remover of sorrows.” It has an affinity for the uterus and reproductive system. It helps promote regular cycles and healthy ovarian and endometrial tissue. Try an Ashoka bath to sooth the nervous system and to melt away any lingering sorrows.
- Fenugreek supports the digestive process, which is a fundamental aspect of health in Ayurveda. It also promotes healthy lactation and acts as a rejuvenative to the reproductive system.
- While ashwaganda is often thought of in terms of the male reproductive system, it is equally supportive to women as it is nourishing and building to all tissues. As an adaptogen, it also helps the body adjust to various stressors, thus easing some of the work that falls to the adrenal glands and their response to stress.
Banyan Formulas for Women
Banyan has also taken out some of the herbal guesswork by creating some unique herbal blends designed especially for women’s health and hormone balance.
- Women’s Natural Transition
- Women’s Support
- Healthy Bones
- Breast Care Balm