In my last 2 posts, we looked at the Ayurvedic perspective on the menstrual cycle and what can happen to it when too much vata dosha (wind and space) or pitta dosha (water and fire) build up in your body.
In this post, we’ll explore the effects of excess kapha dosha—or water and earth.
Kapha Menstrual Symptoms
Kapha—with its cold, dense, wet, slow and dull qualities—increases the cold, congestion, stagnation and dampness in your system.
As the dosha guiding growth and accumulation, it governs the time between the end of your period and ovulation.
So, the symptoms of excess kapha may show up as:
- Long cycle—more than 35 day cycle length
- Bloating—puffiness, swelling and water-retention during the pre-menstrual days
- Depression—especially dullness and a lack of motivation
- Sleepiness—and a sense of heaviness in the low back and legs
- Emotional eating—very difficult to resist cravings and over-eating in the days before bleeding
- Heavy flow—the tendency towards growth and accumulation may lead to more blood supply to the endometrium as well as thick, mucusy clots
- Headaches—a dull, heavy feeling in the head
- Yeast infections—especially with strong itching
During peri-menopause and menopause, excess kapha may cause excess weight gain, water retention and depression.
To move kapha stagnation you need to reduce the cold, damp, dull and slow qualities in your body by increasing the warm, dry and mobile qualities. This means invoking fire and wind element in your diet and routine.
Warm, dry, bitter and pungent foods will motivate stagnant kapha in the body and the mind.
The kapha appetite is usually not very strong, and can handle eating fewer than 3 meals a day. For some kapha-predominant people, one meal at about 10 am and another at around 4 or 5 might suffice.
So, in general:
- Eat warm, easily digested foods—like mung beans, vegetables, light meats (if any), buckwheat, basmati rice and pomegranates. Focus on vegetables and light grains.
- Drink Tulsi or ginger tea—to help move stagnant lymph and stimulate digestion.
- Use lots of spices when cooking—cumin, coriander, black pepper, ginger, paprika, thyme, basil, rosemary…the more the merrier (up to a point).
- Raw honey—is a magic medicine for kapha excess. It scrapes the channels of the body and helps clear obstruction.
Movement is the name of the game.
Kapha individuals and those with excess kapha need to stimulate and move the heaviness that settles over them. Their tendency towards inertia can compound the heaviness.
That’s why exercise is the best medicine for kapha dosha.
Exercise helps them to clear the fog out of their channels, strengthen their agni and connect with their sensations. From this place of openness and connectedness, they can meet their life with intention and awake-ness.
Some Additional Remedies
Since kapha symptoms in your menstrual cycle indicate excess kapha in your whole system, the approach is to lessen kapha globally. The best remedies for Kapha dosha emphasize warm, mobile and dry.
General remedies for excess kapha:
- Spending some time in the sun—especially in the morning before 11 am.
- Dry-brushing before bathing—you can find directions here.
- Waking before sunrise—this works especially well to clear dullness in the mind and lack of motivation.
- Occasional fasting or light eating days can give kapha digestion a needed boost. One great way to do this is by eating Kitchari for 2 meals once a week.
Remedies for specific complaints:
- Constipation or “slow-bowels”—Triphala, a classic Ayurvedic blend helps to regulate the bowels and clear out build-up of excess dosha. It is safe to use for most people, but do not take it during pregnancy, while you are actually bleeding or for a few days after your period is done.
- To move Kapha menstrual stagnation or to shorten overly long cycles—take 1 tbsp. aloe vera gel or juice with a pinch of black pepper 2 or 3 times per day. Triphala tablets or tea before bed can also be very helpful.
- Depression—try a few rounds of Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) or some ginger tea.
- Lots of stagnation and clotting during your period, or for stiffness in the lower back—a warm castor-oil pack over the lower abdomen or lower back penetrates the abdomen and helps to move stuck kapha. (Your first time doing this may make your flow temporarily heavier as it breaks up stagnation.)
- Water retention—Dandelion or Burdock root tea act as diuretics and help your body get rid of excess water. Beware that you might have to get up at night to pee a couple times if you drink it after dinner. (Roasted kabocha squash also has a pretty strong make-you-pee effect.)
- Bloating—ginger tea or cumin, coriander and fennel tea will help ignite your digestive fire, easing bloating.