Endometriosis is a common health problem among women and happens when tissue similar to the uterus lining grows outside of your uterus. It can also grow in other areas such as vagina, cervix, vulva, bladder or rectum. Mostly it is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissues and the outer surface of the uterus. The main theory that is believed with regard to how it happens is the movement of endometrial debris upward through the fallopian tube instead of downward through the vagina. Yet the cause for this reverse movement (or retrograde menstruation) is unknown.
Ayurveda’s perspective on Endometriosis:
Menstruation is the time of elimination of ama and removal of excess pitta from the body. Ayurveda says retrograde menstruation is caused by a disturbed Vata Dosha. Vata in Ayurveda refers to movement in the body. There are 5 different types of Vata that govern and direct all movement in the body in 5 directions- upwards, downwards, inwards, outwards & around. Of all these, the most influential is the downward movement ‘Apana vata’.
Apana Vata – What is it?
‘Apana’ means anal region or lower part of the body; Apana Vata means the downward movement of air/wind that exits through an anal opening or just goes downwards. It is located in lower parts of the body like lower abdomen, pelvis, anal region or large intestine. It initiates all excretory functions or elimination processes such as urination, bowel motions, ejaculation, childbirth & menstruation.
As Apana vata is responsible to remove wastes from the body, if that movement is disrupted or obstructed for some reason, it causes problems. Apana vata governs menstruation, ovulation, conception & reproduction in women. Whenever there is an imbalance in Apana vata, the menstrual flow can be irregular and painful; and sometimes when it's totally out of balance, it can lead to constipation and diarrhoea.
An unbalanced Apana vata can change the flow of blood (pitta) and can disturb Kapha dosha leading to its growth in places other than regular sites. The pain sensation that is felt is also due to disturbed Vata. Vata is the influential force responsible for the displacement of endometrial tissues; however, all 3 doshas are involved in different combinations in endometriosis. A portion of the endometrium that should be passed out during menstruation is also propelled upwards through the fallopian tubes into the peritoneal cavity.
The main causes for obstruction of Apana vata are due to ama/toxins that get accumulated in the channels & prevents the downward flow. This blockage of Vata dosha causes pain during menstruation. More inflammation (pitta) can cause more pain & scar, adhesions (Kapha) will develop. The greatest cause of disturbed Apana vata is mental stress and excessive physical activity.
Charaka suggests different causes & effects for different prakritis in a woman. For instance: A woman of Vata Prakriti, when consumes improper diet & other activities that lead to vata aggravation; the aggravated Vayu reaches reproductive system and causes symptoms like pain, stiffness, pricking, roughness, numbness, fatigue, etc.
A woman of Pitta Prakriti that suppresses the natural urges (like sneezing, yawning, urination, belching, farting, vomiting), it aggravates vata along with pitta; the aggravated Vayu reaches uterus vitiating it. Here uterus becomes swollen with tenderness & pain.
Endometriosis treatment in Ayurveda:
The main aspects in focus for treating endometriosis comprise of balancing Vata, balancing Pitta, strengthening Agni and eliminating Ama or toxins. It is utmost essential to calm and stabilize Apana vata.
Ayurveda suggests Panchakarma, Basti, Abhyanga, Yoga and deals with treatment in increasing metabolism along with Vata-Kapha pacifying treatments.
Ayurveda lays down specific endometriosis diet principles – consumption of food that help in regular bowel movements, avoiding vata and Kapha increasing foods and favouring fresh homemade food. One also needs to avoid fried food, cold drinks, fatty food, dry foods during periods.
Ayurveda can help you combat endometriosis with dietary changes and a healthy lifestyle.