Wondering if Ayurveda can help restore a hormonal imbalance and make you feel better? We caught up with Ayurvedic Wellness Coach Erica Snyder, founder of Ama to Prana, for a few key questions and answers on how it helps and some simple steps you can take right now.
Can Ayurveda help a hormonal imbalance?
Yes. This is a huge topic. Many hormonal imbalances start from stress. Ayurveda looks at the body as a whole–not only the symptoms you are having in any one area. So, we’re thinking about what you’re dealing with from physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual standpoints. If there are stressors in any of those four areas, you’re going to feel it. It’s only a matter of time before your hormones go out of whack.
What do you recommend for women who want to use Ayurveda for a hormone imbalance?
We need to look at all four areas to make the most improvement with Ayurveda and hormonal imbalance. Mental, emotional, and spiritual work is difficult but needs to be done. But a lot of times, people like to start with physical changes because they are more tangible.
What are some physical changes that most of us can benefit from?
A huge one is to think about the foods we eat and also how we’re digesting them.
How’s your appetite? How are you responding to the foods you eat? What does your digestion look like? What does your daily poop look like? Ayurveda looks at all of those because it tells us how you’re handling the stress in your life. By looking at those elements in the physical body, we can get some clues as to what’s going on throughout.
There’s a saying in Ayurveda: how you eat is more important than what you eat. How are you eating? Is it quality food? Are you tasting it? Are you even chewing it? Try to sit down for your meal and paying attention to what you’re eating. Even if you make it three minutes, you’re giving it your entire focus and that’s good for your body. That seems really easy, but it’s so hard. Every mom will agree with that. But it makes a big difference.
Love your liver and take intentional steps to support it.
The liver processes so much, including hormones. When we say “love your liver,” we mean supporting it intentionally so it can deal with toxicity. (In Ayurveda, we call toxicity ama.) Food, skin, inhalation of pollution, plastics, xenoestrogens all raise ama, or toxicity, levels in our body and that can make for hormonal imbalance. Ayurveda says ama blocks the cellular reception of estrogen, so the more we can clear it, the better results we can get.
Obviously, to love the liver, we want to drink enough water. Another good option is a liver-supporting tea. Gotu kola (or brahmi) is a great way to support your body and it doesn’t aggravate any of the three doshas, or different forces that make up a person’s body. If there ever were a go-to herb (if we could ever truly say that), brahmi would be it. It’s really good for women’s health and works on brain function and clarity. It’s also very grounding, which is especially good in autumn and winter.
There are a lot of “cleanses” marketed to help the liver. But, really, one of the simplest ways is to have your big meal in the middle of the day. With many of us home right now, this has become pretty manageable. It’s a counter-shift to what we are used to in American culture. But it makes sense because this is our peak time of day. It’s when your digestive fire is highest.
When we have our biggest meal at the end of the day, we’re not giving our body much time to digest. Your body slows down while you sleep and you don’t digest as well. If it’s not possible to make this shift, try to eat smaller and lighter at night. Save dairy for midday and eat things like rice and vegetables for dinner that are easier to digest.
Watch what you consume at night and get to bed by 10 p.m.
We think of ingesting as food, but if you really think about what you’re ingesting, it’s more than that. News, media, social media–those are things we take in through our eyes and it affects us. Turn it off an hour before bedtime so you’re not overloading before sleep.
So why 10 p.m. on bedtime?
At night, we finally get a minute to ourselves. All we want to do is scroll through our feeds or catch up. But even though it feels good to do in the moment, staying up and ingesting so much content really isn’t supporting our health. 10 p.m. is when, energetically, there’s a shift in the way things function. Our bodies slow down and focus on repairs and regeneration when we’re asleep. It’s hard to get to bed by 10 p.m., I know. But it’s a good goal.
Can you talk a little more about ama‘s role in hormonal imbalance?
In the physical body, we talk a lot about ama. Like I mentioned, this is the toxicity we take in. Addressing ama is so important–that’s why it’s even a part of my wellness coaching name (Ama to Prana).
We talked earlier about how food, breathing, what we read, and other things can be toxic. Things that are toxic build up in our bodies over time. If there is too much toxicity in your body (no matter how it gets there), it’s hard for your body to deal with. It takes it longer to process and your body becomes unbalanced. Taking care of yourself and making some simple changes seem like a small thing to do, but they really do help lower the ama you take in and let your body clear what is already there. When that happens, we’re finally able to feel better and our hormones begin to stabilize themselves as well.