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Ayurvedic Tips for Maintaining Cognitive Health During Menopause

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medically reviewed by Dr Naveen Chandran

Dr J S S Dev

Updated on February 08, 2024

Menopause and memory - although they rhyme well, they do not go together. The menopausal memory-related symptoms include brain fog, memory lapses and decreased mental clarity. In this blog, we will look to find a solution for your cognitive health during menopause using Ayurveda.

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Understanding Menopausal Brain Health

Menopause denotes the end stage of a woman's reproductive years. This natural process ceases the production of oestrogen and progesterone, which plays a role in cognitive function, among other functions. The process can fog your brain. You may experience difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness and word retrieval, usually called menopausal fog.

Cognitive Changes During Your Menopause

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Memory Problems

Menopause can play pranks with your memory. It may cause you difficulty in remembering names or appointments.

Mood Swings

You may find that women during menopause experience mood changes. As a woman undergoing menopause, you may feel anxious, irritated or may even experience depression. Along with the hormonal changes, the physical symptoms of menopause are responsible for this.

Difficulty Concentrating

Menopause may pause your brain during an activity or task, affecting focus. This may be due to a decrease in oxygen levels.

Brain Fog

As the name suggests, this is a feeling of confusion or mental cloudiness. It can be due to hormonal changes, stress, lack of sleep, etc.

Exploring the Relationship Between Ayurveda and Cognitive Health

Understanding the mind has been a subject of study for centuries. Ayurveda has a deep and meaningful understanding of this complex and subtle entity. It is a product of 3 qualities or Gunas - Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

Sattva denotes purity, clarity, and wisdom. It is linked with positive mental states such as peace, contentment, and compassion.

Rajas denotes activity, passion, and desire. It is linked with both positive and negative mental states, such as enthusiasm, creativity, and ambition, on the one hand and anger, restlessness, and anxiety, on the other.

Tamas denotes inertia, dullness, and ignorance. It is linked with negative mental states such as laziness, depression, and apathy.

You may find the above three gunas or qualities in varying proportions in everyone. In a sattvic mind, the predominant mind sattva is clear, focused, and intelligent. A rajasic mind, the mind having increased rajas guna, is active and creative, but it can also be restless and anxious. A tamasic mind dominating tamas guna is dull and sluggish.

A healthy mind is in balance between the three gunas. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a balance between these three gunas to ensure optimal mental health.

Ayurvedic Practices for Cognitive Well-Being

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Ayurveda is not only a theoretical science but also an efficient one. To balance the mano gunas, Ayurveda mentions practical steps. Let's take a look at them:

Your Diet Matters

Ayurveda emphasises a lot on what we eat. A sattvic diet is mentioned for increasing the sattva guna of your mind. The pure, fresh, light and easy-to-digest diet is a sattvic one. You can include foods like dairy products and healthy fats, too. Avoid sugary drinks, processed foods, alcohol and excessive amounts of meat, as they can decrease the sattva guna.

Sleep

Sleep is one of the three pillars of Ayurveda. Good, sound sleep ensures proper physical health and enhances mental and cognitive function. You may require 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Exercise

Physical exercise or any physical activity is proportional to your mental activity. Ayurveda recognises this and advises you to regularly exercise until you feel half of your strength is left/utilised.

Yoga

Practising yoga, including Pranayama, physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation, can improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and maintain overall well-being. Pranayama is a very effective and easy method to incorporate into your life for better brain health. Practice pranayama techniques like naadi shodhana, etc, daily for at least 15 minutes.

Dinacharya - The Daily Regime of Ayurveda

Besides its therapeutic insights, Ayurveda preaches the science of life. How to live healthily, how to live a social life, how to groom yourself, etc., can be found in the Ayurveda teachings. Following a regular and healthy dinacharya (daily regimen) can help you balance the doshas and promote overall health and well-being.

Here is a glimpse of dinacharya that you can follow to support and enhance your cognitive health:

  • Wake up before sunrise,
     
  • Drink a glass of warm water,
     
  • Attend to your primary urges like defecation,
     
  • Brush your teeth and clean your tongue,
     
  • Exercise, ensure you don't waste your complete energy doing it. You can practise yoga after your exercise regimen. Try doing meditation and simple yoga poses.
     
  • Do Abhyanga - Oil massage, especially on your head, ears and feet,
     
  • Take a cold shower/bath,
     
  • Intake of a healthy breakfast,
     
  • Always eat only when hungry and after ensuring the previous meal is digested.
     
  • After dinner (which should be very light), walk at least 100 feet.
     
  • Go to bed early at night, ideal before 10 p.m.

By following Dinacharya, you get organised and will be able to find a synchronising balance in your life even though your hormones are in a state of imbalance. This balance is essential for a healthy brain and its proper functioning.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Cognition

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Ayurveda textbooks are a treasure trove of medicinal herbs. By learning to utilise these herbs properly, we can achieve prime health. Herbs for balancing the hormonal changes of menopause, such as Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), ashwagandha (Wiithania somnifera) and the herbs which help to increase your intellect and protect your cognitive health like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), shankapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) etc. are also mentioned in the classical textbooks.

Some of the herbal preparations that can effectively act on your cognitive health during menopause are as follows:

Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica) and Shankapushpi

The first two herbs are proven to be very effective for balancing hormonal imbalances, while the latter two help to promote cognitive health. Ashtangahrdya, the classical ayurvedic text, mentions a preparation made with these four herbs to help maintain cognitive health during menopause.

Amla (Indian Gooseberry)

  • To prevent senility, taking powder of sesamum and amla mixed with honey and ghee is an excellent choice. 
  • Daily consuming a single fruit of Indian gooseberry can help you during menopause.
  • Drink amla juice mixed with honey, sugar, and ghee can prevent cognitive problems.

Mandukaparni, Madhuka (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) and Shankhpushpi

When mixed with milk and consumed, Mandukaparni and Guduchi (whole plant) juices, the paste of Shankhupushpi and madhuka powder, help improve cognitive health.

All these herbal formulations mentioned in the traditional Ayurvedic textbooks are still being used effectively for the indicated conditions. To begin your Ayurvedic journey of consuming herbal formulations, consult a certified Ayurvedic practitioner for proper analysis and guidance.

In addition, Ayurveda classical formulations like decoctions (medicated water-based drinks), tablets, processed ghee, etc, are employed to manage this condition. Furthermore, panchakarma techniques like Sirodhara can significantly affect cognitive health.

Diet for Cognitive Clarity

Here are some dietary tips and guidelines to support your cognitive health:

  • Go for Whole Grains Over Refined Grains: Whole grains are undoubtedly an excellent source of fibre and complex carbohydrates, improving blood sugar control and supporting cognitive function. Oats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc., are excellent choices.
     
  • Consume Healthy Fats: Fats in olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds benefit your brain's health.
     
  • Eat Many Fruits and Vegetables: Richly packed with antioxidants, fruits and vegetables can protect your brain from damage. 
     
  • Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, junk foods and unhealthy fats. You know the reasons why. It is highly detrimental to your cognitive health.
     
  • For better cognitive health, include antioxidants, brain-nourishing nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids in your daily diet.

Here is a curated list that will help you to choose foods for your diet:

Component Source
AntioxidantsBerries, citrus fruits, green tea, turmeric, leafy green vegetables, dark chocolates
Omega 3 fatty acidsCia seeds, walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, flax seeds
Brain nourishing nutrientsIron, magnesium, vitamin b12, zinc, Folate

Curate a diet that can cater to your body's needs. Try to incorporate phytoestrogen-containing foods like Flax seeds, oats, etc.

Conclusion

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Menopause can pause your daily life. Moving forward by taking care of your health is the most crucial step. By incorporating the Ayurvedic wisdom, you can healthily steer your life. Nutrition is essential during this period. What your body lacks during the menopausal phase must be supplemented through your diet. Join us and begin your menopausal journey with us.

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