PCOD & Dosha Imbalance – An Ayurvedic Viewpoint

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PCOD & Dosha Imbalance – An Ayurvedic Viewpoint

Estimated to have a prevalence rate as high as 20% in India, PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) is increasingly regarded as a public health threat. PCOD or PCOS is particularly concerning as it is an endocrinal disorder that affects young women during their childbearing years. This has adverse effects on metabolic and reproductive health, also raising the risk of other ailments like infertility, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

As PCOS is classified as a chronic or incurable condition, conventional treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and preventing complications, but these treatments must be taken for life and can also cause other side effects. A closer look at the Ayurvedic perspective of PCOD can help shed some light on the underlying causes, which are not clearly understood by modern science, also giving us natural treatment options that are safe and effective. 

The Ayurvedic Perspective Of PCOD

Classical texts like the Caraka Samhita do not contain specific references to PCOD as a single disease, but there are conditions that can be recognized as such. This includes gulma, which can actually have different meanings, depending on the context. In some cases it can refer to PCOS, describing abdominal mass, lumps, or cysts that develop as a result of doshic imbalances, with symptoms like bloating, pain, delayed or irregular menstruation, and infertility. It can also be identified in some texts with the classification of granthi, wherein it refers to the development of abnormalities like cysts, ulcers, and lumps or tumors.

Although there may not be much agreement on the specific condition that relates to PCOD, there is a wealth of information in Ayurvedic literature about conditions involving symptoms that are closely associated with PCOD. Based on this information, it is believed that PCOD can be linked to weakening of the rasa and rakta dhatus, or blood plasma and red blood cells. This weakening of the dhatus has its origins in dosha imbalances that we shall discuss in detail below. The other direct cause is said to be a buildup of ama or toxins in these dhatus, leading to an elevated risk of cyst formation in and around the ovaries. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of dosha balance and how this relates to PCOD development.

The Role Of Dosha Imbalance In PCOD Onset

Doshas or natural energies exist in natural and in all of us, with each human being having a unique balance of doshas – described as prakriti. While there are 3 main doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha, there are also subdoshas. While you don’t need to be familiar with all of the subdoshas, it helps to be familiar with the concept. What’s important to note is that each dosha plays a role in the maintenance of health and regulation of reproductive cycles. 

Under normal circumstances, the reproductive system is dominated by vata dosha. The female reproductive organs are located in and comprised of what is called artava dhatu, which nourishes the ovum. Vata being the mobile energy influences the movement of the follicle and the ovum into the fallopian tubes so that it can reach the uterus. A vata subdosha, called apana vayu also plays a role in the reproductive cycle, allowing the downward movement of menstrual flow. Pitta on the other hand has an influence on the production and balance of hormones, while kapha nourishes and promotes tissue growth and the health and development of the follicles, uterus, and ovum. 

PCOS origins can be traced to imbalances or a disruption of this harmonic relationship of the doshas. It is described as a tridoshic condition, involving aggravation of any of the doshas. However, it typically begins as a vata imbalance, which leads to a cascading effect on kapha and pitta in the shukra vaha srota or the reproductive channel. Vitiation of vata in the channel causes menstrual irregularities, while pitta vitiation produces PCOS symptoms like hormonal imbalances that can manifest in histruism and increased acne. Kapha vitiation also contributes to some of the most common symptoms or characteristics of PCOD, including weight gain and cyst formation. In fact, PCOS eventually progresses to a point where it is regarded primarily as a kapha imbalance. Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS includes using several herbs that help balance the doshas like those used in Cycloherb.

References:

  • Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic Press, 2002.
  • Gupta, Hirendra, et al. Caraka Samhita: (a Scientific Synopsis). National Institute of Sciences of India, 1965.
  • Vagbhata, et al. Astanga Hrdayam. Krishnadas Academy, 1999.
  • Nybacka, Åsa, et al. “Increased Fibre and Reduced Trans Fatty Acid Intake Are Primary Predictors of Metabolic Improvement in Overweight Polycystic Ovary Syndrome-Substudy of Randomized Trial between Diet, Exercise and Diet plus Exercise for Weight Control.” Clinical Endocrinology, vol. 87, no. 6, 2017, pp. 680–688. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cen.13427
  • Eslamian, G., et al. “Dietary Carbohydrate Composition Is Associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: a Case-Control Study.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 30, no. 1, 2016, pp. 90–97. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jhn.12388
  • De, Alok et al. “Emblica officinalis extract induces autophagy and inhibits human ovarian cancer cell proliferation, angiogenesis, growth of mouse xenograft tumors.” PloS one vol. 8,8 e72748. 15 Aug. 2013, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072748
  • Arentz, Susan et al. “Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine vol. 14 511. 18 Dec. 2014, https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-14-511
  • Kalani, A., Bahtiyar, G., & Sacerdote, A. (2012). Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. BMJ case reports2012, bcr2012006989. https://casereports.bmj.com/content/2012/bcr-2012-006989
  • Saiyed, Amrin et al. “Effect of combination of Withania somnifera Dunal and Tribulus terrestris Linn on letrozole induced polycystic ovarian syndrome in rats.” Integrative medicine research vol. 5,4 (2016): 293-300. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213422016300750
  • Park, Jeong-Sook, et al. “The Spermatogenic and Ovogenic Effects of Chronically Administered Shilajit to Rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 107, no. 3, 2006, pp. 349–353. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16698205/
  • Ratnakumari, M Ezhil et al. “Study to Evaluate the Changes in Polycystic Ovarian Morphology after Naturopathic and Yogic Interventions.” International journal of yoga vol. 11,2 (2018): 139-147 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29755223/

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