Pregnancy brings about many changes in a women’s body. Immunity which is constantly in a state of flux is one such change! While the entire world is discussing the one and only novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19, it is need of the hour to discuss pregnancy care with respect to the virus!
Not only are pregnant women more susceptible to all respiratory viral ailments, the risks attached to such infections during pregnancy are very severe. Also, to add to the chaos, the complications during pregnancy due to COVID-19 are not clearly understood.
With hospital visits being actively avoided and discouraged, not being able to see your doctor in person can be very very stressful. Also, mandatory visits are full of stress for the fear of getting infected. In times of such pandemic, all we can do is to focus on prevention and take every necessary precaution.
What are the precautions a pregnant women should take during COVID 19 pandemic?
Social distancing is something we all know can safeguard our health and reduce the spread of this virus! Here are some tips:
- Avoid visits to hospitals, diagnostic labs and clinics if it can be managed by tele-consulting with your Obstetrician.
- Avoid going to places with heavy footfalls e.g grocery stores and medical stores/pharmacies. Have someone deliver it to you if possible. If you have to step out wear and mask and gloves
- If you have to go to hospitals, grocery stores or medical stores, wear a face mask- even home-made cotton masks are ok! Shower up and wash your clothes, footwear, electronics etc. as soon as you come home. If you cannot wash your clothes immediately, store them in a garbage bag till you can wash them. It is advisable that clothes you wore to the diagnostic labs or hospitals should be washed with hot water.
- Carry as few things as possible while going out e.g. jewelry, handbag etc. It just increases the list of things you have sanitize.
- Use UPI based payments. Avoid handling card swiping machines, cards and cash!
- As it goes for everyone else, avoid touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes while you are out.
However, social distancing can be depressing and stressful for some! Practicing Yoga, Yogic relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises will surely help!
As a side note, remember that social distancing is not all that bad! Ayurvedic dietetics and lifestyle advised during pregnancy is very minimalist. It does advise a pregnant women to introspect and reduce external stimulation. Hence, make the most of this time!
Stress is synonymous with the current times! Managing stress is essential for good immunity as well as overall pregnancy well-being. I cannot stress enough about developing your own plan for managing stress during pregnancy.
How to do that? Who will help? Who do you reach out to?
With social distancing in place, you are your best helper! I firmly believe that happiness and peace is born within and can never be sought from outside! It is easier said than done! However, practicing self-management of stress,emotions, internal happiness and peace, is key to being emotionally independent and hence stress free.
How to make your own stress management plan?
- Find what relaxes you: We all have our own way of relaxing. Find out what you like! Is it a hot shower with essential oils or bath salts, diffusing essential oil in the house, praying, meditation, chanting, painting, craft, singing, playing a musical instrument, reading a book, watching movies and so on.
- Find what grade of stress you are feeling: Figure out how much the stress is disrupting your quality of life. If stress is affecting your life severely and interfering with your ability to function normally or having physical effects like lack of sleep, appetite or increased blood pressure, seek professional help like counselling or professional coaching in Yoga immediately.
- Put your thoughts in words: Many times the agitation we feel due to stress cannot be expressed in words. This is the reason why people who feel the stress cannot express it in an objective way. Writing down how you feel when you are feeling stressed or anxious or depressed helps!!
However, should you feel emotionally depressed or anxious and nothing seems to work, look for various online counselling portals opened by the government for mental and emotional health. You can also reach out to counselors who offer telephonic counselling sessions.
Reinforce your immunity!
It was earlier believed that pregnancy leads to compromised immunity. However, newer studies show that the immune system undergoes changes which are strategically timed according to the stages of pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s immune system not only actively protects the fetus, it also helps in timing labor and delivery.
Gut microbiota, also referred to as gut microbiome or gut flora, is believed to influence all the immune responses during pregnancy and non-pregnant states. We know that imbalance of the gut microbiome or the good bacteria in our gut can also lower our immunity. Hence, supplements and foods which can boost gut health and immunity are:
- Probiotics: The first step to boost immunity during pregnancy is to include plenty of probiotics and foods which have probiotic effects in our diet. Also, avoiding foods which are extremely acidic in nature e.g. refined grains, sugar, processed foods, extremely spicy and deep fried foods etc. helps to reduce depletion of gut flora. Food that have good probiotic effects are
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Natural sweeteners like jaggery
- fermented foods- idli, dosa, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, pickles etc.
- Iron: Iron is important not for prevention of anemia, it is also important to maintain strong immune functions during pregnancy. Iron \ is extremely essential in all trimesters of pregnancy. Foods like carrot, beetroot, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, avocados, green leafy and dark green leafy vegetables etc. are rich in iron and must be a part of regular diet.
- Zinc: Zinc is one of the most crucial micro-minerals that we need to boost our immunity especially in the respiratory system. Foods like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, corn, dried nuts like almonds, walnuts are good sources of zinc. However, for those with poor immunity, zinc supplements are advisable during pregnancy. Always check with with your doctor’s office for safe zinc supplements during pregnancy for you.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also a crucial vitamin for maintaining robust immune system. Fresh fruits are a great way of getting your daily dose of vitamin C. Raw vegetables also contain Vitamin C e.g Carrots, beetroot, radish etc.
- Ayurvedic supplements: Ayurvedic herbs like shatavari (Asparagus racemosa), tulasi (Ocimum sanctum), bhumyamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), turmeric (Curcuma longa) etc. are great during pregnancy for boosting immunity for viral respiratory infections like COVID 19 as well as for overall health during pregnancy. Taking these herbs in adequate doses (with prescription from your Ayurvedic practitioner) is highly recommended. Other herbs like echinacea also called elderberry are also excellent for boosting immunity.
Yoga is excellent for boosting lung health and immunity. Yogic breathing exercises like Pranayama helps in respiratory immunity. Regular practice of pregnancy yoga suitable for every trimester is a must for immunity and ensuring healthy pregnancy. Physical inactivity and poor breathing can both lead to slow metabolism and in turn poor immunity. With shelter-in-place orders in effect for most nations affected with COVID 19, regular walks, yoga classes etc. seem like luxuries we cannot access anymore. Practice of yoga take very little space and can be done in the safety of your home! If you are not finding the motivation to do it, there are many Yoga therapists who are offering one-on-one daily classes with apps like Zoom, which can be really helpful.
Hope all of us emerge safely on the other side of this quarantine. Hope these tips help all women who are pregnant and stuck at home! Stay home, stay safe!!!
A stitch in time saves nine! This idiom fits perfectly when it comes to health. Timely management of disorders ensures optimum recovery. Delaying treatment on the other hand can affect the efficacy of any treatment. This is true more so in case of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Mrs. Seeta* (*Name changed to keep patient information confidential) underwent at my clinic Ayushya AyurCare in Malleshwaram, Bangalore! Her story reiterates the importance of early diagnosis and treatment in Poly-cystic Ovarian Disease!
More than often, patients of PCOS/PCOD come to Ayurveda as a last resort after trying conventional medicines and after several months of taking Oral contraceptive pills. By the time they opt for Ayurveda, the disease is so chronic that it might take several months or years to give positive therapy results.
Our patient, Mrs. Seeta, is a 26 year old married woman. She had regular periods, but was gaining an unusual amount of weight especially after getting married. After months of trying to conceive naturally, she did not conceive. This raised red flags in her mind and she decided to see me at the clinic. She told me that she was always on the heavier side of weight since childhood and had severe acne issues during her teenage years. We had her undergo investigations for ruling out hypothyroidism and PCOD. She was shocked when she saw her ultrasound came positive for poly-cystic ovaries.
After explaining the need for Panchakarma detoxification and its strict protocol, Seeta was mentally ready to undergo Panchakarma treatment. She underwent a detailed Virechana treatment with customized diet to suit her body type. Virechana, which is one of the Panchakarma treatments, helps to give a head-start in the management of PCOS. Mrs. Seeta is still under treatment to ensure complete restoration of hormonal balance and prevent recurrence. Her reports before she underwent detoxification with Panchakarma and 3 months after her detoxification are extremely encouraging.
Credit also goes to Mrs. Seeta, who is a fantastic patient! She followed all our instructions to the core. Her dedication towards following the diet and lifestyle we recommended was amazing. Not only did she take a decision for timely rectification of her hormonal imbalances, she also ensured that she played her role in ensuring success of the treatment perfectly.
I hope that Seeta’s story helps many other women suffering from PCOS/ PCOD!
Nothing gives more joy to a physician than seeing their patients do better! I have been working with women suffering from PCOS for the past 11 years and have seen countless patients get control over their massive hormonal imbalance with the help of Ayurveda.Whether it is irregular periods, weight gain, acne , hair loss or infertility in PCOS; Ayurveda is definitely the way the go! It gives me great joy to share one such success stories of PCOS treatment with Ayurvedic medicine and Pachakarma.
Mrs. Priya (Name changed to protect patient’s identity) a 28 year old married lady came to our clinic after she watched my videos on Youtube discussing the benefits of Ayurvedic Panchakarma in PCOS and infertility. Priya had amenorrhea i.e. absent periods which could be several months at a time.What started as irregular periods initially, ultimately lead to complete absence of periods. When she consulted gynecologists, she was given prescription drugs to induce bleeding. This was the only way she could get periods. As a result of repeatedly taking medications to induce bleeding, Priya completely stopped having periods after 2 years.
Priya was diagnosed with PCOS after doing Ultrasonography scan of her pelvis 3 year ago. Repeat ultrasound showed enlarged ovaries with peripherally arranged follicles- a tell-tale sign of PCOS! None of the conventional medicines worked! Priya continued to visit one gynecologist after another, hopeful that she would get some solution to treat her Polycystic Ovaries.
Priya’s fasting insulin, blood sugar levels, thyroid functions, male hormone testosterone and AMH levels (Anti-mullerian Hormone- Indicator of ovarian reserves of ova and even PCOS) were all within normal limits. However, her endometrium grew at a very slow pace, just a few millimeters every month or less. In a normal cycle, the endometrium should grow 10mm in 28-30 days. She had gained weight especially in the last one year. Also, she was eager to conceive!
Priya and her husband were mentally prepared to undergo Ayurvedic Panchakarma as well as diet and lifestyle counselling. After careful history taking, this is what was advised to Priya:
Step 1: Dietary modifications
In her first visit itself Priya received a generic South Indian Modified Diet which helps to orient her dietary habits to help boost metabolism and balance the underlying hormonal imbalances, especially insulin imbalance. Also, the diet was designed to meet nutritional requirements e.g. boosting intake of zinc and other micro-minerals beneficial in PCOS. Attention to intake of unrefined local grains was given. Boosting intake of fruits and vegetables was also skillfully incorporated in her diet. The diet was designed in a way that it was practical and sustainable for a working lady like Priya. Also, the eating habits of her family were taken into consideration. The diet was given in such a way that she was still eating from the family pot, but much healthier.
Step 2: Ayurvedic Panchakarma
Once Priya’s metabolism started improving, she was prescribed “Virechana’, an Ayurvedic Panchakarma which detoxifies the body via medically induced purgation. Virechana for Priya was going to be a three week long process and was carefully planned in a way that she did not have any long distance travel plans during and immediately after Panchakarma. Also, the schedule was designed to accommodate the major day of detox on weekend. This way Priya could undergo the entire process without taking any leaves from work.She was given specialized diet consisting of Sattvik foods which help both mind and body to detoxify.
The entire Virechana therapy was customized to suit her health issues. Our team carefully monitored each and every aspect of Priya’s health during the detox process to ensure utmost care and precision during the whole treatment. Naturally, Priya sailed through her treatment and underwent a very successful Virechana.
Step 3: Ayurvedic medications Post Detox
Once Priya completed Virechana, prescription Ayurvedic medicines were given to enhance fertility and maintain hormonal balance.
Success of Panchakarma!
Priya underwent Virechana treatment in the month of July. In the Month of August, for the first time without any medicine to induce menstruation, she started having spotting. Although flow was very scanty, this was indeed very encouraging! This was her body putting efforts to balance hormones as opposed to artificial hormone laden medicine forcing her body to menstruate. She continued to have spotting for 3-4 days in the months of September and October as well. As a standard protocol, we repeated her Pelvic ultrasound in the month of November to check for the status of her ovaries. I was extremely delighted to see that the cysts in her ovaries had disappeared and were replaced with healthy growing follicles. Her endometrium was healthy and growing well too. No endometrial hyperplasia- overgrown endometrium was seen despite the scanty periods. In December 2019 Priya had a normal period with good flow which boosted her confidence ten folds as she could now see visible results to the treatment she had undergone.
Priya and husband were elated beyond measure to see the reports! She is still following a very healthy diet plan , a strict Yoga and exercise routine to maintain the results they achieved with Panchakarma. They are now one step closer to having a family of their own!
There are many patients like Priya who have overcome PCOS with the help of Ayurveda. I hope this article helps to light the path for many more women!!
Priya’s Ultrasound Report Before Treatment:
Priya’s Ultrasound Reports After Treatment:
Nesar Yoga Foundation is the natural progression and addition to the services of Ayushya Ayurcare. We are glad to announce the opening of our new Yoga Studio in Malleshwaram West -Bangalore (above Cars24.com) which will compliment and provide authentic Yoga classes and Certified Yoga Teacher’s training to provide long term health benefits to our students and patients alike.
Ayurveda and Yoga go hand in hand to provide complete healthcare to our patients.
Please visit Nesar (meaning Morning Sun in Kannada) Yoga for Therapy Yoga for the following diseases:
- Thyroid Disorders
- Stress Related Disorders
- Respiratory Allergies
- Yoga for Pain Management in
- Osteo- Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Gouty Arthritis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Cervical Spondylosis
- Lumbar Spondylosis
- Frozen shoulder
Pomegranate is a truly magical fruit! It is not surprising why ancient cultures celebrated this fruit as a divine fruit, a symbol of fertility, life, immortality of soul, eternal life, prosperity and so on! Some of the most effective remedies come from simple observations in nature surrounding us and logical thinking! Pomegranate is one such remedy especially in PCOS.
Observe and understand nature!
Technology and overload of information blunts our intelligence and natural instinct
s. Instinctual thinking is the key to self- healing. Remember that human race survived many adversities on earth and excelled merely by empowering their intelligence with observation, logic and instincts! Ancient systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine developed based on keen observation of nature. Pomegranate is one of the best gifts of nature to explain how power of observation and instincts can help us.
Pomegranate in PCOS:
The shape of pomegranate and internal structure has been compared with that of ovaries. A round structure with tightly packed seeds represents ovaries packed with follicles. This seemingly no-brainer observation is so spot- on! Hence, it has been logically used for disorders pertaining to ovaries and female fertility!
3 ways to use Pomegranate in PCOS:
- Ruby red goodness:
How to use?
Snack on the ruby red pomegranate seeds or toss them in salads as often as possible. Freshly expressed juice of pomegranate every morning on empty stomach is also extremely beneficial in PCOS.
The rich antioxidant and potassium content of pomegranate helps to improve hormonal balance and boosts fertility. It helps in reducing the incidence of acne by reducing male hormone testosterone.
- Pomegranate Peel:
Photo Courtesy: CuraAyurveda
How to use?
Half teaspoon organic pomegranate peel powder should be taken along with aloe-vera juice.
Pomegranate peel powder is extremely rich in anti-oxidants. It helps in reducing excessive or prolonged bleeding triggered by PCOS. Also, it can help in reduce high levels of cholesterol in women with chronic PCOS. Regular intake can also help weight loss.
- Pomegranate seed oil:
How to use?
Apply 2 drops to freshly washed face every night.
Pomegranate seed oil reduces skin damage in PCOS, reduces acne and spots and balances oil on the skin. It completely rejuvenates skin which suffers the most damage in PCOS.
Pomegranate is one such fruit which gives an all rounded solution for many issues related to PCOS. With its rich nutrient profile this fruit must be a part of your PCOS diet.
The perpetual dilemma of what works and what doesn’t when you have PCOS, is the mother of all dilemmas! When it comes to what sweetener helps PCOS without compromising your insulin sensitivity, there are a host of opinions. Right from aspartame to agave the debate on choice of sweetener is intense. Then there is jaggery! Humble, low profile, related to nasty refined sugar; yet amazingly healthy! If sugar is the evil step sister, jaggery is like Cinderella!
Jaggery is solidified or amorphous form of unrefined and un-distilled sugarcane juice. Jaggery is also made from date palm and coconut sap. This super-food sweetener has high alkaline mineral content which makes it extremely beneficial not just for PCOS but for overall health. Research studies show that jaggery helps us fight the damaging free radicals (harmful chemicals produced in our own body which damage our cells) due to it’s high anti-oxidant content and protects our cells. Also, studies show that regular use of jaggery also helps our body cope with air pollution or poor quality of air and protects our lungs form toxicity.
5 ways to use jaggery in PCOS:
Thinking about jaggery only from the glycemic index perspective is a little narrow minded approach to this subject (Glycemic index is the measure of how much sugar any food releases in blood after consumption). Jaggery in PCOS helps myriad health issues aprat from being a much healthier option to refined sugar. However, giving due respect to insulin resistance (imbalance of insulin i.e. reduced ability of our cells to process insulin); moderation has to practiced while using jaggery in PCOS.
- Constipation: Constipation is one of the most common issues faced by women with PCOS. Having 1/2 tsp. jaggery mixed with warm water at bedtime helps to soften stools and relieves constipation.
- Acidity: Jaggery is alkaline in nature. That is, its effect n our body after we consume is alkalizing. Acidity, bloating and stomach irritation is yet another pet peeve of PCOS. 1/4th tsp. jaggery with 1tsp. fennel seeds helps reduce bloating and acidity.
- Sleep: Poor sleep quality i.e. difficulty in either falling asleep or staying asleep top the chart amongst discomforts of having PCOS. 1/4th tsp. of jaggery with 2-3 strands of saffron in a glass of hot organic milk helps to relax the mid and promotes good sleep.
- Anemia: Low hemoglobin levels tend to be common in PCOS. Anemia resulting from this not only makes you more tired and frustrated, it also aggravates the hair loss situation. Hair loss is often triggered by the excess male hormones (i.e. hyperandrogenism) in PCOS. Lack of adequate hemoglobin and iron levels in blood make hair loss worse often leading to balding in women. Jaggery is rich source of iron and supplements natural iron which mush easier to absorb as compared to iron pills. Also, most iron pills trigger constipation and jaggery doesn’t.
- Period irregularity: Having a tsp. of jaggery with a tsp. of black sesame seeds is a traditional remedy in India for delayed periods. This remedy is often given to young girls art menarche to help regularize their cycles. Having jaggery and black sesame seeds first thing in the morning helps with period regularity. Also, sesame seeds are rich source of natural calcium and iron. This combination helps strengthen bones and teeth; boosts hair growth and promotes hormonal balance.
Tips to buy jaggery:
- Color: Darker the jaggery, better it is! Deep brown color in sugarcane jaggery is what we should
- Smell: If you can, try and smell the jaggery. Good jaggery has a faint smell of iron.
- Taste: Good unrefined jaggery has a noticeable taste of iron.