Ancient Science of Life

: 2012  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 120--122

Jeevani: Ayurveda for Women

Anita Mahapatra 
 Research Faculty, Department of Basic Research, AVP Research Foundation, the Research Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Anita Mahapatra
Research Faculty, Department of Basic Research, AVP Research Foundation, the Research Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Mahapatra A. Jeevani: Ayurveda for Women.Ancient Sci Life 2012;32:120-122

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Mahapatra A. Jeevani: Ayurveda for Women. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2012 [cited 2023 Mar 27 ];32:120-122
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Author: Dr. P. L. T. Girija Year: April 2013 Pages: 234. Price: Rs. 400/- ISBN: 81-901737-0-8 Binding: Hard Bound Publisher: Sanjeevani Ayurveda Foundation, Chennai

Jeevani-Ayurveda for Women is a very welcome publication by Dr. PLT Girija, who is an accomplished practitioner of Ayurveda herself. In this book Dr. Girija speaks from conviction born out of her personal experience as a physician who has successfully dealt with gynecological diseases and obstetric cases.

After providing a brief introduction to Ayurveda in the first section, the book goes on to focus on women's health. Menstruation and associated disorders are dealt with before discussion on pregnancy and care of the pregnant woman. The Ayurvedic approach in managing menstrual disorders is explained in a lucid manner. The most common formulations and herbs used are briefed and the meanings of rituals associated with menstruation have been demystified.

These discussions are interspersed with case summaries which links the concepts and theories with actual experiences. In many conditions, the scope of Ayurveda is very clearly explained. For example, in the case of uterine prolapse, it is established firmly that Ayurveda can manage the condition without surgery.

The possibility of Ayurvedic contraception has been hinted at, but no further details have been provided which leaves the curiosity of the reader unquenched.

Conception is explained nicely from an Ayurvedic perspective. Treatment of infertility is explained with the help of case studies. Thereafter pregnancy is dealt with in a systematic manner emphasizing the importance of balanced nutrition during the pregnancy from an Ayurvedic point of view. Monthly diet supplements have been explained detailing the methods of making them at home. The most important herbs to be used by the pregnant woman during the gestation have been highlighted with sub-headings. Care has been taken to give even the minute details regarding use of substances like honey. The strange desires of women during gestation and its significance have been explained from the Ayurvedic perspective.

The mention of drug kit of 50 drugs from Ayurveda and Siddha is very interesting, which also contained a set of medicines for pregnancy and post-delivery care. This was distributed by the Tamil Nadu Government.

The rationale behind the special diet to be adopted during pregnancy has also been explained.

Common complications associated with pregnancy have also been discussed adequately. For example anemia, bleeding, abortion, prolonged gestation and so on are described with line of treatment. Exercises and yoga postures advised in pregnancy have also been mentioned.

The chapter on labor and childbirth is very interesting because it brings a new perspective to the process of child birth which happens in modern hospital settings majority of the time. Herbal medicines for inducing labor are highlighted and the fact that these are used in actual practice in the clinic of the author lends authenticity to the procedures described. There are a few pictures, which though of poor quality gives a real world feel to the process of child birth described from the Ayurvedic viewpoint.

A small chapter pays a glowing tribute to Dais, the wet nurses who delivered children in India for centuries. The chapter ends by pointing out that the belief that Dais was responsible for high infant mortality rate in India is not true.

After highlighting the strengths of Ayurveda, the author goes on to critically appraise the modern obstetric practices. She minces no words in criticizing episiotomy and amniotomy. She points out how the practice of episiotomy has declined in the West. The modern obstetric practice of cutting the umbilical cord immediately after delivery is also brought under the scanner.

Dr. Girija points out that the large number of asphyxial deaths of infants could be attributed to the administration of analgesics to the mother for relief from pain.

The experiences of the author in implementing Ayurvedic methods of pregnancy care and child birth is very enlightening. Training programs for Village Health Nurses created occasion for healthy interaction between them and the Dais. In this chapter the salient features of the Ayurvedic approach to delivery has been summarized beautifully.

Post-delivery care has been discussed with details of medications and diet to be followed and especially what happens to the body of the woman after child birth.

Apart from the critique on episiotomy, amniotomy, etc., the author devotes one full chapter to point her finger at the practice of caesarean deliveries. The disadvantages and dangers inherent in caesarean section have been elaborately discussed. She points out the irony that Kerala, the land of Ayurveda has achieved 100% institutional deliveries, but at the same time has the highest rate of caesarean deliveries in India at 30%.

Several striking case studies of child birth are discussed in the ensuing chapter which impressively demonstrates the scope of Ayurvedic interventions in child birth.

Breast milk is then discussed in detail and Ayurvedic methods to enhance both the quantity and quality of breast milk have been detailed. Herbs to increase breast milk have been listed with photographs.

In Ayurveda Gynecology, Obstetrics and Pediatrics go hand in hand. After discussions on pregnancy and child birth, the book gives attention to the care of the new born child. Common diseases affecting children have been discussed with the principles of treatment.

The next section of the book deals with general principles of Ayurveda. This section is titled as “Ayurveda for Healthy Life”. Principles of nutrition, Rules of Diet, tips regarding intake of water, common spices and vegetables used in the Indian kitchen and their medicinal properties are also discussed.

An attempt has also been made to elucidate the concept of doshas, their dynamic fluctuations and how daily regimen and seasonal routine has to be adopted to keep them in balance.

One chapter deals with Panchakarma. Interestingly, the author lists bloodletting as one of the Panchakarmas, whereas some physicians prefer not to do this. According to them, bloodletting is one of the Panchsodhanas or five methods of purification, and in Panchakarma, we have unctuous enema (sneha vasti) instead of bloodletting.

Some of the common medicines that can be used as first aid at home are of much value. However, some recommendations raise concern. For example, triphala has been advised for constipation without any warning that excessive usage may cause erosion of mucosa in the intestines, which has been clinically reported by patients.

Appendix 1 is a valuable section of the book that deals with the Paradox of Anemia. Here the author points out the great potential for Ayurveda in the effective management of anemia, which is a major health problem for both mothers and children.

Appendix 2 is a myth buster and attempts to demonstrate that administration of medicated ghee according to the principles of Ayurveda does not increase cholesterol, but rather regulates and normalizes it.

The glossary and index at the end of the book is very helpful for easy navigation. As if to compensate for the rather poor quality of the gray scale photographs in the main text, the book ends with multicolor photographs of selected plants in art paper.

This book is no doubt an eye-opener to the laity as well as professionals about the vast scope of Ayurveda in management of women's health, child birth as well as pediatrics. This first edition is not without scope for fine tuning and improvement in content. One gets the feeling that in many instances, little more details are necessary. At times the description of the formulations tends to be very general and does not fully explain the context and relevance of its use.

To conclude, it can be said that this book is a good example of the blending of Shruti (textual tradition), Yukti (the insights of the physician) and Anubhava (practical experience and wisdom) that has been fairly well articulated to convey the richness of the Ayurvedic tradition in the field of gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics.