What Do Lunar Cycles Have to Do with Health?

What Do Lunar Cycles Have to Do with Health?
Ever had trouble sleeping during a full moon?
We’ve got news for you - the moon influences more than just ocean tides! Learn the reasons for your moonlight insomnia as well as all the other ways lunar cycles affect you and your health.
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The Moon, the Tides, and You

The moon’s gravitational pull is the primary force behind the ebb and flow of tides. Ayurveda teaches that this same gravitational force affects all living organisms, including humans. Just as the moon governs the tides, it is believed to influence the water content within our bodies, which makes up a around 60% of our total body weight.

This leads us to a fundamental principle: we are not separate from nature; we are part of it. Thus, the cycles of the moon mirror the cycles and rhythms within our own bodies.

Water is essential for all life processes. In humans, it plays a critical role in maintaining cellular function, regulating temperature, transporting nutrients, and eliminating waste. Ayurveda suggests that lunar cycles influence the water on the planet as well as the fluids within our bodies. Here are some ways this connection manifests itself:

  • Hydration Levels: The phases of the moon are thought to affect the distribution and movement of bodily fluids. During the full moon, for instance, there may be an increase in fluid retention, leading to sensations of bloating or swelling. Try paying attention to hydration during different lunar phases to maintain optimal fluid balance.
  • Detoxification: The waning moon phase, when the gravitational pull decreases, is believed to support the body’s natural detoxification processes. This is an ideal time for Ayurvedic cleansing practices such as fasting, consuming detoxifying teas, and engaging in activities that promote sweating and the release of toxins.
  • Emotional Fluctuations: The high water content in the brain and body fluids might make human emotions susceptible to lunar influences. Just as the tides are highest during the full moon, emotional tides can also rise, leading to heightened states of mood and behavior. Ayurveda recommends mindfulness practices, meditation, and calming rituals during the full moon to calm emotional turbulence.
  • Mental Clarity and Focus: Conversely, the new moon and waxing phases are associated with growth and renewal. This period is considered conducive to setting intentions, starting new projects, and engaging in activities that require mental clarity and focus. Harness this energy by pursuing creative outlets.
    • Tap into your creativity by starting a writing ritual for peace of mind.
  • Biological Clocks: Just as the moon influences the Earth's tides, it also impacts our biological clocks. Our bodies are governed by circadian rhythms (24-hour cycles) and ultradian rhythms (shorter cycles), which regulate sleep, digestion, hormonal secretions, and other vital functions. Disruptions in these rhythms, often due to lifestyle choices misaligned with natural cycles, can lead to health issues.
  • Sleep Patterns: Many people report changes in sleep patterns during different moon phases, with the full moon usually associated with lighter, more restless sleep. Moonlight can also influence production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Ayurveda suggests creating a calming bedtime routine and reducing exposure to artificial light during these times to support better sleep.
  • Menstrual Cycle: The female menstrual cycle, sometimes called the "moon cycle," roughly aligns with the lunar month. Ayurveda and traditional practices recognize the synchrony between the moon's phases and hormonal fluctuations, and offer specific dietary and lifestyle recommendations to support women’s health throughout their cycle.
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Sync Up with Lunar Cycles

The lunar cycle, spanning approximately 29.5 days, comprises several distinct phases: the new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon. Each phase is believed to influence different aspects of nature and, by extension, human health.

Ayurvedic practitioners observe the lunar cycles to understand and predict changes in the body's doshas (the three vital energies: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). The moon’s phases are believed to correlate with the balance or imbalance of these doshas.

New Moon and Waxing Moon

During the new moon, the moon is not visible from Earth, symbolizing new beginnings and rejuvenation. As the moon transitions from new to full (waxing phase), it gradually increases in brightness and gravitational influence. Ayurveda suggests that the waxing moon enhances Kapha dosha, associated with growth, nourishment, and stability.

Health Impact:

  • Energy and Strength: Ayurveda suggests that the waxing moon phase is an ideal time to focus on activities that build energy and vitality. This is a period for nourishing the body with wholesome, nutrient-rich foods that support growth and repair.
  • Emotional Renewal: The new moon phase is also seen as a time for emotional renewal. Practices such as meditation, setting intentions, and engaging in creative endeavors are believed to be beneficial.

Full Moon

The full moon, when the moon is fully illuminated, is often associated with heightened energy and emotional intensity. The Pitta dosha is thought to be influenced the most during this phase. The moon’s gravitational pull is at its strongest, which can have noticeable effects on both nature and human behavior.

Health Impact:

  • Energy and Emotions: Many people report experiencing higher energy levels and emotional fluctuations during the full moon. Try balancing this intense energy by engaging in calming activities, practicing cooling breathing techniques, and consuming cooling foods such as cucumbers, melons, and leafy greens.
  • Intuition and Clarity: The full moon is also thought to enhance intuition and mental clarity, making it a great time for introspection and spiritual practices.

Waning Moon

As the moon moves from full to new (waning phase), its light diminishes, symbolizing a period of release and letting go - often associated with the Vata dosha.

Health Impact:

  • Detoxing and Cleansing: The waning moon phase is the best time for detoxing and cleansing. Ayurveda recommends lighter diets, fasting, and engaging in practices that support the body's natural elimination processes, such as drinking herbal teas and engaging in gentle exercises like yoga.
  • Emotional Release: This phase is also seen as a time for an emotional detox. Letting go of negative thoughts and feelings, forgiving, and decluttering one's physical and mental space can promote overall well-being.

What Does Western Science Say?

There is still a lot to unravel when it comes to the moon's influence on human health. However, there are several studies and anecdotal observations that suggest a connection.

For example, research has shown variations in sleep patterns during different phases of the moon, with some people experiencing more disturbances during the full moon. Scientists report that, based on study participants across the world, sleep cycles correlate with the 29.5 day lunar cycle [1].

Psychiatric wards and emergency rooms have also reported fluctuations in activity that some healthcare professionals connect with lunar cycles. More research is needed in this area to determine true correlation [2].

Anecdotal evidence from various cultures and historical records also supports the idea that the moon affects human behavior and health. Farmers have long relied on lunar phases to guide planting and harvesting, aligning agricultural practices with natural rhythms believed to promote better yields.

There is a lot we don’t yet know about the universe, and there is still so much more to be learned about lunar cycles and how it relates to health.

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