Many women are affected by pain and other symptoms associated with menstruation at some point in their life. For some women, the pain can be so intense that it interferes with the daily function of normal life, severe cases of painful periods are known as Dysmenorrhea. During menstruation, your uterus contracts to shed its lining in a process that’s triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. (and its this shedding of the uterus that causes the pain and discomfort you feel)
Prostaglandins are associated with both pain and inflammation, and higher levels of these substances are linked to more severe menstrual cramps. Spasms and cramps are usually the main symptoms, coming in wave-like sensations located in the lower abdomen, lower back, and pelvic area.
The pain is often accompanied by:
- Breast Tenderness
- Headaches, Dizziness or fainting
- Vomiting and Diarrhea/ constipation
- Exhaustion Lethargy
Holistic Options for Healthy Menstruation
Thankfully, there is a lot of “Women’s Wisdom” to draw from by women who have come before us, and not to mention a plethora of research on natural remedies and methods used to help reduce menstrual pain and discomfort which afflicts so many of us. Here are some holistic suggestions that many women have found useful and hopefully you will too. Remembering that we are more than just the sum of our parts, we are an entire biological system, therefore by embracing natural solutions, you will be looking after your ‘whole self’. Natural therapies offer more than a quick fix, not like over the counter painkillers, that we have become accustomed to using for the sake of convenience.
NOTE: Please check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.
1. Smart Supplements
In a perfect world, we should all be getting our nutrients from our diet, proper hydration and adequate Vitamin D from the Sun. Since this is seldom the case, supplements can sometimes be helpful!
Maca – Now this little hormone-boosting tuber (root vegetable) is from the radish family, and has had a successful and long relationship with the women of Peru. Women who supplement with Maca often find a decrease in PMT symptoms, improvements in fertility, better-looking skin and hair, Maca is a wonderful source of essential fatty acids, and this is one of the ways it supports hormone balance. Do not use Maca during pregnancy.
Magnesium – Is essential for numerous functions within our bodies and many of us are deficient in this important mineral. Increasing magnesium is one very effective way of treating menstrual cramps, as well as other types of menstrual-related pain, including headaches and nausea. There are several different ways to get Magnesium: Available in powder, capsule or liquid form. Applying magnesium topically can be very effective for those with sensitive digestive systems.
Vitamin D & Omega-3s – Are supportive of hormone functions within the body, obviously Vitamin D is best obtained from the sun if possible, otherwise, if you are deficient, D3 or Cod liver oil make a great supplement. Vitamin D not only helps to decrease the production of prostaglandins, it also helps decrease the production of cytokines, which promote inflammation in your body. Don’t forget to include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Evening Primrose Oil – Consists of essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is helpful in treating pain, which can contribute to PMT symptoms.
DIM (diindolylmethane) DIM is a natural phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It has unique features that allow it to change the metabolism of estrogen, promoting optimal estrogen balance and supporting healthy progesterone and testosterone production. The severity of PMT symptoms in women has been linked to elevated estrogen, with symptoms becoming more severe as estrogen rises. DIM exerts a balancing effect on hormones and may benefit conditions like PMT, which are associated with estrogen-progesterone imbalance.
2. Nourish Dietary changes can work extremely well when trying to relieve cramping and other PMT symptoms. TRY:
- Avoiding caffeine – caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, these drinks can increase levels of tension and anxiety, avoid alcohol, and carbonated drinks too.
- Reducing your sugar intake – avoid refined sugars, which are known to increase inflammatory chemicals in the body.
- Avoid Dairy – dairy products like milk and cheese can be congesting to the body and trigger cramps. Look for other sources of calcium, like fresh broccoli.
- Keep away from inflammatory foods such as smoked cheeses, smoked meats, and smoked fish (they can increase your fluid retention)
- Making sure you’re getting enough nourishment from your diet, specifically vitamin B6, manganese, vitamins A and E, calcium, magnesium (see above) omega-3 fats and tryptophan.
- Important to stay well hydrated!
3. Nature – Being in Nature is very empowering, our cycle is directly connected with Mother Nature, and she will nurture, inspire and invigorate you. Be with her, rest with her, ground with her and admire her in all her natural beauty.
4. Exercise – If you have a hormone imbalance, intense exercise can actually exacerbate the issue in the short term. Moderate exercise can help to relieve menstrual cramps probably because it raises levels of endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that are associated with pain relief. Focusing on relaxing exercises like walking or swimming. Personally, I’m a yoga fan, which can be gentle and has additional health benefits.
5. Aromatherapy, Massage and Heat Compress Gently massage castor oil clockwise into your abdomen and apply a heat compress or hot water bottle.
Essential oils for Massage (add 5 to 10 drops into 30mls of base massage oil)
Dysmenorrhoea – Lavender, Sage, Peppermint, Geranium, Chamomile
Spasmodic pain – Cypress, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Lavender
Stressful, congestive pain – Chamomile, Clary-Sage, Thyme
Menorrhagia (heavy bleeding) – Lemon, Geranium, Chamomile
Amenorrhoea (absent period) – Fennel, Clary-Sage, Cypress, Geranium
6. Sleep Well In general, we know that getting enough sleep is essential to good health, But, its especially so during your moon cycle. Typical pre-menstrual and menstrual issues—such as headaches, cramping, bloating, and anxiety—can prevent a restful night’s sleep for somewhat obvious reasons: Pain and discomfort make it difficult to sleep well. This unfortunate pattern leaves many women tired and uncomfortable in the days before and in the days during their monthly periods. To help minimize many of these issues try adhering to the good habits mentioned above as well as keeping your bedroom adequately ventilated, as dark as possible, remove computers, laptops, digital clocks etc, try using Bach’s Sleep Remedy, or herbal teas such as Passionflower or Valerian.
7. Enjoy being a woman!
- Surround yourself with the things you love, flowers, essential oils, incense
- Put on your favorite music; wear your favorite feminine dress.
- Practice by generating positive, loving thoughts about yourself</span
- Treat yourself with extra care and tenderness
- Be kind to yourself in thoughts, words, and actions.
- Above all enjoy being a Woman
And most importantly don’t forget to stock up on your favourite silky, smooth personal lubricant Sylk at our online store https://sylk.com.au/shop/
Liza – Naturopath