Period pain is a painful reality for 90% of women yet few seek health advice thinking it is normal. It is not normal, infact it tells us you have a hormonal imbalance.
Period pain is not something you have to put up with, lifestyle and dietary changes, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies can help!
What is period pain?
Natural inflammatory chemicals released by the body trigger contractions of the uterus, constriction of blood flow to the area and an increased sensitivity of nerve endings cause pain.
What is period pain caused by?
A number of factors can add to the likelihood of you suffering from period pain.
- Being overweight or obese, that’s 1 out of 2 of our female population.
- If you experience heavy periods you’re more likely to suffer.
- Lack of exercise and a sedentary job.
- Daily alcoholic drinks, binge drinkers and smokers.
- A diet of processed food and too few vegetables.
- If you suffer from depression, anxiety, loneliness or distress for any reason you’re more likely to suffer.
- Insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome (induced by being over weight).
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids and polyps.
- Congenital outflow obstruction.
- Endometriosis or polycystic ovarian disease.
Now for the good news!
The good news is that lifestyle modifications, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies offer a return of hormonal balance and wellness. Diet, sleep, exercise and weight loss (if needed) are the first steps to reducing period pain and re-establishing hormonal harmony. Ultimately the steps below lay the foundation for prevention of oestrogen hormonal imbalance that often starts before puberty.
- Look after your liver: Reduce alcohol to 1-2 drinks per week. A sluggish liver will exacerbate hormonal imbalance and increase oestrogen levels leading to fluid retention and heavier menstrual flow. Ultimately this lays the foundation for preventing or causing oestrogen induced cancer of the breast, uterus and cervix.
- Increase vegetables and fruit: 6-8 portions of colourful vegetables and 2-3 of fresh fruit per day.
- Cut down on meat: This may increase inflammatory prostaglandins. Burnt meat, and cured processed meats are carcinogenic!
- Modify your wheat and dairy: It is amazing how many conditions improve on a wheat-free and dairy-free diet.
- Increase those good oils: A variety of unsalted and untoasted nuts and seeds, best soaked to activate their life force, plus quality fish oils and evening primrose oil are all anti-inflammatory. Extra virgin olive oil is very healthy.
- Detoxification: Consume detoxifying and alkalising foods including dandelion coffee, lemon juice in water and bitter greens including endive, dandelion leaves, chicory, rocket and all vegetables.
- Exercise: Moderate exercise four times a week is strengthening and detoxifying. It promotes circulation and oxygenation to the cells, while you also “burn off” elevated stress hormones and stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Water: Drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of purified water per day. This ensures toxins are continually flushed from the body.
- Sleep: Most of us need approximately 8 hours beginning before 11pm, especially those who have regularly disturbed nights.
Nutritional supplements and natural remedies.
- Fish oil: Anti-inflammatory. 3000mg per day.
- Magnesium: For ‘relaxing’ muscles and levels of prostaglandins that create pain. A magnesium citrate is one of the best forms.
- B vitamins: Including B6 and niacin are useful for PMT, fluid retention. They support the stress hormones and energy levels.
- Liquid Herbs: Specifically mixed these can address pain directly at the time of menstruation and another mixture will treat the underlying hormonal imbalance, stress reactions, liver function, and general health. Some herbal remedies that your herbalist may prescribe include:
- Cramp bark: The name alone suggests its valuable role in assisting with period pain.
- Ginger: A warming herb appears to have a prostaglandin-inhibiting effect which contributes to its pain relieving and anti nausea qualities.
- Cinnamon: Another warning herb good for period pain due to ‘stagnancy’, which is often characterized by dark clots in the menstrual fluid. Cinnamon is also used for stabilising blood sugar levels.
- Bupleurum: The anti-inflammatory properties and also has a beneficial effect on the liver. Traditionally, bupleurum used for menstrual troubles arising from stress and worry.
- Dong quai: Reduces uterine spasm, reduce pelvic congestion and pain.
- Kava: Pain relieving and antispasmodic, this herb is therefore generally relaxing.
The best herbal prescription will be made by a qualified herbalist or naturopath and individualised to your symptoms. They may also use other herbs to treat the underlying conditions including those of endometriosis, PCOS, weight issues and insulin sensitivity.
If you’re suffering from period pain, let one of our herbalists offer you relief, call in and have a chat, or phone us: 03 5468611