Painful menstruation, referred to as dysmenorrhea by doctors, is one of the commonest health problems from which women suffer. As many as 90% of women experience this problem at some stage in their life. For over 10% of females the problem is so severe that they are unable to function normally while menstruating.
This problem translates into millions of dollars of lost wages and productivity as well as a significant decrease in women’s quality of life for several days each month. One medical textbook estimated that painful periods cause the loss of over 140 million work hours each year in the United States. At the same time billions of dollars are spent on ‘pain killing’ drugs which do nothing to address the underlying cause of the pain.
In my view, dysmenorrhoea is in most cases a lifestyle related disorder having to do with nutritional, hormonal and emotional imbalances. In a minority of cases it may be the result of other medical conditions, like pelvic inflammation, infection, fibroids and endometriosis, in which event those underlying problems should be treated. For the majority of sufferers, here is a natural approach.
Good nutrition at a cellular level gives your body the nutrients it needs to correct and heal imbalances and prevent inflammation and cramps.
* Choose a diet high in fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grain, beans, peas, nuts and fish. Avoid foods that may contain hormones.
Drastically reduce or eliminate dairy products, meat, fried foods and other unhealthy fats, sugar, alcohol, added salt, MSG and other food additives,
I recommend a nutritional program called the Cellular Nutrition Program, which provides all the key nutritional elements in a simple combination.
In addition to the general nutritional recommendations above, there are specific supplements that relieve cramps and prevent inflammation in a healthy, effective, natural way:
The muscle relaxant herb Dong Quai or angelica sinensis, has been used for thousands of years to prevent and relieve menstrual cramps. I use it combined with the calming relaxing herb chamomile. It is most effective if taken throughout the month and the dosage increased just before and during the period. This combination is also a good general herbal tonic for females.
Fish oil supplements that contain generous quantities of omega 3 fatty acids have natural anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Unfortunately, our diet tends to have excess of omega 6 fats, which encourages the cramps and menstrual pains. Heavy dosages of omega 3 capsules may be needed to correct the imbalance.
Magnesium supplements have powerful muscle relaxant and cramp inhibiting properties. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a useful way to apply magnesium to the pelvic area.
Mild diuretic herbs like celery, parsley, dandelion, sarsaparilla and uva ursi are useful in relieving the bloating, fluid retention and congestion some women experience.
Ginger and ginkgo biloba will improve the circulation in the pelvic area and relieve nausea and vomiting.
Individuals who have uterine fibroids may benefit from the use of castor oil packs. This novel therapy is covered in my book on women’s’ health.
Cleansing the body, particularly colon cleansing, is an important aspect of the program. Any congestion in the pelvic area will exaggerate menstrual pains. I recommend a high fiber diet along with fiber supplements, aloe vera and herbal cleansers. Colon irrigation therapy by a trained colon therapist can also be very effective.
RELAXATION AND STRESS MANAGEMENT
Painful periods are often a body/mind disorder. The condition is made worse by anxiety, fear, depression and stress. Your social conditioning and beliefs are also extremely important. . Researchers have found that women who grew up in a household with women who had painful periods are much more likely to have painful periods themselves. Relaxation and stress management techniques and hypnosis can be extremely effective interventions. Aromatherapy also offers essential oils like lavender that relax and relieve stress and tension.
Exercise promotes pain relief and prevents cramps because of its physical, psychological and hormonal benefits. I particularly extol the benefits of yoga with its emphasis on deep breathing, tension relief, muscle relaxation and body awareness.
An imbalance between the main female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone can cause painful periods and severe bouts of Premenstrual Syndrome. Natural hormone balancing with natural progesterone cream under a doctor’s supervision can be very helpful along with the herb Dong Quai.
So instead of just popping pain tablets each month, consider using the approach outlined above and help your body balance and heal itself.