In certain parts of Ghana and the Ivory Coast, it is common to find women on their periods gathered in a party like atmosphere while relaxing under beautiful umbrellas, receiving gifts and praises.
When you zoom in on America, however, women on their periods are going hysterical, driving to the pharmacy to stock up on tampons, Tylenol, and ice cream as preparation for the menstrual hurricane ahead.
Thankfully I’m here to give you great news!
It’s time to drop the box of tissues because you are officially about to learn how to end your menstrual torment and make your period an enjoyable experience.
What are Cramps?
Cramps are strong contractions of the uterus as they are triggered by a chemical called prostaglandin, commonly associated with inflammation and pain. Cramps usually start when a woman begins to ovulate regularly. It comes a day or two before the menstrual flow, though it can continue through the first 2 days of the period. The good news is that, generally, this pain gets better as a woman gets older, or after she has her first child.
Menstrual pain in some women, however, can be associated with other conditions such as:
- Inflammation of the uterine lining (endometriosis)
- Passage of tissue and blood through a narrow cervix
- Uterine fibroid
- Ovarian cysts
- Uterine infections
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Use of intrauterine devices
But here you will find out how you can naturally treat the pain without having to take harmful medications and sacrifice your overall health in the long run.
Natural Pain Relief for Cramps
Looks like this method will never get old. Since the heat has the ability to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow, pain dissipation comes as a consequence. A 2012 scientific study found the application of a heat patch at 104°F (40 C°) to be as effective as ibuprofen. If you don’t have a heat patch you can simply take a warm bath, or use a hot towel.
Essential Oil Massage
A study shows that 20 minutes of applying pressure on the right spots on your abdomen is enough to relieve menstrual pain in women with endometriosis (instantly as well as afterward). Here is a helpful how-to video below.
Whoopi & Maya Medicinal Cannabis Products
So Whoopi Goldberg got together with cannabis industry leader Maya and created a line of products (balm, bath soaks, chocolate and tinctures) that targets menstrual pain relief in women. The reviews are nothing less than incredible. Not only are these products relieving menstrual pain, mood swings, and PCOS, but they are also relieving other types of pain such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, insomnia and other chronic conditions. The downside here is that you can only purchase these products with a medical card or in states where recreational marijuana is legal.
This is a practice that is recommended by the National Institute of Health. An acupuncturist assesses the deficiencies or excessive energies in the patient’s meridians (the path through which life-energy “qi” travels throughout the body), then starts the needling in the respective spots. A study done on 43 women with dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) showed that the acupuncture treatment was effective at reducing the pain as well as the need for pain medications.
Some women find relief by attending chiropractor sessions. In a pilot study, it was found that pain perception and menstrual distress was reduced by two-fold.
Related: An Interview With a Chiropractor
Herbs for Menstrual Pain
Here are some effective herbs that you can try for your period cramps and see which best works for your body. They are usually available as pills, capsules, tablets, teas, tinctures, or liquid extracts (Mix the liquid extracts with your favorite drink).
- Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)
Take in form of tea. If you take diuretics or lithium consult with your doctor first.
- Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis)
Found to relieve PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) according to studies. Contraindicated for people who have a history of seizures.
- Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Can relieve menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Can be used for inflammation. People with gallstones or gallbladder problems should ask their doctor before using it.
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Can be used for nausea and weakness. Studies suggest that fennel can reduce the severity of symptoms.
Side note: If you have a history of hormone-related cancer or are taking hormone replacement therapy, have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medication, you should consult with your doctor before taking these.
Related Product: Shillington’s Female Balance Formula
Homeopaths like to prescribe these herbs and natural substances according to the patient’s constitutional type, emotional, physical makeup as well as other criteria:
- Belladonna/Deadly nightshade
Used in cases of sharp pain and throbbing pressure in the pelvic region along with heavy bleeding, as well as pain that extends towards lower back.
For menstrual pain with mood swings and irritability.
- Citrullus Colocynthis / Bitter apple
Used for sharp pains with anger outbursts and irritability.
- Magnesia Phosphorica
Used for cramps and sharp shooting pains that are relieved by bending forward or by warmth.
- Nux Vomica /Poison Nut
Can be used for cramping pains that extend to the lower back along with chills, irritability, nausea, sensitivity to light, noise, and odors.
- Pulsatilla /Pasqueflower
For menstrual pain with irritability, moodiness, dizziness, nausea, headache, back pain, fainting. Pain may be more intense without a menstrual flow.
Treating PMS and Mood Swings
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome and for some women, it comes with a giant ball of symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
No wonder some girls want to do at this time is crawl up into bed and ride out this storm in their own cozy space. But fear not, below you will find a quick period go-to guide. It will let you know what to do, as well as what not to do during this time. Keep in mind that if you are very health conscious, which I hope you are, you should follow the “Not To Do/Have List” always, and not solely on your period to achieve a high level of health/well-being.
What Not To Do/Have During Your Period
These contain fats that are capable of causing acute inflammation and mutations in your body – it’s moderate or high consumption can cause problems in the reproductive system such as endometriosis, PCOS, and cancer. That’s a no-no for sure.
Dairy has been found to congest the body and some doctors believe women who quit ingesting it completely can reduce their menstrual pain. I know you probably love ice cream, but there’s no need to worry. If you must have some, pick a vegan/dairy free ice cream instead and your body will thank you.
Red Meat or Egg Yolk
These both contain arachidonic acid which in many people can cause an increase in cellular inflammation, and let’s face it…you don’t need any more inflammation.
Dangerous Everyday Household Toxins
- Teflon (non-stick pans)
- Bug sprays/pesticides
- Conventional cleaning products
These substances are a lot more a lot more harmful than you think, as they disrupt your entire hormonal system. Try to at least stay away from them during your period so that you give your body a chance to heal and reorganize itself.
Side note: We must understand that if these foods and substances are harmful during your period, to the point where they are contributing to your physical pain every month, they aren’t good for any point and time.
What to Do During Your Period
Get Enough Sleep/Rest
When you don´t get enough sleep on a normal day, how do you feel?
Fatigued, moody, easily irritated and simply off, right?
Can you now begin to imagine the importance of sleep time during our periods? A deficiency in proper rest can contribute to the pain and discomfort during this time. Help your body help you by allowing it to have some much-needed rest and rejuvenation.
Move Your Body
Who here has heard of endorphins? Endorphins are neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure and well-being. Doing light aerobic exercise can release endorphins into your nervous system, which will help relieve pain.
Some great low-intensity exercises that you can do while you are on your period are:
- Having good sex (The orgasm leads to increased blood flow and contraction of the uterine muscles, giving you a double dose of endorphins.)
Eat the Fats Your Body Actually Likes
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Butter (unless you’re vegan)
These should be your new best friends. Coconut oil actually helps your body by boosting the production of healthy hormones, reducing inflammation, aiding in weight loss and it even fights fungi and harmful bacteria! This BFF won’t let you down as long as you remember to not overconsume it.
Eat More Brassica Veggies
- Brussels Sprouts
These contain carbon-3-inositol, helping to regulate estrogen activity as well as it eases bloating and discomfort during your menstruation.
Eat Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Fruits – sweet and exactly the kind of carbs you need to thrive. While processed sweets destroy your health, fruits and veggies are responsible for regaining it. Stick to having fruits (and no processed sugar) for dessert while you are on your period and see how you feel.
Take the Right Supplements
These can help to decrease inflammation. A couple of studies have found that women who took fish oil had less menstrual pain than those who took a placebo.
- Calcium citrate
This is the easiest form of calcium for the body to absorb. It is essential for healthy bones and can reduce menstrual pain as it helps to maintain proper muscle function and prevent cramps.
Related: Homemade Calcium and Magnesium
Important to help your body utilize calcium properly and may also reduce inflammation.
One study suggests that vitamin E is effective against period pain. In the study, 100 women were given a Vitamin E supplement or a placebo for 5 days. Those who took vitamin E reported less pain than those who took the placebo.
Preliminary studies show that magnesium may help reduce menstrual pain. It is important to note, however, that an excessive amount of magnesium can cause diarrhea as well as lower blood pressure. If you take prescribed or OTC medications (especially blood-thinners) or suffer from any disease, it’s important to check with a physician before supplementation.
The Importance of a Positive Outlook Towards your Period
In contrast to Native Americans, we tend to associate our periods with an illness or inconvenience. This is a side effect of the push for equality in our society, and especially in the workplace. We promised we are just as good as any man, and in return, they demanded our utmost and unfailing efficiency. So in other words, ” If you’re in pain or feeling moody, we don’t want any of it, you’re meant to be as efficient as a machine, stuff it down.” But there is a problem with that. By not listening to our bodies needs, it responds with pain, in hope that you will finally “listen”.
The truth is we are not men, and we are not simply women. We are bearers of life, and we must be recognized as such in any place we find ourselves in, first and foremost by ourselves. So as crazy as this sounds, if we need more sleep, we should have it. If we don’t feel up to going to work, the best thing would be not to go. This will decrease much of the stress and agitation common to us women during our periods. Owning up to it will lead us to another outstanding victory.
A victory of self-love, power and of a painless period.
From now on, I hope you choose to fully accept the gift of life and renewal that your period brings every month to see your period transition from a burden to an enriching experience.
- Here Are 4 Cultures That Actually Respect Menstrual Cycles – Attn
- 10 Ways to Relieve Period Cramps – everyday HEALTH
- Home Remedies to Relieve Menstrual Pain – health line
- 9 Natural Menstrual Cramp Remedies That Will Totally Change Your Life…Period! – Organic Authority
- Natural Remedies for Painful Menstruation – NATURAL FERTILITY INFO
- Menstrual pain – UNIVERSITY of MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER
- A narrative review of medical, chiropractic, and alternative health practices in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea – PubMed.gov