A woman’s monthly cycle is often thought of as painful, and society today has accepted this as ‘normal’. Whilst it may be normal, I want to be clear that it isn’t healthy. Having pain at any point during your menstrual cycle is an indication that something is out of balance within your body. The good news is that painful periods (also called dysmenorrhea) can be fixed, and there are some wonderful home remedies that you can use safely to reduce pain at home whilst addressing the underlying imbalances with your Naturopath. Also, to be clear, if you have pain that is debilitating and interferes with your quality of life, please speak to your doctor about it. This isn’t the post for you if that is the case. With that said, let’s start today by looking at nutrition, and how various foods can exacerbate or ease period pain.
Foods and period pain
Nutrition plays a huge role in hormonal health, and therefore in the presentation of period pain. The dietary choices that we make can greatly increase levels of inflammation in the body, which in turn increases inflammatory compounds that are associated with pain. Some positive and sustainable changes that you can make to reduce inflammation through your diet include:
- Remove processed junk foods. These contain large amounts of vegetable oils, sugars, preservatives, artificial ingredients and often gluten and dairy too; all of which are inflammatory.
- Reduce caffeine. It acts as a vasoconstrictor, constricting blood vessels in your body. This can increase cramping during your period.
- Include foods that are known to reduce inflammation in the body. This includes adding a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits to your plate, as well as adding in foods that are high in healthy fats; nuts and seeds, olive oils, oily fish and avocados. Also spices such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are wonderful for reducing inflammation and pain levels in the body.
- Add in some raw or dark chocolate. Yes, you read that right! Real chocolate contains magnesium, which is wonderful for period cramps and pain.
- Gluten & dairy are both highly inflammatory foods. They are known to exacerbate hormonal complaints, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Talk to your Naturopath about your individual needs in regard to these 2 food groups, and what may be best for your individual body.
Tens stand for ‘transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation’ and is used as a method of pain relief. A Tens machine is a small machine that naturally stimulates nerves through small sticky pads called electrodes that are placed directly onto the skin where pain relief is needed. The electrical impulses are felt as a slight tingling and can help alleviate period pain through sensory nerve stimulation, which may help relax muscles and produce endorphins.
There are many anecdotal reports of Tens Machines being very helpful for period pain and also labour, as well as many other muscular pains in the body.
Ginger has long been known as a warming circulatory herb, which helps to move congestion. In a recent trial looking at the use of ginger for dysmenorrhoea, ginger was found to give a significant reduction in severity and duration of period pain. This is due to the way it reduces prostaglandins, which are compounds responsible for the pain. Ginger has also been known to help ease fatigue associated with menstruation, possibly due to its anti. Inflammatory effects.
You can make ginger tea at home by grating a thumb size piece of ginger into a cup of hot water and steeping for 5 minutes. Add some honey to taste and drink this 3 times daily during your bleed.
If you need something stronger, ginger can also be prescribed as part of a herbal tonic from your Naturopath.
Another way you can use ginger to relieve pain during your period is via a poultice. It gives the same warming anti-inflammatory benefits when applied topically to the pelvic area.
To make a ginger poultice:
Grate ½ cup of ginger and mix with boiling water to make a paste. Soak a clean cloth in boiling water, and then put the ginger paste in the middle of the cloth and fold it in half. Allow to cool a bit so it does not burn your skin, and then apply to your pelvic area. You can also add a heat pack or hot water bottle to your lower back at the same time for extra relief.
No post on natural period pain relief is complete without mentioning magnesium. It helps to regulate muscular contractions all over the body and is particular effective at this for period pain cramps. There is also a lot of clinical evidence that supplementing with magnesium helps to reduce or prevent dysmenorrhea. The type and dose are really important for effectiveness, which is why it’s always best to get clinically proven practitioner supplements for your health needs.
In conclusion, there are some wonderful natural remedies that you can use to help relieve pain during your period.
However, if you feel that you need more personalised support to get your period pain or hormonal cycles in balance, please contact me to book an appointment.