If you find yourself afflicted with the painful sudden onset of menstrual cramps, it is easy to let healthy habits slide, instead taking comfort in conventional pain relief medication and a variety of salty, sugary, fatty comfort foods.
With a little preparation, there are a number of natural remedies that can help to prevent the instance of painful cramps in the first place, as well as alleviating those already present.
Overall quality of heath, as well as the absence of specific vitamins and minerals can affect the severity of symptoms experienced before and during menstruation. A nutritionally complete diet will have health benefits that extend right throughout the month, but certain foods have vitamins and minerals that have been suggested to have a direct effect on the length and extremity of period pain and pre-menstrual syndrome.
Some practitioners recommend taking magnesium tablets every two hours during the first day of your period. Magnesium can be found naturally in green vegetables, wholemeal bread and pasta, nuts and seeds. A magnesium deficiency can cause (alongside period pain) restless legs, anxiety, and poor quality of sleep.
A zinc deficiency can lead to a poor wound healing response, period pain, lowered immune resistance, and acne. Zinc can be found naturally in oysters, meat, fish, nuts, and beans. Supplementation should be discussed with your doctor, as higher doses can interfere with the absorption of other important minerals.
Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish oil can help lower inflammation.
Calcium may help reduce menstrual pain and pre-menstrual pain through its role in maintaining muscle tone. The most readily absorbable form of calcium is calcium citrate, but you should discuss with your doctor before embarking on any supplementation program. You can also get calcium from leafy green vegetables, milk, milk products, soy and tofu.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Although not directly targeting pain, making yourself comfortable can help to alleviate menstrual discomfort. Heat pads, abdominal massage, deep breathing and warm tea can help to relax you and make the pain more tolerable (some tea is also therapeutic in nature; cinnamon tea is reported to have anti-spasmodic effect, ginger tea is anti-inflammatory). Go with whatever makes you feel better, just avoid things like alcohol or spicy food which may exacerbate existing pain.
Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing at the time, exercising when you have menstrual cramps can help stretch tense muscles, stimulate the release of beta-endorphins, and at the very least provide a distraction from the pain. If you are not used to vigorous exercise, yoga, pilates, or walking at a brisk pace is a good way to get the endorphins flowing. Endorphins work to counteract prostaglandins, a chemical which constricts the blood vessels in the uterus and make its muscle layer contract, creating the painful cramps associated with menstruation. Some prostaglandins can also enter the bloodstream, making them a potential cause of nausea, vomiting and headaches. The myriad positive effects of exercise are not constrained to menstruation, so exercise is best viewed as an ongoing commitment and not a bandaid solution.
Organic Feminine Hygiene Care
Although there has been an overwhelmingly small amount of research regarding the side effects of traditional non-cotton pads and tampons, there is some evidence suggesting that cotton can help to reduce symptoms of skin irritation.
The “EVVITA” survey conducted by Cenbiotech – a French Clinical and Epidemiological Research Centre of medicine and biotechnology – is showing that from a group of more than 300 women who suffered from recurring intimate disease and had previously used conventional plastic feminine hygiene products, switching to organic cotton products for only one month resulted in a 90% reduction in skin irritation.
Though not specifically relieving menstrual cramps, reducing irritation is one way of decreasing the discomfort associated with menstruation.
This information is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended to provide medical advice. Seek advice from your physician or health care provider before undertaking any course of treatment. Neither Organyc, Organic Trader Pty Ltd, or the author take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification or action which results from reading or following the information contained here.