“The menstruation cycle consists of a series of physiological change in the uterus, ovaries and endocrine system that take place from the beginning of one menstrual flow, to the start of the next.” – Eva Agee, Ph.D
Some of us experience pain, bloating, acne, headaches, cravings, weight gain, water retention, anxiety, irregular periods, heaviness and mood swings during this cyclical hormonal change. This can easily cause stress and create havoc during the time of menstruation. Debilitating menstruation pain sometimes may require that we rearrange our work schedule or call in sick to stay home during the first 1 or 2 days of the cycle. Some of us get painful acne on the face and back. Splitting headaches and exhaustion also can take over our lives! We all know how menstrual irregularities, PMS symptoms, and cramps can impair our daily activities during the cycle. They also pose health risks such as anemia (in case of heavy bleeding).
Modern medications rarely correct the underlying cause of this discomfort. If you chose medications such as NSAIDS, antidepressants, and hormonal contraceptives it can reduce the PMS symptoms but does not really take care of the root of cause of the pain or symptoms and may also have adverse side effects. However implementing holistic strategies to support the body’s natural healing can lead to long term positive effect on your health and you may rarely experience the painful PMS symptoms.
One thing I have learned from my journey towards health and healing is that pain and discomfort are not normal for your body. It is always an indication that something deep inside is not right. Your body is sending you messages through pain to get your attention. Therefore, when correct foods are given and when you build a strong mind-body connection your hormones will fall into equilibrium and cramps will be absent for good.
I am sharing with you some of my own secrets on how to correct PMS symptoms and get relief. However know that like anything else there is no magic pill to get rid of this pain and healing will not happen overnight. Be patient, be consistent and healing will follow through.
You guessed it right from the title that I will be discussing food, nutrition, exercise and herbs as well as some do’s and don’ts for your diet.
What can cause PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps?
- Excessive estrogen: This is a necessary hormone for our reproductive health. However excessive estrogen can cause unpleasant and painful periods. Excessive estrogen can be due to stress in the body. Correcting dietary habits can also keep this hormone in balance.
- Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormone is required for many functions in the body including deactivating excessive estrogen hormone and speed up the metabolism.
- Stress: Stress releases cortisol hormone in the body, produced by our adrenal glands. Higher production of this hormone due to stress can lower the levels of progesterone and thyroid hormones. Both progesterone and thyroid hormones are required to balance estrogen in our body.
The above hormonal imbalances can be easily caused by improper dietary habits, emotional stress, chemicals in our foods, chemicals in our body care products, tap water, carrying excessive weight in the body and an inactive lifestyle.
The don’ts: During or a week before the cycle
- Don’t consume white sugar, processed white flours and artificial colours and additives through your foods.
- Don’t choose a low fat diet. Yes you heard be right. You need the right (unprocessed and extra virgin) fats to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in your body such as vitamin A, D, E and K. Such as coconut oil, ghee, flax seed oil, evening primrose oil and hemp seeds.
- Reduce eating too much soy or grain based foods. These foods can increase blood sugar imbalances, lower thyroid functions and reduce the liver’s ability to detox excess estrogen. Grain based foods are rice, pasta and bread.
- Eliminate commercial diary and dairy based products from your diet completely. You can choose to consume organic unhomogenized milk or raw milk (grass fed and good husbandry practice) from a well-known farmer.
- Eliminate table salt or refined salt intake. Replace it with Celtic sea salt or Himalayan Pink salt.
- You must consider eliminating caffeine from your diet to get rid of painful menstruation.
- Do not use sanitary pads that are not disposable. Organic disposable pads contains no harmful chemicals.
The do’s: 12 natural ways to reduce menstrual cramps or period pain
- Drink lemon water every morning after you wake up. This will have an alkalizing effect on the body and keep the body hydrated and mineralized. Stay hydrated throughout the day,
- Must include vitamin D3 in your diet. Especially if you live is a colder climate where sunlight is reduced during the winter season.
- Increase consumption of leafy greens to ensure enough B vitamins, fiber and mineral supply in the body. You will get a lot of calcium, magnesium, iron, B vitamins and other minerals through leafy greens. Swiss chard, collard greens, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, spinach contains these minerals.
- Eat fatty fish, fish or flax oil every day to get relief from hormonal imbalances.
- My most favourite remedy to get relief from cramps is an Ayurvedic home remedy using cinnamon and ginger to make a tea. Just use ¼ tsp. of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger or couple of thin slices of half an inch of fresh ginger to a cup of hot water. Wait and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain and drink the tea. I will also write a recipe for pain free period tea concoction.
- Vitex or chaste berry is a herb that eases menstrual cramps,
- Evening primrose oil or borage oil are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and are known to reduce breast pain and tenderness as well as PMS symptoms.
- Dietary intake of calcium and magnesium is crucial for balancing the hormones.
- Using heating pads or hot water bags around the area relaxes the stiff muscles and reduces pain by bringing oxygen in the area.
- One of the most important things to address is relaxation through 7-8 hours of sound sleep and stress reduction. Meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama) also assists in reducing stress.
- If you eat a lot of nuts, seeds and grains then increase aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises releases endorphin hormones or “feel good” hormones in the body. The presence of this hormone works like a natural pain killer.
- Apply natural progesterone cream or wild yam cream. Apply this cream on stomach, lower abdominal area, buttocks, things, breasts and upper arm area. Best time to apply this cream is a week before the start of your period.
Address sleep, stress and digestive imbalances and practice a balanced health protocol for 6-8 weeks in order to reduce any PMS symptoms including cramps. If you are someone who tends to stray away from your health routine, then make sure you apply as many of the above mentioned remedies as possible a week before your cycle. This I would say is still a band aid solution as oppose to destroying the root cause of pain completely.
If you are interested an Ayurvedic Consultation with me (no matter where you are!) click here and contact me directly here. If you are interested by tried recipe for menstrual cramp relief get high quality, additive free ground cinnamon and ginger from my health shop.
Use the social media buttons to share this blog with your friends and family via Twitter, or Facebook.
What do you usually do when you get cramps?
Share natural ways you eliminate your menstrual cramps. Post a comment below!