Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

photo by Kate Sweeney

photo by Kate Sweeney

Around 50% who experience a cycle also undergo menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Whether mild or debilitating, the common cure is to pop an ibuprofen and call it a day.

Today, let’s review ayurveda natural remedies to relieve your discomfort just as quickly and efficiently as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

“The problem is that while Motrin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs may work to relieve period pain, and are also effective at reducing a heavy menstrual bleeding - they can also be doing serious harm.” Queen Aviva Romm

Photo by McKenzie Thompson

 

1. DIET FOR MIMIZING MENSTRUAL CRAMPS

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Considering your diet is your first step into identifying menstrual cramp triggers. Next up, focus on reducing inflammation through the intake of bitter, astringent, and sour herbs and foods. This includes dark leafy greens, ginger, cinnamon, apples, onions, garlic, etc. These foods will aid in the clearing of excess estrogen in the body and reduce inflammation.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET: A Mediterranean diet has been proven to aid in the excretion of toxins and plaques in the body.

Incorporate these 5 Ingredients:

  • Fresh fruits and Veggies: focusing primarily on dark greens and non-starchy veggies.

  • Olive Oil: a great nutritive and nervine tonic.

  • Legumes and Beans

  • Omega 3: this is the brand that I use.

  • Probiotics: kefir, yogurt, cheese, kombucha, etc.

 

2. MAGNESIUM

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Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Glycinate will do. I often suggest magnesium supplements to my clients for a plethora of conditions. It is no question that the vast majority of Americans are magnesium deficient (~80%). There are countless ailments associated with the deficiency of magnesium; therefore, I suggest magnesium supplements with most of my clients.

Not only can magnesium relieve menstrual cramps, but it has positive effects on quality of sleep and can aid in depression.  

My queen inspiration, Aviva Romm, M.D. suggests the following: increasing Magnesium to about 600 mg/day starting ~5 days before your period is due. Continue throughout the month at ~300 mg/day.

 

3. PEPPERMINT OIL GELS

MY FAVORITE: One capsule (~180mg) of peppermint gel capsules taken for first 3 days of a period can lessen menstrual cramp severity equal to an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory).

Also, peppermint is a great herbal remedy for reducing nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea (whilst NSAIDs do not have this benefit).

 

4. CINNAMON

Not a fan of peppermint capsules..? Give cinnamon a try. 

  • Day 1: 5 capsules (2 days prior to period)

  • Day 2: 10 capsules (1 day prior to period)

  • Day 3: 15 capsules (PERIOD BEGINS)

  • Day 4: 15 capsules (continue on as needed)

 

5.REDUCE XENOESTROGEN INTAKE

This day and age, we are exposed to more synthetic estrogens (xenoestrogens) than ever before.

Xenoestrogens are found in common plastics and pesticide products; further, this classification of synthetic chemicals are also known as ‘endocrine disruptors’ of which act and process just as estrogen do. When we have an influx of xenoestrogens interacting without bodily process, we undergo what is called ‘estrogen dominance.’ Because xenoestrogen (synthetic estrogen) operates just like natural estrogen, it can lead to an influx of hormones in the body - disrupting the natural processes of our endocrine system (i.e. glandular activity, thyroid functioning, reproductive organs and glands, hypothalamus)

See Below for a List of Common Xenoestrogens

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  • Skincare:

    • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) (sunscreen lotions)

    • Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)

    • Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)

  • Industrial products and Plastics:

    • Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)

    • Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).

    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

  • Food:

    • Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3

    • Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)

    • Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)

  • Other:

    • Propyl gallate

    • Chlorine and chlorine by-products

    • Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)

    • Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)

    • Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents

 

Guidelines to Minimizing Exposure to Xenoestrogens: 

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Food

  • Avoid pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.

  • Peel non-organic fruits and vegetables.

  • Buy hormone-free meats and dairy products to avoid hormones and pesticides.

Plastics

  • Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible.

  • Do not microwave food in plastic containers.

  • Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.

  • Don’t refill plastic water bottles.

Household Products

  • Use chemical free, biodegradable laundry and household cleaning products.

  • Choose chlorine-free products and unbleached paper products (i.e. tampons, menstrual pads, toilet paper, paper towel, coffee filters).

Health and Beauty Products

  • Avoid creams and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens and stearalkonium chloride.

  • Use naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils.

  • Use chemical free soaps and toothpaste.

 

6. DAILY TIPS + TRICKS

  • Reduce your intake of alcohol and tobacco products

  • Removing the use of bleached menstrual tampons (try a Diva Cup or Period Panties for size!!) 

  • Use lavender, clary sage, or eucalyptus oil in your shower for aromatherapy! Take a few drops on your shower floor, or in your bath!

  • My favorite yoga pose to relieve cramps:

    • PUPPY POSE: very similar to childs pose; however, let your hips float away from your heels and draw your hips towards the ceiling.

7. AYURVEDIC APPROACH

In Ayurveda, we look at dysmenorrhea as primarily a Vata imbalance. During this time, we want to incorporate the following into our lifestyle: heavy, warm, and dense food, and restorative, and nourishing practices. 

Vata Pacifying Diet: introduce well cooked, warm, and well-oiled food into your diet at this time. Let your food oleate you and reduce the dryness that is often associated with menstrual pain.

Castor Oil Packs: this is the process of absorbing castor oil into a piece of cloth/material and allow it to rest on the low abdomen for at least an hour. For best results, bring in a heating element, which stimulates our lymphatic and liver functioning.

Water Intake: hydrate your cellular tissues. Keep on your radar, the consumption of ½ your (healthy) weight in ounces. (i.e. 100lbs = 50 oz hydrating fluids per day). This includes teas, coconut water, kombucha, water, etc.

Intuition: really feel what is happening within your body. Tap into the mind’s eye. Listen. Ask yourself, 'what method above most resonates with me?' Give them all a try, whichever works best… stick with that. Most importantly, no one knows your body better than you do and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. That being said, use this as an opportunity to reclaim your health. Educate yourself and inquire deeply about your body and how to best support it!

Want to dive into a complete individual program that considers every aspect of your past and present lifestyle and wellness grid? Check out my consultations page and let’s get a meeting on the books!

 

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to email me, or visit my consultation pages for one-on-one consultation packages.

*This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before administering use, especially if pregnant, nursing, on medication. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not to be used for diagnoses, treatment, or prevention of disease. 

 
Marina ZahranComment