The Joys of Being a Woman…Let’s Talk About Menstrual Cramps!
Well hello ladies… I’ve decided to talk about some secret women’s business today, particularly the one that goes under a number of unflattering aliases like, say…
Riding The Cotton Pony
Have the Painters in
Opening the Flood Gates
The Red River
The Red Tide
Being on Your Rag
Surfing the Crimson Wave…
You get the idea!
So um, yeah, I hope the guys out there have left this post by now *laughs* Like I said, this is secret women’s business! (Sorry to all the men out there! Please exit stage right!)
*Ahem* So now that the men are hopefully gone, let’s talk about our periods, and most importantly, our cramps! I mean, having cramps during our “time of the month” is normal right? It just seems like it’s just the way of things doesn’t it? I hardly know any woman that doesn’t have painful menstrual cramps.
Well, what if I told you that getting menstrual cramps isn’t as normal as you think? Sounds crazy since most women, particularly women that live in western countries, experience them. Actually, women in other parts of the world don’t even get period cramps…why is that I wonder?
The 3 Reasons you get Cramps
There are 3 main factors that may be contributing to your monthly discomfort, and they might surprise you…
1. Imbalanced Hormones-
One of the main causes of discomfort during menstruation is an imbalance of hormones, especially in the form of too many retained estrogens. These estrogens build up in our system and create all sorts of havoc, leaving the liver too overwhelmed to “digest” them properly. A clogged liver will just allow those extra estrogens to get reabsorbed into your blood stream and so the whole process starts over again. This imbalance can cause PMS, heavier periods, and you guessed it… period pain!
It may sound surprising that deficiency has a lot to do with cramps. One of the main nutritional deficiencies linked to menstrual pain is the lack of Omega Fatty Acids in our diet, particularly Omega 3. Period pain is essentially inflammation, and guess which Omega is responsible for balancing out our body’s inflammatory response? Omega 3!
When we eat a high fat, poor quality diet, our Omega 6 and Omega 3 levels become imbalanced. This imbalance stimulates the release of a hormone known as Prostaglandin F2, the hormone that causes inflammation, blood clotting, and PAIN. So be sure to get in your high quality fish oils, Sacha Inchi oil, chia seeds, avocado and flax seeds.
Another common deficiency is the lack of quality minerals in our diet due to depleted mineral content in the soil used to grow our food. Buying organic produce and grass fed meats will help restore vital minerals, build your blood, and reduce menstrual cramps. You can also take some trace mineral supplement drops in water to help build your minerals.
One of my favorite food based ways to up my minerals is to drink a daily Nettle Infusion which is jam packed with all sorts of vital nutrients that help support your body.
3. Distressed Liver-
Turning to over the counter meds for cramp relief can further stress and overwhelm the liver. Its ability to sift through toxins and hormones can become sluggish, allowing them to float freely through the body. The more toxins we have, the more intense our symptoms become like painful heavy periods.
Consuming toxic chemicals in the form of conventional medicine, processed foods, or even birth control pills, aren’t the only ways to overwork the liver. Environmental, emotional, and physical stresses can contribute to a stagnant liver, so try to de-stress after a tough day by doing yoga, meditating, going on a hike, or just doing whatever it is you enjoy doing that makes you happy. This will greatly reduce the amount of retained emotions in your liver….YES, your liver holds on to these things! So get out your anger, resentment, fear, sadness, and any other unhealthy bottled up emotions to help relieve your liver’s toxic overload.
How to Treat Menstrual Cramps Naturally
Lucky for you, there are tons of effective homemade remedies that treat cramps without the chemicals and medications.
• Up your Omega Fatty Acids
• Supplement with a high quality magnesium supplement (I like Natural Calm)
o Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, so no more pain spasms!
• Consider taking hormone balancing herbs like maca root, vitex (chast tree berry), or black cohosh
• If you must take a pain killer, at least switch to a natural one like white willow bark, cramp bark, california poppy, or valerian (these last 2 will make you VERY drowsy so take care when using them)
2 Homemade Remedies that Anyone can Make-
What You’ll need:
• Spring water
• 1 or more inches of fresh ginger root
• Bring 2 cups fresh spring water to a boil
• Chop the ginger into match sticks (if you can manage it) and add it to the pot
• Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for at least 10 minutes
• Pour into a nice big mug. You can strain it if you like (I like to eat the pieces of ginger)
• Get comfy with your hot water bottle and drink up!
Ginger is a great pain reliever and anti-spasmodic, meaning that it will keep your uterus from feeling like its being wrung out, beaten, or stepped on (at least that’s what my cramps used to feel like!). Soothing ginger will warm and comfort your menstrual whoas in no time! Drink this tea at the first onset of menstrual pain. You can drink this tea as much as you like!
So this one might sound a bit out of the ordinary, but I swear that it’s the best preventative remedy out there! Granted, this takes at least 2 cycles to really feel a difference, but just know that your diligence will pay off with pain free bliss! Well, maybe not bliss (I don’t know of anyone who actually enjoys their period), but you get the idea =)
All you have to do is take one spoonful of 100% pure unsulfered organic blackstrap molasses everyday. Yep, you have to do this from here on out, but you know what? It’s so worth it not having cramps anymore!
You might be wondering why Blackstrap Molasses works so well….that’s because it’s FULL of minerals, and more importantly, it’s full of all the muscle relaxant minerals like magnesium and potassium in a highly absorbable form.
I hope you give these 2 remedies a try! They really do work wonders with disciplined use… you’ll thank me later!
Herbal Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
Herbs can bring soothing relief if you know which herbs work best. Here are some of my favorite herbs to use when the pain begins.
Cramp bark is one of the most effective herbs to use for menstrual cramps. As its name suggests, it’s special affinity is for muscle cramping, which is exactly what your uterus is doing. It is after all, a muscle.
I find it most effective as a tincture (an alcohol extract) because it works in as little as 10 minutes. Herbal extracts enter straight through the stomach lining and into your system, which is why I prefer them over tea when I’m dealing with pain.
Unlike over the counter meds like NSAID’s, cramp bark will not harm the liver and is just as effective.
Use as directed on the bottle. I will usually take about 40 drops of tincture at the onset of pain, and then another 20-30 drops 30 minutes later if the pain persists. I find it especially helpful to drink cramp bark as a tea 1-2 days before my cycle begins, as it will lessen the severity of cramps before my period even starts.
This herb is wonderful! Black cohosh is highly anti-inflammatory and a great antispasmodic . This herb is not only great for cramps, but also for other muscle pain that likes to visit us during that time of the month like lower back pain, achy legs, and headaches. It’s most effective as a tincture. Take as directed on the bottle at the onset of pain.
Dong Quai is great for those stagnant, boggy, weighed down types of periods with scanty blood flow (sounds just lovely doesn’t it?). This herb will stimulate the lymph and circulatory systems to bring cleansing blood flow back to the tissues. It’s a wonderful decongestant for inflammation caused by stagnation, and a great pain reliever. Dong Quai is also wonderful for PMS by reducing stress, anxiety, and tension during one’s cycle, because it balances women’s hormones and nourishes the reproductive system.
This herb is best taken as a tincture and should be used ONLY by those with normal to light bleeding.
Another great antispasmodic herb, wild yam smoothes muscle tissue and effectively reduces chronic pain of the uterus, ovaries, and pelvic region. It is wonderful to use during menses for best results. I prefer to use the tincture.
Once again ginger arrives like a knight in shining armor! Ginger will care for you when you’re feeling especially sick with an upset stomach or are when you’re crampy and cranky…this simple root just does it all! Use ginger as often as needed for nausea, vomiting, digestive upset of all kinds, and of course for cramps. You can take ginger as a capsule for those of you who detest the flavor of ginger.
Chamomile is great for those of us with an especially grumpy mood before or during menses. I like to sip it as a nice strong tea (careful! It can be quite bitter!) with a bit of rose and lavender to bring my mood back down to earth. It is mildly sedative, reduces stress, and calms the nervous system.
Chamomile is also anti-inflammatory and of course wouldn’t you know it, antispasmodic! Sip this tea as often as you like whether Aunt Flo is visiting or not. (you can buy chamomile here)
This herb is one of my favorites! She does everything for you just as your own mother would when you’re feeling sick. Motherwort reduces muscle spasms and cramps while also acting as a wonderful sedative to ease you into comfort.
Motherwort is also great for headaches associated with menses as well as stress, anxiety, dizziness, and a fast beating heart. I like to take it as a tincture for best results. (you can buy motherwort here)
White Willow Bark-
And lastly, we have white willow bark. This herb is so effective for pain, that it used to be what aspirin was made of before it became synthetic junk. It’s effective and works quickly to bring down inflammation and to reduce even the most severe cramps to nearly nothing. White willow bark is the perfect replacement for ibuprofen and is best taken as a tincture. I love its woodsy aroma and brilliant ruby color.
I hope you find these remedies to be useful! Who knew that such simple applications could work so well =)
Good luck on your journey to pain free periods! For more tips on banishing cramps, check out this article.