PERIODS DON’T HAVE TO BE PAINFUL

For years I suffered excruciatingly painful periods accompanied with extreme fatigue.  I took one NSAID after the other to dull the pain not realising the serious side effects these drugs have including causing issues with fertility.

My GP suggested that I go back on the Pill, which is not something I was willing to do, being very aware of the risky side effects. I also did not want to mask symptoms; I wanted to find out what was causing this pain.  I was referred to a private gynecologist who told me to have a baby and prescribed extra strong painkillers.  Not the solution I was looking for.

Many women suffer pain and cramps during their period that may last a number of days. When these symptoms are not caused by an underlying condition such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fibroids, it is known as Primary Dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea can often be accompanied with diarrhea, constipation headaches, backache, nausea, vomiting.

Usually this pain is a result of uterine contractions that are too strong and occur too frequently caused by the overproduction of inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins. 

What causes the inflammatory prostaglandins?

One of the biggest causes of inflammation is Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).  These are environmental toxins that get in to our blood stream and mimic estrogen. This causes higher levels of estrogen, which in turn causes the lining of the uterus to become thicker then is should be.  When this lining is shed during our period our body has to produce stronger contractions to expel this lining, which results in much more pain and heavy bleeding.

Our diets and lifestyles can also contribute to inflammation within the body.

By changing my diet, improving my gut health, managing the stress in my life and taking herbal remedies blended for my individual needs, I was able to significantly reduce the pain and fatigue I experienced and so can you.

Cut out processed foods

Processed white flour products, bad quality oils and sugar are inflammatory causing foods containing very little nutrition.  Ditch them.

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake

Colourful fruit and vegetables contain anti-oxidants, which fight against inflammation. Ensure that you eat the rainbow daily with lots of orange, yellow and purple fruit and vegetables to help reduce inflammation and support natural detox processes.

Include lots of dark leafy greens, which are full of magnesium to help reduce cramps. Add garlic and turmeric to help the liver clear excess estrogen.

Organic Foods

EDCs are found in herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals that end up in our food. Opt for organic food whenever possible.  Of course eating organic on a budget can be challenging so try to minimize your exposure to food containing the most toxins such as meat.  Try as much as possible to ensure all meat is hormone and pesticide free and all dairy should be organic. Familiarise yourself with the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 so you know which plants contain the most and least chemicals.

Increase Omega-3’s

Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation in the body. Foods that contain omega-3 include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) cod liver oil, salmon oil, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds.

Magnesium 

Even with a lot of magnesium rich foods in our diet it is sometimes necessary to supplement with magnesium.  One of magnesium’s many roles in the body is as a muscle relaxant. This is why it helps with period pain.

Reduce Stress

Stress can throw our hormones out of balance and increase cortisol levels.  Adding in daily practices that help to reduce stress such as meditation, dancing, walking in nature, a relaxing bath, self oil massage, and introducing an evening wind down routine can really help to balance the mind, body and reduce inflammation.

Herbs

I recommend ginger and lots of it.  Add it to your food, chew on it, slice a big chunk and boil for 10 minutes to make a lovely tea.  Ginger has a long history of use for its anti-inflammatory effects and pain relieving properties.

Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) is a popular herb for period pain.  Often woman try this and then say that it didn’t work.  Cramp bark needs to be taken daily on the days leading up to the start of the period in order for it to be effective. 

Extra Help

Implementing the above advice will go a long way in helping to reduce period pain but sometimes a little extra help is required. 

We are all born with our own unique constitution and each woman’s period pain and underlying cause will differ. Some may have more pain before their periods, some will have more pain after the period starts, some will experience the pain in their abdomen, and some woman will experience water retention or hot flashes or irritability.  

From my own experience in searching for a solution for my painful periods, rather than wasting money on expensive supplements, see a herbalist who can blend a herbal remedy especially for you. The ladies I treat in my clinic for period pain often experience vast improvements in just one month of taking the herbal formulas that I blend for them.

A herbalist blends a formula that will correct the underlying causes.  The herbs selected may address digestive issues, support the liver in processing hormones, help relax the body and reduce stress, are anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and hormone balancing. Taking the formula daily throughout the month will give significant improvements.

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