When it comes to painful periods and PMT, your hormones and gut bacteria play a very important role, however there is more to PMT than many women realize. And because we lead such busy lives, it has become the norm for women to push aside their very own nature.
We often find ourselves suppressing emotions to fit into our fast-paced culture. There are many contributing components such as diet and hormone imbalances that contribute to menstrual discomfort.
Many women are affected by pain and other symptoms associated with menstruation at some point in their life. For some women the pain can be so intense that it interferes with the daily function of normal life.
Severe cases of painful periods are known as Dysmenorrhea. During menstruation, your uterus contracts to shed its lining, a process that's triggered by hormone-like substances called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are associated with both pain and inflammation, and higher levels of these substances are linked to more severe menstrual cramps. Spasms and cramps being the main symptom, with the wave like pain centered in the lower abdomen, lower back, vulva, and sometimes thighs.
The pain is often accompanied by:
- Breast Tenderness
- Headaches and Dizziness, fainting
- Vomiting and Diarrhoea/constipation
- Exhaustion Lethargy
A Holistic Approach to A Healthy Menstruation
Thankfully, there is a lot of research, which acknowledges natural methods being able help reduce menstrual discomfort, which afflicts so many of us.
Here are some holistic suggestions that hopefully will lead you to happy healthy hormones and a stress-free cycle. Remembering that we are more than just the sum of parts, we are an entire biological system, therefore natural solutions can offer more than just a quick fix of over-the-counter painkillers that we are accustomed to use for the sake of convenience.
NOTE: Please check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.
- Smart Supplements
In a perfect world we should all be getting our nutrients from our diet, proper hydration and adequate Vitamin D from the Sun. Since this is seldom the case, supplements can sometimes be helpful!
Now this little hormone-boosting tuber (root vegetable) is from the radish family and has had a successful and long relationship with the women of Peru. Women who supplement with Maca often find a decrease in PMT symptoms, improvements in fertility, better-looking skin and hair. Maca is a wonderful source of essential fatty acids, and this is one of the ways it supports hormone balance.
Do not use Maca during pregnancy.
Is essential for numerous functions within our bodies and many of us are deficient in this important mineral. Increasing magnesium is one very effective way of treating menstrual cramps, as well as other types of menstrual-related pain, including headaches and nausea. There are several different ways to get Magnesium: Available in powder, capsule or liquid form. Applying magnesium topically can be very effective for those with sensitive digestive systems.
Vitamin D & Omega-3s –
Are supportive of hormone functions within the body, obviously Vitamin D is best obtained from the sun, when possible, otherwise if you are deficient, D3 or Cod liver oil make a great supplement. Vitamin D not only helps to decrease the production of prostaglandins, but it also helps decrease the production of cytokines, which promote inflammation in your body. Also include plenty of dark green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Evening Primrose Oil –
Consists of essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is helpful in treating pain, which can contribute to PMT symptoms.
Chasteberry also called Vitex –
Is a small, brown berry with a long history as part of herbal medicine. It’s one of the most popular and effective herbal remedies for PMT symptoms. Vitex health benefits include relief from cramps, irregular periods, and menopausal mood swings.
Studies have shown that vitex has a positive effect on hormonal health. It’s considered to be one of the top herbal remedies for natural PMT relief. Vitex works by suppressing the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Studies have shown that vitex health benefits also include reduced breast tenderness, reduced headache, and improved mood.
- Nourish Dietary changes can work extremely well when trying to relieve cramping and other PMT symptoms –
- Avoiding caffeine - caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda, can increase levels of tension and anxiety, avoid alcohol, and carbonated drinks too.
- Reducing your sugar intake - avoid refined sugars, which are known to increase inflammatory chemicals in the body.
- Avoid Dairy - dairy products like milk and cheese can be congesting to the body and trigger cramps. Look for other sources of calcium, like fresh broccoli.
- Keep away from inflammatory foods such as, smoked cheeses, smoked meats, and smoked fish (they can increase fluid retention)
- Making sure you're getting enough nourishment from your diet, specifically vitamin B6, manganese, vitamins A and E, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fats and tryptophan.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration
- Nature Being in Nature is very empowering, our cycle is directly connected with Mother Nature, and she will nurture, inspire and invigorate you. Be with her, rest with her, ground with her and admire her in all her natural beauty.
- Adequate Exercise – If you have a hormone imbalance, intense exercise can sometimes exacerbate the issue in the short term. Moderate exercise can help to relieve menstrual cramps probably because it raises levels of endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that are associated with pain relief. Focusing on relaxing exercises like walking, swimming, pilates or yoga.
- Aromatherapy, Massage and Heat Compress Gently massage castor oil clockwise into your abdomen and then apply a heat compress or hot water bottle. Essential oils (blended with a carrier oil) you could consider would be Clary Sage, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Geranium and Marjoram. Incorporating essential oils into your massage or a warm relaxing bath can help you to better cope with mood swings. For too much bleeding try a warm compress with cypress or frankincense. For too little bleeding, a warm compress on the lower abdomen or a warm bath with Basil, Clary Sage or Juniper Berry.
- Sleep Well In general, we know that getting enough sleep is essential to good health, But it’s especially so during your moon cycle. Typical pre-menstrual and menstrual issues—such as headaches, cramping, bloating, and anxiety—can prevent a restful night’s sleep for somewhat obvious reasons: Pain and discomfort make it difficult to sleep well. This unfortunate pattern leaves many women tired and uncomfortable in the days before and in the days during their monthly periods. To help minimize many of these issues try adhering to the good habits mentioned above as well as keeping your bedroom adequately ventilated, as dark as possible, remove computers, laptops, digital clocks etc. Try using homeopathic Bach’s Sleep Remedy, herbal teas such as Passionflower or Valerian. (If tolerated)
- Enjoy being a woman!
- Surround yourself with the things you love, flowers, essential oils, incense
- Put on your favorite music
- Treat yourself with extra care and tenderness
- Be kind to yourself in thoughts, words and actions.
- Above all enjoy being a Woman