I am getting very painful periods each month, is it normal? And what are some natural alternatives so I am not living off pharmaceuticals?
Minor cramping or a dull menstrual pain on the first couple days of your period is considered normal for your menstrual cycle, however periods that are extremely painful and debilitating are not!
In Chinese Medicine, it is said that the most common causes for dysmenorrhea (aka painful periods) are caused by a congestion of Qi and/or Blood in the meridians or from a deficiency of Blood.
To counteract deficiency and congestion within the meridians in the uterus, we need to keep the Qi & Blood flowing smoothly! Here are some simple tips to help;
Heat – using heat packs & hot water bottles on your lower abdomen or hitting up the infrared sauna in the days leading up to your period will help to not only soothe pain and muscle tension, but will keep the meridians warm and the Qi/Blood flowing smoothly within. Cold on the other-hand stagnates the area leading to more pain!
Magnesium – relaxes tight muscles and reduces tension which again will help to keep the Blood & Qi flowing smoothly.
Vitamin E supplements – Studies show that taking a dose of 200g of Vitamin E for 3x days prior to your period will help to relieve cramps by inhibiting the release of prostaglandins, which are responsible for the painful contractions (cramps) of the uterus experience during your period.
Exercise – keeps the Qi & Blood moving in the meridian and helps to release endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain that reduce your perception of pain.
Take a warm bath – Add in calming blends of essential oils such as lavender, chamomile and clary sage which are known for their ability to soothe and relieve menstrual cramps
Drink Herbal Tea – That have warming properties such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and fennel that relieve cramps and reduce pain and congestion.
Massage your belly with a good quality castor oil – Apply castor oil which is a great anti-inflammatory, topically on your lower abdomen and massage in slow circular movements in a clock wise direction to help relieve tension and cramps
Avoid cold foods – Particularly raw, uncooked and cold foods in the week up to your period. Not only are they hard for the stomach to digest but also too much cold creates congestion in the uterus.
Cover your lower back – dress appropriately to the weather and keep your lower back and uterus warm in the days leading up to your period. Also avoid sitting on cold floors particularly cement where cold can penetrate directly to your uterus!
Consult your Chinese Medicine Practitioner - Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine are both beneficial in not only reducing cramps and pain associated with periods, but also can get to root cause of your issue and can be a great holistic alternative to treating your body. Acupuncture in particular counteracts pain by increasing the endorphin levels in the body!
Consult your GP for further investigation – Any pain that’s debilitating warrants further investigation by your health care provider to rule out conditions that are known for causing dysmenorrhea such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, IBS and ectopic pregnancy just to name a few.