Most of us dread that ‘time of month’ where we feel fatigued, hormonal and worst of all incredible pain. I always try to understand feelings of discomfort as messages from my body trying to tell me something is imbalanced.
A basic understanding of menstruation
- Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus. During each menstrual period, if there is no sperm to fertilise the egg, the uterus contracts to expel its lining.
- It is these uterine contractions that cause much of your pain. Contractions inhibit blood flow to the lining of the uterus. When the uterus contracts too strongly, it presses against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain usually results when part of a muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen.
- Conventional pain medication is potentially effective but can have negative side effects on your digestive, nervous and cardiovascular system. Hormonal birth control is also regularly prescribed but interferes with your normal hypothalamus/pituitary/ovarian hormonal axis to prevent ovulation, aka not natural.
Natural prevention & remedies
Hormones. Most menstrual conditions – cramps and heavy bleeding – are caused by an imbalance of hormones. When you are deficient in certain nutrients, your hormonal health can suffer. Start by implementing whole, plant-based foods into your diet and you’ll certainly notice a difference.
Toxicity. Environmental toxins and stress can also play a part in your hormonal imbalances. If there are toxins in your bloodstream, your body will use any opportunity of an open ‘wound’ or menstruating uterine wall to expel as many toxins as possible. Removing toxic conditions involves a series of cleansing periods with a diet rich in raw, plant-based foods, fresh vegetables juices (link:http://www.pilatestreemagazine.com/juicing-101/), fresh, organic fruit, sprouted seeds and nuts.
Acidity. Over-acidity is another condition that can exacerbate menstrual pain and heavy flows. If you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, chemical sensitivity, food allergy or candida, your metabolism becomes inefficient and produces too much acid. This causes increased pain, inflammation, bleeding and swelling. Alkalising your body with fresh fruits and vegetables is a great start.
Oxygen. And of course, anything that helps bring oxygen to your muscles is going to be a soothing remedy for menstrual cramp pain. This can include anything from exercising, acupuncture, massage, warm baths, yoga, sleep and heat pads.
If you still suffer from menstrual cramps and you follow a healthy, plant-based diet, another thing to consider is your digestive health. When I refer to digestion, I’m talking about your body’s ability to break down the food you eat and convert it into usable energy. Normally, we should eat food one day and the waste from it should be expelled the very next day. More commonly, it takes three days on a typical western diet.
Restoring digestive health
- Healthy fats. Incorporate healthy fats into 30 – 50% of your diet. Some examples include coconut oil, nuts, seeds, flax and chia.
- Chlorophyll. Increase your intake of chlorophyll (link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Liquid-Chlorophyll-Natural-Spearmint-Oil/dp/B004PZZ5TW). It has high levels of vitamins A, C and E, has a strong antioxidant capacity and has also been found to help reduce inflammation.
- Bioflavonoids and carotenoids. These are the yellow, orange, red and purple pigments in fruits and vegetables. They strengthen the capillary walls and ensure rapid wound healing.
- Fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatories that can help with cramps as well as bloating.
- Magnesium and calcium. They are two nutrients that help reduce muscle soreness, tension and can help lessen menstrual symptoms. Magnesium helps to deliver much needed oxygen to cells and tissues, bone formation, nerve and muscle function. It’s also critical for your cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands, and brain.
- Maca root. A cruciferous root found in Peru, it has been traditionally regarded as providing strength and endurance, enhancing fertility, and supporting pregnancies and menstruation.
Do you suffer from painful menstrual cramps? Are you willing to try some of these remedies?