Every woman has at one point or another dealt with excruciating menstrual periods, but for some women it’s more often than for others. Here I will share natural tips, strategies and recipes you can try to ease physical, and emotional problems associated with painful periods.
During your periods estrogen levels increase and your body releases an egg from the ovaries and builds the lining of the uterus to prepare for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized there is a drop of the hormone progesterone which leads to the contraction of the uterus to shed its lining, which causes pain and bloating.
Normal periods occur every 28 days and last 3-5 days and may be accompanied by slight discomfort. There are variations in both the length and durations of each cycle, as well as the levels of discomforts.
The menstrual cycle is 28 days which corresponds to one lunar cycle. It is a natural process of cleansing. According to Ayurveda, normal periods should be in synch with the cycle of the moon. The cycle of the moon is 28 days and so are the menstrual cycles. When the two are not insynched, this is when pain arises according to Ayurveda. When you are off balance and experience pain, this can be a sign of imbalance (balance with diet and regiment)
Common symptoms are due to hormonal changes and they include:
- Changes in mood,
- More irritable
- Low energy,
- Breast tenderness
- Feeling bloated,
If your periods are very heavy, irregular and painful to the point where it interferes with your everyday activities or you can’t function normally every month, check with your doctor to make sure there are no underlying conditions such as endometriosis or fibrosis.
There is not one cure fits all, however there are many natural ways to reliever mild to moderate pain associated with menstrual periods.
A) LIFESTYLE CHANGES Lifestyle changes are the things you do on a day to day basis.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PERIODS One thing that can be valuable is keeping track of your menstrual cycles. This will help determine if they are regular or not. Track when your physical and emotional symptoms first start, and how long they last, how long your cycles last as well as your cravings. Tracking your periods will help you plan ahead. For example if you know in advance you will be irritable in a few days, let people know around you that you are moody; they will be more empathetic. You can also plan things that help brighten your mood such as going to the movies or talking to a friend.
MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT An Australian study with over 9,888 subjects, followed women over a period of 13 years, and found a link between body weight and the severity of menstrual cramps. This is because fat cells affect hormone levels and how much estrogen is released into the system. This can contribute to hormone imbalance, as well as the severity of cramps. Women who are overweight tend to have more painful periods. If you have heavy periods and are overweight, consider managing your weight. Being too thin is not healthy either, because you may start skipping periods or not have periods at all, which leads to a whole other set of health issues. Keep in mind that you are not going to see changes overnight. Changes take place progressively over a period of months.
GET MOVING include moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or biking at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes and 60 minutes of yoga per week. The aerobic exercise will increase your endorphins, your feel good hormones and help with your mood during your cycle. It is safe to continue exercising during your periods.
CALCIUM: calcium supports the functions of the heart, muscles and nervous system. It is considered an anti-cramp mineral that should be taken throughout the month. Make sure you have your adequate intake. Load up on peas, lentils, seaweed, nuts and grains, figs, oranges, and dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, soy food
MAGNESIUM: magnesium support muscle contractions, regulates blood pressure and the nervous system. Your daily intake should be between 310 and 400 milligrams per day. Sources of magnesium include spinach, cashew, almonds,
B) 3-4 DAYS BEFORE YOUR CYCLE: Don’t wait for your cycle to begin to look for some relief. Instead, a few days before try this drink:
- 3 spoons sesame seeds,
- 1 spoon cumin seeds,
- boiling water,
crash and soak for 30 minutes. Strain and drink through the day.
C) DURING YOUR PERIODS: After mood swings, one of the most common problems with periods are menstrual cramps. In this video I’m going to share 8 strategies to relieve painful cramps and bloating. Cramps are painful because they are actual contractions of the uterus that sheds its lining.
#1. I know you may not be up to it, but if you can exercise: 30 minutes of light aerobic exercise during you cycle. This will increase blood flow and ease cramping.
#2 Rest: time to rest, do less if possible. This should be a quiet time for reflection. Besides light exercise, include meditation twice a day for 10 minutes, relaxation, yoga
#3. Sesame oil massages. They have been used in Ayurveda for centuries for pain relief. Use a few drops of oil and massage your lower abdomen.
#4. Heated pads or hot bottle water helps relax muscles. Making a heated pad is very simple, I’m gonna put the link in the description below.
# 5. DIET DON’T and Do’s: AVOID THESES alcohol (affects your mood), caffeine in the form of coffee, chocolate, sodas, salt (increases bloating) and sugar (makes cravings worse), fried food, chocolate, food that increases bloating (breads, salty and spicy food, potatoes, cabbage, beans, brussel sprouts). These types of food also affect your hormones in a negative way, making your periods more painful.
Eat less. During your period digestion is slower. This means you need to eat less and light. Warm liquid food with ghee (clarified butter used in India) will inforce digestive acids, and help with digestion). I put it in tea or use it to saute vegetables or in rice. Focus on freshly cooked food in Ghee butter.
Eat green leafy vegetables and beets to detox the liver and help eliminate the extra estrogen.
Eat food rich in Iron, Calcium, and zinc
TRY THESE HERBAL DRINKS: Herbal tea help with bloating, and cramps, reduce discomfort, and relax
GINGER TEA You can use ginger tea bags or make your own by boiling water with fresh grated ginger Drink ginger tea 5 times a day
- 1 tsp coriander seeds,
- 1 inch ginger for 1- minutes.
Strain and drink 2-3 times daily
FENUGREEK TEA: Fenugreek tea is a natural pain reliever that also helps with bloating: soak 2 tbs of fenugreek in water overnight and drink it
VINEGAR TEA Drink 1 tbs of vinegar with water before eating, this helps soothes muscle contractions