Natural help for period pain includes, apart from dietary changes, taking specific nutritional supplements, herbs and homoeopathic remedies which provide period pain relief. Naturopathic medicine can provide immense period pain relief. The aim is to treat the pain and other symptoms, and bring back a state of balance naturally. If you do all of this, your general wellbeing will improve and you can lead a vital and active life.
Period pain and diet
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Eat complex carbohydrates – wholegrains like brown rice, oats, spelt bread.
- Buy organic foods where possible.
- Eat phytoestrogens, including beans such as lentils, linseeds, chickpeas and fermented soy.
- Eat oily foods, including fish, nuts, seeds and oils.
- Drink two litres of filtered water daily.
- Increase your intake of fibre i.e. fruit and vegetables and low GI grains.
- Avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners.
- Add more bioflavonoids to your diet. These help reduce pain and inflammation. Bilberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, pomegranates and even grapes contain bioflavonoids.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fat.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Avoid sugar on its own and hidden in foods.
Period pain and diet: is coffee the enemy?
The consumption of caffeine-containing beverages – yes, that is coffee, tea, Oolong tea, green tea, energy drinks, chocolate has been strongly related to the prevelance of period pain associated with Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
The problem is, many women drink caffeine beverages, in particular coffee, in response to having the period pain in the first place, thereby exacerbating their symptoms. The more coffee you drink the worse the symptoms are likely to be. What’s more, too much coffee can cause a deficiency of calcium, which is not good as calcium is a mineral necessary for period pain relief. More than 2 cups of strong coffee per day can pull calcium out of your bones!
Natural help for period pain: Supplements
- A good multivitamin and mineral tablet is a foundation supplement providing you with a little bit of everything.
- Vitamin B1 is very effective in helping with period pain. In one study, it was given to 556 women (aged 12 to 21 years) who had moderate to severe dysmenorrhoea (period pain). Some of the women were given the vitamin B1 for 90 days and then changed to a placebo. Others were given the placebo first for 90 days and the vitamin B1 next. 87% of the women were completely cured after starting the vitamin B1 treatment. This effect remained for at least two months after the vitamin B1 was stopped.
- Vitamin B6 has been shown to significantly reduce the intensity and duration of period pain. It helps produce ‘good’ prostaglandins that relaxes and widens blood vessels as opposed to ‘bad’ prostaglandins that increase womb contractions and pain.
- Vitamin B12 is also beneficial for relieving period pain and is effective when taken in combination with Vitamin B1 and B6. Try to find a good quality, high dose Vitamin B complex to deliver pharmalogical amounts of these particular B vitamins.
- Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant therefore very beneficial for painful periods and lower back pain.
- Vitamin E assists with pelvic circulation. Up to 70% of women have found this to be useful in treating painful periods.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is a helpful combination for period pain because they help relax smooth muscle and reduce inflammation.
- Essential fatty acids help provide spasm and pain relief. Research has shown that women with low intakes of Omega 3 fatty acids (from fish, linseed and walnuts) have more painful periods than women who have a good intake. If you are going to supplement, it is important to take a good quality fish oil with adequate EPA and DHA.
- Zinc is important for because it is needed for the proper conversion of essential fatty acids.
- Bromelain is an enzyme contained in pineapples which has been found to be extremely useful for treating painful periods. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps as a natural blood thinner.
NB. For best results, try these recommended supplements for a period of three months. These supplements are best taken under the care and guidance of your healthcare practitioner.
Herbs For Period Pain
- Cramp bark and Wild Yam are herbs that help to reduce pain and spasm associated with period pain.
- Ginger is an effective herb to improve blood circulation and ease pain.
Always consult a registered practitioner.
Homoeopathy For Period Pain
The following remedies may be considered by your naturopath or homoeopath as a part of natural treatment for period pain:
- Manesia phos
Always consult a registered practitioner.
More natural help for period pain
- Place a hot water bottle on your abdomen.
- Avoid drinking cold water (straight from the fridge) for a week before and during your period.
- Sip herb teas – chamomile, ginger, raspberry leaf and peppermint are good choices. Your naturopath will make up a more specific herbal formula in conjunction with your consultation, usually containing herbs to balance the hormonal cycle and antispasmodic herbs such as cramp bark to help relieve the cramping symptomatically.
- Massage your abdomen – rub around your abdomen in a clockwise direction.
- Castor oil packs can provide great relief from cramping, pain and back ache.
- Linseed packs can also provide immense period pain relief
- Magnesium in the form of magnesium phosphate if taken every one to two hours helps relieve cramping.
- A warm bath may help – add some chamomile flowers (or a few teabags) and essential oils such as rosemary, juniper, geranium and lavender into the bath water.
- Use pads instead of tampons.
- Gently press your pressure points and increase the pressure gradually. Make sure you continue to breathe rhythmically.- Spleen 6: this point is found in a hollow that is about three finger widths above the interior ankle bone.- Colon 4: found in the V between the thumb and first finger.
- Take care with yoga postures. If they cause any discomfort or pain stop immediately. It is always best to speak to your yoga teacher if you are new to yoga. – Bow – lie on your stomach and bend your knees. Grab ankles and pull legs up towards head. Release gently and rock back and forward.- Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds. Do both legs together and also one at a time.
You may find some of the above natural treatment for period pain are more effective than others.
While the methods suggested above may help to relieve pain every month, naturopathic treatment offers gentle improvement every month so that eventually you should have no pain at all.