Ouch! Many women experience pain and cramping around the time of their period. It can range in severity from mild to crippling, and severe pain may indicate a more serious medical problem that should be investigated. For most women however, there is no underlying condition, simply what is known medically as primary dysmenorrhoea. It is often first noticed in the teenage years, as a girl enters puberty and produces higher levels of female hormones. Women may find that their period is less painful the older they get, or after having a child.
The pain may begin a day or two before the period and last the first few days into the bleed. It is believed to be caused by strong uterine contractions triggered by natural chemicals called prostaglandins. These prostaglandins cause inflammation, cut off the blood supply to the endometrial tissue of the womb (so that the lining will shed), and this results in pain.
Natural ways to help reduce period pain are to balance hormone levels (so that there are less prostaglandins produced); and to reduce the inflammation in the system. Less inflammation = less prostaglandins = less pain.
Nutrients including B1, B12, Magnesium, Calcium and Fish oils have been shown to reduce period pain in a number of scientific studies. Fish oils seem to work by producing anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and Magnesium regulates muscle cramping and spasm. Herbs of Gold Omega 3 Concentrate is a quality source of high doses of the Omega 3 fat EPA, which is most indicated for reducing inflammation. Additionally, Nutra Life Super Calcium Complex Gold is a balanced supplement containing both Calcium and Magnesium for optimal health.
Herbalists have traditionally used Vitex or Chaste tree berries to regulate hormone levels, especially if there are other signs of PMS. Cramp Bark, Black Haw and Wild Yam are ‘uterine spasmolytics’, which means they help to reduce inappropriate contraction of the womb. Try Nutra Life Organic Magnesium Complete, which is high potency. Turmeric and Evening Primrose Oil also have anti-inflammatory actions.
As nutrients may take a little while to help reduce your pain, warming up a Rita's Wheat Pack and placing it over your lower abdomen is a soothing, comforting way to find relief. Combine this with drinking a little spasmolytic or anti-inflammatory tea, like Planet Organics Ginger or Plant Organics Calming, and you have a calming analgesic (pain relieving) afternoon.
Research Updates - June 6 2011
Haas, A et al (2010), ‘Osteopathic treatment of women with primary dysmenorrhoea: A randomised controlled trial’, International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp. 127.
Primary dysmenorrhoea is when the pain is not caused by an underlying condition (such as endometriosis). This trial divided 60 women with the condition into a treatment group and a control group. Over the period of four cycles, the women in the active group received individualised osteopathic treatment approximately every fortnight.
Over this time, the women treated experienced a decrease in pain of 59%, suggesting that this is a very useful treatment intervention.
Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for Menstrual Pain:
|1. Nutra Life Organic Magnesium Complete (120T)||2 tabs x 1-2 daily|
2. Herbs of Gold Omega 3 Concentrate (100 Caps, 200 Caps)
|3 tabs x 2 daily.|
|2. Ethical Nutrients Hi-Strength Liquid Fish Oil (170ml, 280ml)||1 tsp x 2 daily.|
|3. Herbs of Gold B Complete Sustained Release (60 Tabs)||1 tb daily with breakfast.|
|4. Thompson's Evening Primrose Oil 1000 (300 Cap)||1 cap x 3 daily with food.|
|5. Rita's Wheat Pack (Square, Rectangular)||Apply to lower abdomen as required.|
|6. Nutra Life Super Calcium Complex Gold (120 Tabs, 240 Tabs)||2 caps daily.|
7. Planet Organics Ginger (25 bags)
Plant Organics Calming (25 bags)
|Brew strong cups (15 minutes in the boiling water) and drink as required.|
NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements. Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.
For more information on Menstrual Pain or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question Click Here.