Menstrual cramps are also called dysmenorrhea , which literally means painful period. Menstrual cramps can be due to imbalanced in your pelvic organs such as ovaries, fallopian tubes and or uterus; though more often than not painful periods relate more to poor dietary habits, stress and lack of connection to our bodies.
Menstrual cramps are also an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to tune in to the wisdom of your body.
There are a few questions that may help you understand your body messages better:
- How do I feel after I eat dairy products?
Dairy products are those derived from milk (cow’s and goat’s milk). Some examples are: margarine, butter, cheeses (of all kinds), cream, ice-creams, yogurt… Some of us are sensitive to dairy products and would have reactions to them like bloating, a feeling “full” in the tummy, gas, poor digestion and the production of phlegm (like sinus congestion). In Chinese Medicine we say that dairy produces “dampness”.
Avoid dairy products for three weeks and see if you find any difference in the intensity and duration of your menstrual cramps. If you do, then reintroduce the dairy products that you enjoy most one by one. For example, the first week after you dairy “fast”, reintroduce cheese and pay attention to how you feel both physically and emotionally. Do the same with the rest of the products, paying close attention at the messages that your body is giving you.
- How do I feel after eating too much of junk food and coffee? (Follow the same guidelines as for the dairy products).
- How do I feel after eating too much refined sugar? Yes, you are right! Those account for cookies, chocolate chips, candies, ice-creams and…..you fill in the blank.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and vinegar around the time of your menstrual period as well as fats, sugars and raw foods (except berries) and dairy products. A nice baked yam may quell your cravings for something sweet!
Some ideas to relieve/cope with stress:
- Keep a journal.
- Acupuncture (you can use the acupressure points learned in class on yourself and also on your friends. Teach them how to do the acupressure and invite them to help you as well!)
- Exercise “honesty” with yourself regarding the way/s you truly feel about things and people.
Home remedies that can help alleviate menstrual cramps
Dietary adjustments and a close attention to your stress levels will help menstrual cramps as much as the following simple recipes and suggestions:
6 parts Raspberry leaves
4 parts Chamomile flowers
2 parts Rose petals
1 part Ginger root (fresh or dried)
1 part Licorice root (ground or slices)
1 part of Rosemary (herb)
Other herbs that you can choose from are: Bilberry, Chasteberry, Chinese Angelica, Kava kava, Redclover, Strawberry leaf, Cramp bark, black cohosh, Jamaican dogwood, Valerian leaf.
Goddess tea for abdominal bloating, distention and pain
Make a tea by boiling 1 teaspoon each of hawthorn, cinnamon and turmeric in 3 ½ cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 3 cups daily
Make a broth by boiling 3 slices of ginger, 1 chopped green onion, 1 fennel bulb, the dried peel of a small orange and a pinch of black pepper in 3 ½ cups of water for 10 min. Strain and drink 1 cup 3 times a day beginning one week prior to the onset on menstruation
A woman’s Bath
2 tablespoons Epson Salts
5 drops Lavender essential oil
2 drops Cypress essential oil
2 drops Nutmeg essential oil
2 drops Peppermint essential oil
Add the essential oils to the salt. Mix well. Fill up your bath tub and add the aromatic salt in. Soak for no more than 20 min. Do this a few days before your period comes. If you do not have a bath tub, you can mix the essential oils in 1 tablespoon of carrier oil such as olive oil, almond oil, sesame oil… and rub your tummy every day for 1 week before as well as throughout your period.
Other essential oils that you can use: chamomile, basil, carrot sees, frankincense, clary sage, juniper, jasmine, marjoram and rosemary.
Castor Oil Packs
This is my favorite recipe. Truly simple and effective. Please follow this link on how to make and use your packs.
Use the packs at least three times a week especially during the week before your period. Avoid using the Castor oil pack during your period, especially if you have heavy bleeding.
Ginger Oil Rub
During your period you can rub ginger oil over the area between your navel and your pubic bone and place a heating pad or hot water bottle over such area for 30 min to relieve pain. You can juice or grate and drain the ginger root and mix it with some sesame seed or olive oil to make your ginger oil potion!
Enjoy and remember to always follow your deepest intuition by asking: how does this feel to me?
Yamin Chehin L.Ac
“Women’s bodies, Women’s wisdom”. Dr Christian Northrup
“Secrets of self healing”. Dr Maoshing Ni
Aromatherapy. Soothing remedies to rejuvenate, restore and heal”. Valerie Gennari