It’s your time of the month and you’re experiencing aching cramps. You take another pill to relieve the pain thinking this is normal. At least that’s what I used to say to myself… well, it’s not! What was happening inside my body for pain to accompany my period? Before menstruation occurs, the body releases an egg to get fertilized and implanted in the growing endometrial nutrient rich layer of the uterus. If this does not take place, the unfertilized egg along with the uterine lining sheds, then you see your period. Contractions of the uterus must begin to get the blood flowing out. This is when prostaglandins are formed, a hormone like substance involved in many functions in the body. Some are responsible for the minute movement in the muscle layer of your uterus. Other types of prostaglandins are involved in inflammation that leads to the sensation of pain! When inflammation is present, the body responds by constricting its blood flow. Limited blood flow to the uterus decreases its oxygen supply that may be contributing to more pain with your menstruation.
From my experience, this is what I learned over the years to help alleviate menstrual cramps so that they won’t return the next time around.
1) Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids abundant in seeds, nuts and fatty fish. Inflammatory prostaglandins are made from omega 6 fatty acids. Meat, dairy and eggs are all high sources of this fat. Focusing on eating less land animal products while consuming more omega 3 fats will decrease proinflammatory substances including the prostaglandins involved in pain.
2) Incorporate a variety of green vegetables in your diet. Magnesium is found in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. This mineral is known as a muscle relaxant to help lessen cramping of the uterus while allowing more blood and oxygen to flow through the tissue.
3) Limit your intake of unhealthy foods like high sugar, fried and processed foods. Ingesting too much of these junk foods may contribute more to the inflammation involved in menstrual pain.
4) Decrease overall stress to help relax muscles. A great stress reliever is regular physical activity which will also aid with overall blood flow. This allows more oxygen and other nutrients to travel throughout your body including the pelvic area.
5) Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily. A lot of water is lost through your menstruation so it’s important to replenish your fluids. Bloating may indicate that the body is actually dehydrated. Water always keeps things flowing so your period can be over and done with.
6) Supplement to replenish nutrients lost through your period. Taking a good quality multivitamin, omega 3 fish oils, magnesium or a B complex vitamin are good examples to add on top of eating healthy meals. As mentioned above, omega 3 and magnesium supplementation may help with cramps, B vitamins may offer pain relief too.
7) Place a castor oil pack over the abdomen to help decrease inflammation around the uterus. Castor oil is known to contain ricinoleic acid, when absorbed through the skin it can have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure not to use castor oil packs during menstruation due to the fact it may lead to more bleeding than usual.
I remember back in the day, I had the worse cramps that prevented me from doing my normal day to day activities. If you want to empower yourself rather than giving in to taking pain reliever medication like I used to in the past, please try these 7 steps. After learning more about my body and what it needs, I don’t have to take any more pain meds because I no longer have issues with my monthly period. Being mindful on how to be proactive in keeping menstrual cramps away so that they don’t have to happen is great selfcare.
Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™