Recently a friend asked me if I had any advice for painful menstrual cramps. She said, “The common treatment is the birth control pill. Do you know any other treatment?’
When my daughters went through the teen years we looked for natural remedies for menstrual irregularities. As mom and nurse, I was concerned about the widespread use of the birth control pill for every menstrual cycle problem. I researched health practices that benefit and support the hormonal system.
Painful menstrual cramps are usually caused by endometriosis or a hormonal imbalance. A physical exam by a midwife or gynecologist can rule out other problems. If the recommendation for treatment is ibuprofen and/or the birth control pill, it is worthwhile to consider nutrition and herbal remedies.
Recommendations that I have found in several sources include:
- Eliminate or minimize the amount of refined sugar in the diet. When the body digests refined sugar it depletes the B vitamins– our stress vitamins. Stress places a burden on the delicate hormonal system.
- Moderate the amount of meat in the diet. Meat contains arachidonic acid. This substance increases muscle contractions and inflammation.
- Increase the amount of magnesium rich foods in the diet: whole grains, beans, nuts and almond butter. Magnesium helps muscles relax.
- Helpful teas that provide easily absorbed minerals are: raspberry leaf tea and nettle tea.
- Gamma-linolenic acid has a positive effect on prostaglandin production, regulating it and decreasing pain. A supplement of evening primrose oil or black currant seed oil provides GLA.
I have found these books to be a good source of information:
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar
The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy by Shonda Parker
The NaProTechnology Revolution by Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D.