3 Home Remedies To Alleviate Painful Periods

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Painful periods can be one of the most life-disrupting part of a woman's cycle interfering with some of the simplest daily activities. Although commonly associated with endometriosis, women can have pain with their periods without having this condition. These pains can come in a variety of combinations. Some women experience sharp abdominal discomfort while others get constant low back ache. It can also radiate down the legs into your thighs. One of the most commonly taken medications are anti-inflammatories such as Advil. Unfortunately, if these medications are taken too regularly, they can inhibit ovulation. One study showed how Advil taken for 10 days had a 75% chance to inhibit ovulation. (Pain Medications Block Ovulation) So what are some safe options to help those who experience painful periods? Here are 3 remedies that can help which everyone has at home.

 3 Home Remedies To Help Relieve Painful Periods 

1 - Heat 
During your period the uterus contracts in order to help shed the lining. This can cause the uncomfortable cramping many women feel. By adding heat, it will help to both relax the uterus (it is a muscle) as well as increase blood flow. It is most commonly put over the abdomen but can also add relief when placed over the lower back or sacrum.  
2 - Movement - exercise
Exercise can help decrease menstrual pain in several different ways. As mentioned above, improvement in blood flow can generally help decrease the discomfort. Movement helps to increase blood flow.  When the pain is severe some moderate to intense exercise may be too much. Yoga could be a good option. This type of exercise helps decrease period pain by improving blood flow, focusing on breath work and lowering stress hormones. All of these support the health of your cycle.   
If you're feeling up to it, more moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can also help if your flow isn't too heavy. This type of exercise will release endorphins which increase blood flow, support a mood boost and decrease the period pain. Even a quick 20-minute walk outside is enough to get the heart rate up to notice some improvements.  
3 - Diet
The foods we eat on a daily basis can either aggravate menstrual pain or help to decrease it. Generally speaking, a diet high in processed foods which aggravate inflammation will make things worse. A diet high in fibre, water and vegetables will help decrease the pain. Here are a few suggestions I find useful in my practice to help alleviate menstrual pain.  
Water - Our muscles need water to properly function and dehydration will aggravate cramping. Drink several litres of water a day if possible.  
Salmon - Omega 3 rich foods such as this have an anti-inflammatory action and improve blood flow
Bananas - This fruit is high in both potassium and magnesium which is good to help relax your muscles and support your mood.  
Dark Leafy Greens - Calcium rich vegetables can help decrease inflammation.
House Hold Herbs - Fennel, Cinnamon and Ginger have studies to support their use to decrease pain during your period. 

A few extra tips to beat Painful Periods!

1 - Chinese Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine can be very effective in the treatment of painful periods but need to be carefully prescribed to have this success. There are hundreds of different herbal combinations used to help relieve period pain. The exact herbal formula will depend on the Doctors own diagnosis for their specific patient.  Relief is often seen within 1 - 3 months of treatment.  
Herbal Medicine can be effective in the treatment of painful periods - Study 
Chinese Herbal Medicine Helps with Dysmenorrhea and Pelvic Pain - Study
2 - Acupuncture
This Chinese medical procedure places needles in specific areas of the body which triggers the body's own healing response. This can improve circulation, regulate hormones and decrease inflammation, all of which can help ameliorate pain. Acupuncture is most effective when done with multiple treatments and not just a 1 off treatment. Studies have both shown a decrease in the pain of their period as well as an overall improvement in the quality of life.  
To learn more about the Acubalance approach in the treatment of painful periods please follow this link. To ask more questions please call to set up a 15 minute over the phone Q&A.   
Best of Health
Dr. Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Fellow of the ABORM 
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