Period Pain Is Officially as Bad as a Heart Attack
Period pain is officially as bad as a heart attack, according to recent research, and the only way to alleviate the sometimes, excruciating, period pain is to load up on pain relief.
With codeine being recently made prescription- only, in an effort to clamp down on over-reliance on prescription medication we checked in with Erika Morvay, Fusion Health Naturopath and Holistic Nutritionist who discusses natural menstrual cramp remedies that actually work
Interview with Erika Morvay
Question: Can you explain the cause of period pain?
Erika Morvay: Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is commonly experienced by women during the reproductive stages of their life and can be divided into two broad categories:
Primary dysmenorrhea: occurring in absence of pelvic pathology
Secondary dysmenorrhea: caused by an underlying medical condition
Normal period pain is caused by the release of prostaglandins from the uterus. Some mild pain on the first or second day is normal and it shouldn't interfere with your daily life. However more severe pain is not normal and it should always be investigated as it can be caused by an underlying medical condition and can worsen with age.
Question: How can we alleviate our period pain without loading up on pain relief?
Erika Morvay: Menstrual cycle and any associated symptoms are a reflection of a woman's general health and wellbeing.
Generally speaking removing inflammatory foods from the diet, adding high quality whole foods, enjoying regular exercise, managing stress and allowing plenty of time for rest, play and self care is a good start.
I also encourage every woman to educate herself about the basic physiology of the body, especially the reproductive cycle. Once you understand this magical process that happens roughly every 21-35 days, you'd have a much better appreciation for yourself as a woman and feel more empowered.
Underlying casue of period pain may be different for each woman, therefore I suggest working with a qualified holistic health care practitioner. There are specific nutrients and natural herbal remedies, which may assist with management of period pain.
Question: What are the most effective herbal remedies for period pain relief?
Erika Morvay: According to Chinese medicine theory, pain is related to stagnation of Qi (energy) and blood in the body. Herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therefore mostly rely on -invigorating Qi' and blood in the channels that will move stagnation to address pain and the symptoms associated with it.
Turmeric contains an active compound curcumin, which provides anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain-relieving actions. In traditional Chinese medicine terms turmeric invigorates the blood and Qi to ease pain due to stagnation.
Ginger has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve pain, including period pain and reduce inflammation, while Willow Bark has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine as an analgesic (pain-relieving) herb for centuries.
Tienchi Ginseng is traditionally used in TCM to dispel blood stagnation and reduce bleeding, including heavy menstrual bleeding and can be combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs.
In TCM White Peony is said to nourish the blood and is an important herb to regulate menstruation and alleviate pain from menstrual cramps. Ligusticum and Angelica are also used in TCM to invigorate the blood and promote the movement of Qi – commonly used in the management of menstrual disorders including period pain.
Question: Are there certain foods that may ease period pain and cramping?
Erika Morvay: I recommend eating more foods rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, especially before and during period. These include:
Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits
Fatty fish rich in Omega 3's such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
Probiotic rich foods
Foods rich in magnesium and zinc
Gelatin rich cuts of meat (grass fed/free range)
Spices such as ginger and turmeric
Fresh culinary herbs
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Before taking any supplements, seek advice from your healthcare professional. Always read the label and use only as directed.
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