Natural herbal & homeopathic remedies for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
HEALTH HERBS & NUTRITION - REMEDIES - MENSTRUAL CRAMPS (DYSMENORRHEA)

· General Description

· Symptoms

· Causes

· Herbal & Homeopathic Remedies

· Helpful Dietary Habits

· Dos and Don'ts

Natural herbal & homeopath products for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

General description & overview of Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods


Menstrual cramps are pains in the abdominal (belly) and pelvic areas that are experienced by a woman as a result of her menstrual period. Menstrual cramps are not the same as the discomfort felt during premenstrual syndrome (PMS), although the symptoms of both disorders can sometimes be experienced as a continual process. Many women suffer from both PMS and menstrual cramps.

Cramps may appear at an early stage in puberty or as a secondary complaint, occurring after several years of pain-free cycles. Menstrual cramps can range from mild to quite severe. The pains can take the form of simple cramps or may be so incapacitating that the sufferer is forced to take to her bed.

Menstrual pain is a common gynecological complaint in adolescents, but the majority of cases are not associated with a disease.

Herbal & homeopathic products recommended for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Dong Quai™

Promotes a healthy reproductive system, premenstrual, menstrual and menopausal health.

Product Details

Femalite™

Maintain normal emotional and hormonal balance during PMS.

Product Details


What is dysmenorrhea?

The medical term for menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation. There are two types of dysmenorrhea, primary and secondary.

In primary dysmenorrhea, there is no underlying gynecologic problem causing the pain. This type of cramping may begin within six months to a year following menarche (the beginning of menstruation), the time when a girl starts having menstrual periods. Menstrual cramps typically do not begin until ovulatory menstrual cycles (when an egg is released from the ovaries) occur, and actual menstrual bleeding usually begins before the onset of ovulation. Therefore, an adolescent girl may not experience dysmenorrhea until months to years following the onset of menstruation. The pain tends to decrease with age and very often resolves after childbirth.

In secondary dysmenorrhea, some underlying abnormal condition (usually involving a woman's reproductive system like endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease) contributes to the menstrual pain. Secondary dysmenorrhea may be evident at menarche but, more often, the condition develops later and tends to increase in intensity over time.


Natural remedies & cures for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods. As many as half of menstruating women are affected by dysmenorrhea, and of these, about 10% have severe dysmenorrhea, which greatly limits activities for one to three days each month. Surveys of adolescent girls show that over 90% of girls report having menstrual cramps.

Long-term prognosis (outlook) for menstrual cramps

In general, a woman's menstrual cramps do not worsen during her lifetime. In fact, the menstrual cramps of primary dysmenorrhea usually diminish with age and after pregnancy. This is thought to be due to the fact that the nerves of the uterus degenerate with age and disappear late in pregnancy, with only a portion of these nerves regenerating after childbirth.

When there is secondary dysmenorrhea with an underlying condition contributing to the pain, the prognosis depends on the successful treatment of that condition.

As women have learned more about their bodies and how to maintain them in maximum health, menstrual cramps have become less of a debilitating illness, and more often, merely a minor monthly inconvenience.

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Symptoms of Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods


Menstrual cramps are pains that begin in the lower abdomen and pelvis
, i.e. below the waistline. The discomfort may radiate to the lower back or legs. The cramps can be a quite painful or simply a dull ache. They can be periodic or continual.

Symptoms and degree of pain vary, but may include the following:

  • Abdominal cramping, bloating or dull ache that moves to lower back and legs

  • Headache and/or nausea, and they may lead, although infrequently, to the point of vomiting

  • Constipation or diarrhea (Remember, the prostaglandins which cause smooth muscles to contract are found in both the uterus and intestinal tract)

  • Frequent urination (in some cases)

  • Vomiting (not common)

Menstrual cramps usually start shortly before the menstrual period, peak within 24 hours after the onset of the pains, and subside again after a day or two.

Why are some cramps so painful?

Menstrual cramps are caused by the uterine contractions that occur in response to prostaglandins and other chemicals. The cramping sensation is intensified when clots or pieces of bloody tissue from the lining of the uterus pass through the cervix, especially if a woman's cervical canal is narrow.

The difference between menstrual cramps that are more painful and those that are less painful may be related to a woman's prostaglandin levels. Women with menstrual cramps have elevated levels of prostaglandins in the endometrium (uterine lining) when compared with women who do not experience cramps.

Herbal supplements for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods. Menstrual cramps are very similar to those a pregnant woman experiences when she is given prostaglandin as a medication to induce labor.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of menstrual cramps is usually made by the woman herself and reflects her individual perception of pain. Once a woman has experienced menstrual cramps, usually with the adolescent onset of her menses (monthly menstrual flow), she becomes well aware of the typical symptoms.

If you are experiencing severe menstrual cramps, consult your health practitioner. A pelvic exam will be performed to check for any abnormalities and signs of infection. Additional tests such as imaging tests (ultrasound, CT or MRI scan), a laparoscopy or hysteroscopy may be performed to determine the underlying cause of secondary dysmenorrhea.

Measurement of menstrual cramps

Menstrual cramps can be scientifically demonstrated by measuring the pressure within the uterus and the number and frequency of uterine contractions. During a normal menstrual period, the average woman has contractions of a low pressure (50-80 mm Hg), which last 15-30 seconds at a frequency of 1-4 contractions every 10 minutes. When a woman has menstrual cramps, her contractions are of a higher pressure (they may exceed 400 mm Hg), last longer than 90 seconds, and often occur less than 15 seconds apart.

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Causes of Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods


Each month, the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) builds up in preparation for a possible pregnancy. After ovulation, if the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, no pregnancy will result and the current lining of the uterus is no longer needed. The woman's estrogen and progesterone hormone levels decline, and the lining of the uterus becomes swollen and dies. It is then shed and will be replaced by a new lining in the next monthly cycle.

Primary dysmenorrhea is caused by strong uterine contractions brought on by an increase in prostaglandin. When the old uterine lining begins to break down, molecular compounds called prostaglandins are released. Prostaglandin is a hormone that causes muscle spasms of the uterus (endometrium). When the uterine muscles contract, they constrict the blood supply (vasoconstriction) to the endometrium. This contraction blocks the delivery of oxygen to the tissue of the endometrium, which, in turn, breaks down and dies. After the death of this tissue, the uterine contractions literally squeeze the old endometrial tissue through the cervix and out of the body by way of the vagina. Other substances known as leukotrienes, which are chemicals that play a role in the inflammatory response, are also elevated at this time and may be related to the development of menstrual cramps.

In case of secondary dysmenorrheal, there are a number of underlying conditions which can contribute to the pain including:

  • Endometriosis (inflammation of the lining of the uterus and cells from the uterine lining getting located in other areas of the body)

  • Blood and tissue being discharged through a narrow cervix

  • Uterine fibroid (non-cancerous uterine growth that respond to estrogen levels) or ovarian cyst

  • Infections of the uterus

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

  • Intrauterine device (IUD)being used for contraception

  • Adenomyosis (a benign condition in which the cells of the inner uterine lining invade its muscular wall, the myometrium)

  • Adhesions (abnormal fibrous attachments between organs)

Homeopathic medicines for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods. Psychological factors also play a role in menstrual cramps. For example, it is widely accepted that emotional stress can increase the discomfort of menstrual cramps.

Other factors influencing menstrual cramps

Some other lesser known causes include:

  • An unusually narrow cervical canal tends to increase menstrual cramps

  • Backwards tilting of the uterus (a retroverted uterus) is yet another anatomical factor thought to contribute to menstrual cramps.

  • Lack of exercise is thought to definitely contribute to painful menstrual cramps.

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Herbal & homeopathic remedies useful in Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods


Over-the-counter medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen can relieve discomfort.

If cramping is severe, low dosage oral contraceptives may be prescribed to prevent ovulation which thereby reduces the production of prostaglandins. If you suffer from secondary dysmenorrhea, treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Treatment may include antibiotics for the infection, polyps to treat endometriosis or surgery to remove fibroids.

Natural and holistic treatments are a gentler and safer alternative to alleviate the pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps. Using herbal remedies helps to support the female reproductive system and promotes overall health and wellbeing.

Herbs such as Foeniculum vulgare (Sweet Fennel) acts as a liver tonic and helps to promote water balance while Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque Flower) is a soothing and supportive herb for the female reproductive system. In addition, Dong Quai (Angelica Sinesis) helps to promote hormonal harmony throughout the menstrual cycle and Melissa officinale (Lemon Balm) soothes and promotes stable mood and feelings.

  • Angelica senensis (Don Quai) acts as a hormonal tonic, and is an indispensable herb for supporting female reproductive health. A very highly regarded medicinal herb in traditional Chinese Medicine, Don Quai acts as a tonic herb for the reproductive system and will address the overall health of your reproductive organs. It is especially useful in maintaining regular periods and balanced estrogen levels. Don Quai is also a well-known liver tonic. Research has investigated the supportive abilities of this herb in maintaining healthy menstrual cycles. It has an adaptogenic effect on the female hormonal system. Our remedy contains Angelica Sinesis in its 100% pure form.

  • Foeniculum vulgare (Sweet Fennel) is used to support water balance and acts as a liver tonic. It has been studied for its ability to support regular healthy menstrual periods.

  • Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque Flower)  is a soothing and supportive herb for the female reproductive system

  • Melissa officinale (Lemon Balm) soothes and helps to maintain stable mood and feelings of well-being. It has been studied for its ability to promote balanced mood and calm.

   

Herbal & homeopathic products recommended for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Dong Quai for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Dong Quai™

Promotes a healthy reproductive system, premenstrual, menstrual and menopausal health.

Product Details

Femalite for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Femalite™

Maintain normal emotional and hormonal balance during PMS.

Product Details

 

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Dietary recommendations & restrictions in Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

  • Some physicians advise that alcohol consumption should be avoided, or at least limited, by women experiencing menstrual pain, because alcohol depletes stores of certain nutrients and alters the metabolism of carbohydrates, which in turn might worsen muscle spasms. Alcohol can also interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize hormones. In theory, this might result in elevated estrogen levels, increased fluid and salt retention, and heavier menstrual flow. If you must drink, limit yourself to a glass or two of light wine.

  • Eliminate refined foods, sugar, and methylxanthines (coffee and chocolate). The caffeine in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola can also contribute to menstrual discomfort by making you nervous. The oils in coffee also may irritate your intestines.

  • Magnesium and vitamin B6 rich diet helps to promote hormone production and induce relaxation. Calcium may help prevent menstrual cramps by maintaining normal muscle tone. Likewise, magnesium also plays a role in controlling muscle tone and could be important in preventing menstrual cramps. Vitamin E to improve blood supply to muscles. In all, these nutrients help to relax the walls of blood vessels, reducing cramping sensations. A well- balanced, mixed diet comprising meat, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, green leafy vegetables, fruits, cold-pressed oils, eggs, wheat germ, sweet potatoes, dairy products, shellfish and nuts should provide you with all the above mentioned minerals and vitamins.

  • Take essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega 6 oils such as flaxseed, evening primrose, or borage oil) rich foods to reduce inflammation and/or support hormone production. You may increase the intake of essential fatty acids, found in cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds.

  • Too many women tend to skip meals and consume excessive amounts of sweets and salty foods just at the time when they should be even more careful about their diet. Remember, even if your well- balanced, mixed diet doesn’t provide you with relief from cramps immensely, it will dramatically improve your overall sense of well-being. Salty and sweet junk food will definitely make you feel bloated and sluggish. Also, go for small meals spaced out well throughout the day instead of fewer, heavier meals.


Alternative medicines, remedies & cures for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods. Warm up from inside by opting for hot herbal teas. This will increase the blood flow and relax your muscles, particularly of the cramped and congested pelvic area. Options of herbal teas include red raspberry-leaf tea, cramp bark (Viburnum opulus), chamomile, and ginger.

Dos and don'ts (precautionary measures) in Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Home care for common menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhea)


The following methods can relieve pelvic pain.

  • Castor oil pack - Apply oil directly to skin, cover with a clean soft cloth (for example, flannel) and plastic wrap. Place a heat source (hot water bottle or heating pad) over the pack and let sit for 30 to 60 minutes. For best results use 3 consecutive days in 1 week.
  • Contrast sitz baths - Use two basins that you can comfortably sit in. Sit in hot water for 3 minutes, then in cold water for 1 minute. Repeat this three times to complete one set. Do one to two sets per day 3 to 4 days per week.
  • Alternatively, you can go for a hot Epsom salt soak. Add 1 cup Epsom salts to soothe nerves and relax muscles in a hot water tub. The warmth helps to relax knotted-up muscles in the uterus.
  • When you feel cramps coming on, go for a walk or run, or go swimming. You may also get on an exercise bike and use it regularly. Any kind of exercise helps to inhibit prostaglandin production and boosts the release of pain-killing endorphins. Exercise also relieves bloating.
  • Contradictorily, many women feel the need to lie still while experiencing menstrual cramps, while others find that exercise helps relieve the pain of dysmenorrhea. This variation from woman to woman may explain why some researchers report that exercise makes symptoms worse, though most studies report that exercise appears helpful.
  • Yoga stretches during your periods can also help. One position in yoga goes like this: Kneel on the floor and sit on your heels. Bring your forehead to the floor against your body. Close your eyes. Hold the position for as long as it is comfortable.

Herbal cures for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods. Having sex with orgasm is immensely helpful in relieving menstrual cramps as the vigorous muscle action moves blood and other fluids away from congested organs.

Holistic approaches that may be helpful

Relaxation techniques have been used with some success to alleviate dysmenorrhea in some young women. According to one preliminary study, the symptoms of menstrual cramps, nausea, irritability, and poor concentration greatly improved after 20-minute relaxation sessions twice per week.


Acupuncture


Acupuncture has become a popular treatment for dysmenorrhea. Acupuncturists treat people with dysmenorrhea based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of energy (called qi) located in various meridians. In the case of dysmenorrhea, a qi deficiency is usually detected in the liver and spleen meridians. Moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) is often added to enhance needling treatment, and qualified practitioners may also recommend herbal or dietary treatments.

Studies suggest that more than 85% of women treated with acupuncture for dysmenorrhea had complete cessation of pain for three consecutive menstrual periods. The National Institutes of Health recommend acupuncture as either a supplemental or alternative treatment for dysmennorhea. This recommendation is supported by a well-designed trial involving 43 women with dysmenorrhea. Women treated with acupuncture showed a dramatic reduction in both pain and the need for pain medication


Acupressure


Your foot contains trigger points that are believed to be connected along internal energy pathways to your pelvic area. You may yourself feel for those spots that become tender during your periods. They lie in the depressions above either side of your heel. Gently press in with your thumb and fingertips. Do the same along the sides of your Achilles tendon, moving up toward your calf muscle. Do this on either foot for a couple of minutes.


Chiropractic


Some people with dysmenorrhea may benefit from spinal manipulation (particularly in areas that supply sensory and motor impulses to the uterus and lower back). Studies of women with a diagnosis or history of primary dysmenorrhea have found that spinal manipulation improves symptoms, but no more effectively than sham manipulation. Sham manipulation refers to maneuvers that shift soft tissues surrounding the bone but do not actually adjust the spine or joint. In some studies, even a single treatment of spinal manipulation to the low back and pelvis reports much relief.

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Herbal & homeopathic products recommended for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) & painful periods

Dong Quai™

Promotes a healthy reproductive system, premenstrual, menstrual and menopausal health.

Product Details

Femalite™

Maintain normal emotional and hormonal balance during PMS.

Product Details

 


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