Soothe menstrual cramps without heading to the pharmacy
Does your time of the month make you want to hide under the duvet? Period pain is a normal part of the menstrual cycle and can vary from a dull but constant ache to intense spasms as the muscular wall of the womb contracts. Although it is not known why some women suffer more severe pain than others, Linda Booth therapist and author of The Inside Story – how your colon holds the key to your total wellbeing, and what you should do about it! has shared six natural ways for us to help ease cramps.
“In certain cultures, menstruation is a time for women to retreat and practise spiritual rituals. Whilst this may not be widely accepted in Western culture, making time to relax especially during the first two days of the period is of importance,” explains Linda. “Stress is known to throw hormones off balance which can make PMS symptoms worse.” Try to go to bed a couple of hours earlier, curl up on the sofa and read a book or practise yoga to help you soothe your mind and in turn your body.
“Leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts, seeds and beans are all great sources of this relaxing mineral. As well as helping to balance hormones, magnesium acts as a natural painkiller by easing tension in blood vessels and muscles,” Linda explains. We don't need telling twice to enjoy a treat of dark choc...
“Caffeine may do a great job of keeping us awake, but it also makes PMS symptoms worse,” Linda states. “Excess consumption of more than one cup a day can play havoc with our hormones as well as increase tension,” she adds. Instead of a skinny latte, opt for green tea which is high in phenolics which studies suggest can inhibit cramps, or calming chamomile.
Exercise may be the last thing that you feel like doing when in pain, however, it may also be one of the most beneficial practises. “Feel good hormones released during exercise can act as a natural painkiller,” says Linda. “You won't need to run a marathon to achieve the benefits either. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking is sufficient.”
As much as we wish it was, sugar just isn't good for the body. “While your body is dealing with large quantities of sugar, it takes the focus away from maintaining the correct balance of female hormones,” Linda states. “Reducing sugar intake is therefore crucial for improving PMS symptoms.”
“With any hormone, once it has done its job, we need to ensure that our bodies get rid of it. Without the "getting rid" part, the hormone would recirculate with potentially detrimental effects,” Linda says. “A way to ensure that oestrogen doesn't recirculate is to up our fibre intake, since fibre binds to oestrogen and allows it to be carried out of the body.” Oats, nuts, seeds and vegetables are all good sources of fibre. Alternatively you can also try a fibre supplement such as Just For Tummies. “A high-fibre diet will also help prevent constipation which can make period pain worse due to the pressure from the bloated bowel pressing on the uterus,” Linda adds.
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