by: Karina Klug, Wellness Buyer
I sit down to write this article about “that time of the month” with a bar of Chocolove dark chocolate, invoking chocolate as an inspiration, being that it is many women’s solace in times of hormonal imbalance. Interestingly, I have read that a craving for chocolate may indicate a magnesium deficiency. Furthermore, a lack of sufficient magnesium has been linked to menstrual cramps. Many girls and women experience premenstrual symptoms. These often include cramps, irritability, headaches, moodiness, depression, fatigue, and bloating. Dubbed Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) this multi-faceted extravaganza of emotional, physical and psychological upset can be challenging for the woman and those around her.
In the book Super Immunity for Kids by Leo Galland, M.D, the author speaks to the fact that taking pain killing drugs for cramps may relieve the symptoms but does not address their frequent cause. He later goes on to state, “I have never seen a case of menstrual cramps that did not respond to EFAs (essential fatty acids) and magnesium.” Dr. Galland recommends the following to lessen or stop menstrual cramps – eat a low-saturated fat diet and supplement with Omega-3 EFAs as well as with magnesium.
I first learned of the connection between pre-menstrual symptoms and a lack of omega-3 EFAs during training with the educator for Nordic Naturals, Stuart Tomc. I contacted Stuart for a refresher course and he reiterated his earlier teaching by saying, “Menstrual cramps can be caused by a number of issues and oftentimes there is more than one issue to correct. Estrogen dominance, magnesium deficiency, and omega-3 to omega-6 imbalances are some of the main issues. In general, Western diets contain too few omega-3 fats and too many omega-6 fats. Over consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, found in vegetable oils, results in chronic inflammation. The predominance of these omega-6 fatty acids increases the requirement of omega-3 fats necessary to reach a healthy balance. Omega-3 fatty acids promote anti-inflammatory prostaglandin pathways. Menstrual cramps can be a result of this imbalance and the anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 fatty acids can really help to reduce or diminish this discomfort.” Stuart later refers to a study done that correlates low Omega-3 EFAs with menstrual pain at www.omega-research.com.
Another good resource is the book Fish Oil, The Natural Anti-Inflammatory by Dr. Joseph Maroon. Dr. Maroon finds that the pain many women experience while menstruating is connected with omega-6 fatty acids that produce prostaglandins that increase smooth muscle contractions. Dr. Maroon says that prostaglandins derived from omega-3 fatty acids do not cause such severe contractions.
As I mentioned the chocolate bar I ate during the writing of this article was Chocolove, and each bar comes with a love poem on the inside of the wrapper. This bar’s poem is actually a sonnet by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I found the first line of this sonnet to be particularly relevant for this subject matter – ‘O beauty, passing beauty! Sweetest sweet! How canst thou let me waste my youth in sighs?’
The following are tips that acquaintances and I have found particularly helpful during menstruation. My hope is that these tips allow you to begin to see menstruation as a passing beauty. Your experience may seem troublesome and uncomfortable at first glance, but handled with intention and care I hope you find it is an opportunity to nurture yourself and your spirit.
Find a qualified Mayan Abdominal Massage practitioner
“Cramps became a thing of the past for me. I got a Mayan Abdominal Massage, then did the self-massage, and found myself cramp-free for a long time.” To find a practitioner in your area refer to http://arvigomassage.com/practitioners_list.php
Supplement with Magnesium
“I wasn’t taking my Omega-3 and found myself getting menstrual cramps. By adding a daily magnesium supplement and starting back up on Omega-3s my cramps were eliminated! I currently use Source Naturals Magnesium Serene. Peter Gillham also makes Natural CALM. Nordic Naturals also make a product called Omega Woman, which is a blend of fish oil and evening primrose oil and is used by some women for hormonal support.”
Keep your socks on, stay warm
“Years ago I was told by a Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist that women should not go barefoot during menstruation and should keep their feet warm. The reason seemed to involve the intricacies of Chinese medicine. The herbalist went on to recommend warm drinks like ginger tea and soups for women and spoke of the importance of avoiding iced drinks and food during menstruation.”
Veriditas Menstrual Cramp Relief
In the Wellness Department, I have heard great reviews from customers and co-workers about this particular blend of organic essential oils. It is to be rubbed on the abdomen and lower back for pain relief. The combination of Organic Anise, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Marjoram and Lavender also smells wonderful.
Don’t discount your feelings
It’s true that emotions can run a bit wild during this time. This is a chance to release and cleanse angers or resentments that have built up and are coming to surface. Many women are used to taking care of many people and things before they tend to themselves. Take time to honor what emotions come up for you while you are menstruating. Step back and find a healthy constructive way to express these emotions before they become overwhelming.
Take the hint
Many women feel fatigued and drained during menstruation. Find a way to rest, even in little ways. Put your feet up, get a massage, and go to bed an hour early.
Stop to smell the roses
Keep fresh flowers in your home and surround yourself with beauty and calm as much as possible. Consider using flower essences. Flower essences are extracts from flowers that are used to assist with emotional well-being. There are topical flower essences like FES Mugwort Moon Magic, which one can rub on abdominal area during menstruation. Flower essences can also be used internally. Some popular flower essences for PMS are Chamomile, Scarlet Monkeyflower, Willow, Alpine lily and Pomegranate.
As Gretchen mentions in her article, one can go to their doctor and get their blood checked for vitamin D levels. It is possible, however, to get too much vitamin D. I was told by Dr. Glen Nagel of Washington State that it is likely that most people in this northern hemisphere are experiencing low vitamin D levels. I have found Vitamin D3 to be helpful with mood and physical discomforts of menstruating. I have had women tell me that Vitamin D has significantly lessened their menstrual cramps as well.
Herb Pharm herbs and blends to consider, Willow Meadowsweet compound, Women’s Health Tonic, Cramp Bark, Chaste Tree, Chamomile. Please review the Therapeutic Herb Manual by Ed Smith in our reference library to decipher which may be most fitting to you as an individual.