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Get ready ladies because today we are talking periods. There are so many slang words to describe this time of the month, most of which paint this natural process as an unpleasant experience. And for many women, having their period can be a pain, literally. But it doesn’t have to be, and in fact it shouldn’t be. For this post, I’ll address Primary Dysmenorrhoea: menstrual cramping not associated with an underlying condition such as fibroids, ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Certainly, these conditions need to be ruled out if you are experiencing severe menstrual cramps, and a primary health care provider should be consulted. Primary dysmenorrhoea can be caused by a number of factors including:

High dairy and red meat intake which promotes the formation of inflammatory molecules and causes uterine contractions and pain.
High sugar intake which causes high insulin levels and in turn activates an enzyme that converts healthy fats into inflammatory molecules that trigger pain.
Poor circulation and low oxygen supply to the uterus as a result of lack of exercise or poor breathing.
Constipation and poor liver detoxification which contribute to pelvic inflammation and creates congestion, swelling and pain.

In addition to regular exercise and eating an anti-inflammatory diet that focuses on whole grains, lean protein and plenty of vegetables, here are a few things you can do to prevent and treat menstrual cramping:

Acupuncture: In Chinese medicine, menstrual cramps are related to stagnation of Blood, Qi or even emotions like anger or resentment. Acupuncture helps move these blockages and balance your system as a whole.
2 tbsp of freshly ground flax per day helps balance hormones, reduce inflammation and decrease bowel toxicity.
Vitamin B6: improves liver detoxification and production of anti-inflammatory molecules, helps manage stress.
Magnesium: relaxes the pelvic muscles, helps regulate blood sugar and works well to prevent cramps and to treat them acutely.
Under the guidance of a Naturopath or an Herbalist, consider herbs like Crampbark, Skullcap, Black Cohosh or Dandelion to treat cramps. Herbal medicine is amazing for balancing hormones and for treating the acute pain of menstrual cramps.
Castor oil pack on the lower abdomen: castor oil is deeply absorbed into your tissue to help stimulate blood flow to the area. This serves to clear out inflammatory debris, relax muscles and improve digestion. All you need is a bottle of castor oil, a piece of flannel, a towel and a hot water bottle. Saturate the flannel with oil, place it on your lower abdomen, cover with the towel and hot water bottle and relax for 15-20min 3 nights/week. Do not use while you have your period.

I’ll leave you with an affirmation about menstrual problems from Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”:

“I accept my full power as a woman and accept all my bodily processes as normal and natural. I love and approve of myself.”

– originally posted on the Semperviva Yoga Blog