Sorry to burst your hot water bottle bubble, but Acupuncture is even better at treating menstrual cramps…
Growing up I had the worst cramps. I dreaded my period each month, but I accepted cramps as a “normal” part of womanhood, as did my sisters and many of my friends. It wasn't until an acupuncturist explained to me that cramps, pain and discomfort during my period wasn’t “normal”….that cramps were a message from my body telling me that I was out of balance, hormonally and energetically. She explained that a healthy and balanced body should have a relatively comfortable period, cramp free. This news shocked me. Even more shocking was that after 3 months of getting regular acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbs, my cramps were totally gone. Inspired, I decided to earn my degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and to focus on treating women's health conditions with Acupuncture. Now, I get to be the one to inform other women that they don't have to be in pain!
First, let’s talk a little about how this all works...
The menstrual cycle is a delicate process that is easily disrupted by stress, overwork, fatigue, and diet. A woman’s cycle involves a number of hormones working in harmony, and if one hormone is out of balance, it creates a cascade of imbalance that can result in cramps, pain, and symptoms of PMS.
In TCM terms, there are meridians (energy pathways) that flow to the female reproductive organs. For the ovaries and uterus to be in balance, the kidneys, liver and spleen meridians must also be in balance. Additionally, for natural hormonal transitions to occur throughout the menstrual cycle, our energy (Qi) and blood need to circulate smoothly. When Qi and blood circulation is sluggish or obstructed, our hormone transitions become disrupted, causing significant discomfort. Acupuncture encourages the smooth flow of Qi and healthy blood circulation. It also stimulates the body’s own healing process and natural production of hormones, helping to restore health and harmony to the entire reproductive system.
In addition to getting regular acupuncture treatment and taking Chinese herbs when prescribed, here are some suggestions to make your period a more comfortable, less dreaded time of the month…
1. Get regular cardio exercise, especially during the week before your period. This moves Qi and blood and smooths hormonal transitions.
2. Avoid alcohol, coffee, salt and processed foods, especially during the week before your period. This reduces inflammation.
3. Eat plenty of vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables and dark leafy greens. Prioritize unsaturated fats such as olive oil and whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal. This ensures healthy hormone production.
4. Apply castor oil packs to your low abdomen before and during your period to improve blood circulation and reduce cramping in the area.
5. Take the following vitamins, as needed: Magnesium 200mg/day for cramps, bloating and sweet cravings, Vitamin B6 60mg/day for cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings, Turmeric 1 capsule/day for cramps and bloating, Rhodiola 200mg/day for hormone regulation and anxiety, Fish Oil/Omega 3 2000mg/day for cramps, Calcium 1200mg/day for weepiness, Vitamin E 400mg/day for breast tenderness
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