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Prevention & Treatment of Menstrual Cramps  

Are there ways to help prevent and relieve menstrual cramps?

Yes, there are many ways to help prevent and relieve menstrual cramping. For information on the causes of menstrual cramping, see our Q&A called Menstrual Cramps.

The intensity of menstrual cramps can range from mild to severe. If you have severe menstrual cramping, you should consult with your gynecologist and integrative medical physician immediately to rule out the presence of medical conditions of the ovaries or uterus.

There are a variety of ways to help prevent and treat menstrual cramps. Among the approaches available are the following naturopathic recommendations (such as nutritional modifications, nutritional supplements, behavior changes, exercise, massaging pressure points, treatment with heat and cold, and botanical remedies) and homeopathic remedies:[1-3]

• Reduce your consumption of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, black tea, and decaffeinated black tea, especially before your period.
• Reduce or eliminate drinking alcoholic beverages.
• Drink a lot of water.
• Eat a diet that is abundant in fresh organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.
• Eat freshly-caught, cold-water fish (such as halibut, herring, tuna, salmon, and sardines).
• Reduce intake of meat, non-organically-raised poultry, and dairy foods, as these foods can increase the production of prostaglandins in the body.
• If you typically ate poultry, shift to organically-raised poultry.
• Reduce intake of salt before your period.
• Take a megavitamin and mineral supplement containing vitamin B3 (also called niacin; 500 mg twice daily), vitamin E (400 mg once daily), magnesium citrate malate (400 mg twice daily), and either calcium citrate malate or calcium citrate (500 mg four times a day).
• Take either (a) a fish oil supplement containing omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids and DHA, EPA, and GLA to inhibit the production of certain prostaglandins,
or (b) a supplement containing black current oil, borage oil, or evening primrose oil.
• Avoid smoking.
• Practice aerobic exercise regularly.
• Perform yoga positions that help to balance the function of the uterus.
• Avoid using intra-uterine devices (IUDs) for contraception, as they can increase menstrual cramping.
• Consider using sanitary pads rather than tampons during your period.
• If you experience bloating along with menstrual cramps, take vitamin B6 (100 mg three times daily, from mid-cycle through the time that the bloating and cramping cease each month).
• When you experience menstrual cramps, massage the pressure points to enhance circulation of blood, increase energy, and provide relief
• When you experience menstrual cramps, do stretching exercises, walk, and do whatever other physical exercises that bring relief.
• When you experience menstrual cramps, use treatment with heat (such as a heating pad), cold (such as ice packs), or alternate a hot sitz bath followed by a cold sitz bath.
• When you experience menstrual cramps, take more frequent doses of vitamin B3. Consult an integrative medical physician or a naturopath for guidance on the dose that is appropriate for you.
• When you experience menstrual cramps, take a botanical remedy such as black cohosh (which has estrogen-like effects) to help decrease menstrual cramping, tincture of Viburnum (cramp bark) to help reduce menstrual cramping, or valerian root to help reduce uterine spasms and assist you in relaxing. Consult an integrative medical physician or a naturopath for guidance on selection of the proper botanical remedy and dose that is appropriate for you.
• Take one of the following homeopathic remedies: Belladonna, Bryonia, Cactus randifolia, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Chamomilla, Cimicifuga, Colocynthis, Lachesis mutus, Magnesia phosphorica, Medorrhinum, Nux vomica, or Pulstilla), The usual dosage is 3 pellets of a 30C strength preparation (meaning that the pellet was prepared by 30 dilutions, at 1:100 each time), given 3 times daily. However, be sure to consult a homeopath, a healthcare professional experienced in homeopathy, for guidance on selection of the one proper remedy and dose that is appropriate for you.

If the naturopathic and homeopathic approaches discussed above do not resolve the symptoms adequately, you can discuss the following options with your healthcare professionals:[1]

• Taking bio-identical hormone therapy (such as natural progesterone cream)
• Taking medications to relieve menstrual cramping, if naturopathic, homeopathic, and hormonal treatments do not relieve the pain adequately

Consult with your integrative medicine physician, your gynecologist, and your other healthcare professionals for guidance on management and treatment of menstrual cramping.

REFERENCES

1. J. Reichenberg-Ullman. Whole Woman Homeopathy. 2004. Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press.
2. I. Ikenze. Menopause & Homeopathy: A Guide for Women in Midlife. 1998. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
3. T. Boiron. Easy guide to homeopathy. Boiron.



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