Menstruation is a natural part of being a person! Not everyone menstruates, but those who do are surely familiar with the discomforts that can occur during a period. Our menstrual cycle, similar to our skin health, is always telling us how we are doing. The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period, and ends on the day before your period. In this blog entry, we will be focused on helping support the menstrual cycle to support your period.
Coping with the symptoms and understanding the cause can go hand in hand. All too often, society encourages us to delete the symptoms without understanding what is the cause.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to deal with the pain either. And yes, my heavy flow gets annoying if I can't leave home for fear of bleeding on yet another pair of pants. It's really uncomfortable! Deepening my understanding of my menstrual cycle and it's ebbs and flows has shifted the way I care for myself. It's also helped balance out my flow, for less uncomfortable situations. I feel empowered without all the shame.
Dysmenorrhea is the term for painful menstruation, associated with cramping. It’s disruptive, upsetting, exhausting. As an herbalist, menstruating person, and someone who deals with dysmenorrhea, I thought it was about time to create a list of Natural Ways to Support Menstruation!
Shifts in your cycle can take 3-4 months to happen once you start implementing new routines. If anything below resonates with you, try it out and stick with it for a few months.
Here are a few things that I do to manage my menstrual pain while supporting the overall health & balance of my body:
Rest. Never underestimate the power of rest. Whether that be social, creative, physical or emotional rest, some form of resting during your period allows your body to dedicate the energy it needs to menstruation. Periods are energy consuming, and when we "power" through them, it can leave us feeling depleted on all fronts.
Magnesium. According to the World Health Organization, 75% of adults are magnesium deficient. This essential mineral is necessary for a multitude of bodily functions, and low levels of it can amplify cramping. My favorite way to keep my levels boosted is with a daily misting of topical magnesium. Transdermal absorption has been shown to be a fast & effective way of increasing magnesium levels in the body. It may take a few months of daily use for you to feel the effects in your menstrual cycle, but I personally am thrilled to report that since using magnesium rosa mist daily, my cramping is not nearly as intense as it once was.
Herbal Tinctures. There is a long history of herbs supporting menstrual cycles. Our hormones are delicately balanced, and herbs can help maintain the balance. 5D's Cramp Tamer alleviates cramping, serves as a uterine tonic, and eases the emotional toll of a menstrual cycle. For best results, take 2-3 days before your cycle starts. No worries if you forget until the cramps hit. Keep it on you to take throughout the day.
A cup of hot tea. Nothing beats a hot cup of tea during my period. I drink a nutritive blend of red raspberry, oat tops, nettles, tulsi & alfalfa daily. During my menstrual cycle, I reach for a warming tea blend like ginger or caffeine free chai.
Use a cup or sponge & a pad instead of tampons. So many people have found that cups or sponges lead to lesser cramping. Of course, try for yourself and see how you like it! Switching to a cup as my normal way to collect my period has alleviated my chronic lower abdominal discomfort. I always pair my cup with a pad, because of my heavy flow.
A hot water bottle. Hot water bottles will bring warmth to the area they are applied to, which softens edges of cramping and pain. If you experience severe cramping, always reach for the hot water bottle. Any avenue of relief is a great one! But be sure to couple it with additional support if you want to feel real relief. It's not a miracle worker, but it seriously helps take the edge off.
Topical CBD. I’ve found this works best to alleviate menstrual pain when applied in addition to some of the other items I listed above. CBD doesn't tend to cut it for me on it's own, but I find it absolutely eases the intensity of painful cramps.
An herbal bath. Fill a tub with hot water, & pour in a cup of strong ginger tea. Ginger is a warming herb that promotes circulation. Supporting circulation benefits menstrual flow and can alleviate cramping. No tub? Try a foot soak!
Foods that are nourishing and nutrient rich are my favs leading up to my period. Parsley pesto is my go the week before my period. Folate rich foods, like parsley, support the ovulation process, which could impact progesterone levels in the second half of the menstrual cycle. I also love easy to digest soups made with an herbal broth.
Fire Cider This circulatory stimulant will warm you right up and support menstrual flow. I find a half oz of fire cider a day during my period helps alleviate those bogged down feels.