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By Anna Mitsios - Naturopath and Founder, Edible Beauty Australia.
Our menstrual cycle should not be a torture sentence! Curbing period pain can be as easy as reaching for cup of herbal tea, hopping into the bath or becoming aware of your diet. Here are five simple yet effective methods you can use to keep period pain under control.
1. Have a herbal cuppa
Swapping your coffee or black tea for herbal tea can be a wonderful way to alleviate period cramps. Unfortunately, caffeine consumption is strongly implicated in PMS symptoms, the more caffeine you consume the worse your cramping is likely to be. Switching to a ginger, cinnamon, peppermint or chamomile tea will help to soothe cramps and boost circulation. My favourite PMS tea is a freshly brewed ginger and cinnamon tea – I literally add grated ginger and a quill of cinnamon into a mug, add hot water and a touch of stevia and sip away. If you are fan of green juice, a cucumber, celery, ginger and parsley juice can also help with alleviating fluid retention.
2. Essential oil bliss
Essential oils are not only incredibly calming and grounding, they also have the ability to soothe cramps, promote circulation and reduce pain you may experience around your period. Use a carrier oil such as jojoba, hemp or almond oil and add a few drops of peppermint, lavender, clary sage, chamomile and/or cinnamon. My favourite is peppermint oil as it is so versatile in its ability to boost energy, relieve headaches along with inflammation which come along with “that time of the month”.
3. Reach for a hot water bottle
A hot water bottle or wheat bag can be a fantastic way to take the edge off cramps by boosting circulation and relieving congestion to the pelvic area. A warm bath with a cup of Epsom salts is another great option which can have a similar relieving action. Again, essential oils are your friend! Add a few drops of lavender, clary sage or chamomile for additional analgesic benefits.
4. Leave these out!
If you are consistently suffering from cramps and PMS, it may be necessary to take a look at your diet. If it features a lot of dairy, sugar, caffeine, sodium and fried/fatty foods or gluten, your body may be in a state of low-grade inflammation which is throwing out your hormone balance. Caffeine may be depleting calcium reserves (critical for controlling PMS), high sugar foods may be throwing testosterone levels out of balance whilst sodium may be exacerbating fluid imbalance. Load up on vegetarian protein, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables (including plenty of brassica vegetables), which all help to balance sugar and hormone levels.
5. Herbal and nutrient support
Supplements such as omegas, vitamin B1, magnesium and zinc, along with cramp bark and turmeric, have all been shown to be incredibly helpful when it comes to balancing hormones, enhancing blood flow to the uterus and reducing inflammation to alleviate cramping. As a first point of call, ensure your diet is abundant in omega fatty acids (chia, walnuts, flaxseed, hemp seed), magnesium (green leafy veggies, figs, avocado, nuts and seeds), zinc (legumes, whole-grains, nuts and seeds) and B vitamins (whole-grains, nuts and seeds, dark leafy veggies).
If you are going through a particularly hard time with your menstrual cramps I highly encourage you to seek medical advice and know that you do not have to suffer every month.
About the writer
Adv. Dip. Naturopathy. Adv. Dip. Nutrition. B.Com (Honours)
Anna Mitsios' career began in the corporate sector, where she specialised in corporate finance and private banking for over ten years working in Sydney and New York for a large Australian bank. Anna’s career change was sparked by her own health journey, following a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at 18 years of age. Her diagnosis triggered her intense study of botanicals and nutrition to manage auto-immune condition and assist others in attaining optimal health. Anna has been involved in the pursuit of herbal medicine and nutrition for over 15 years, with a focus on fertility, women’s and chidlren’s health. Anna’s naturopathy career has included working as a naturopath within a reputable natural fertility clinic in Sydney, within a pharmacy and health food store and running her own naturopathy practice. Anna is committed to creating products founded on naturopathic philosophies, using wild-crafted and exotic ingredients and encouraging her clients and people who use her skin care to nourish their skin, from the inside-out.