Welcome back to Sage Health TV!
In this episode of Sage Health TV, I’m going to be talking about helpful tips to relieve horrible menstrual cramps and painful periods. Every month some of us ladies may deal with a combination of different symptoms during our moon week such as irritability, breast tenderness, depression/ anxiety, painful menstrual cramps, heavy periods, and water retention.
Let’s dive into why we are feeling these symptoms. Dysmenorrhea/ painful periods can happen for numerous reasons such as
- Estrogen dominance
This is when a woman has too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone, or when there is too little progesterone in comparison to estrogen. We want a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone, and when there is too much estrogen this can contribute to heavy painful periods. So it’s important to get these levels checked either through blood during certain times of your cycle or by getting a comprehensive urine hormone test like the Dutch test.
- Poor estrogen metabolism
There are numerous different estrogen metabolites that we can test for via urine, and when certain ones are elevated it can increase your risk of cancer and cause PMS like symptoms. Poor estrogen metabolism can be a results of poor digestion, decreased liver function, genetic SNP’s, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and exposure to environmental toxins.
- Excess stress that affects the thyroid and sex organs
- Poor diet and lifestyle choices
Eating an inflammatory diet can increase prostaglandins in the body causing more pain around your period. Excess alcohol intake can put a lot of stress on the liver, which can cause hormone imbalance and thus lead to estrogen dominance and painful periods.
So how can we treat and address the root cause of your painful periods???
First, make better lifestyle and dietary choices. Try to eat organic as much as possible to avoid pesticide exposure. The Clean 15 list are foods that are safe to eat if not organic, and the Dirty Dozen are foods that you should avoid if they are not organic. These lists are updated every year, and can be found on the EWG website. Try to eat whole foods, and get rid of the processed, fatty, junk food. Foods that are helpful in estrogen metabolism are cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. Seed cycling is also really helpful in promoting the natural rhythm of estrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle, and healthy fat balance. In the first half of your cycle, you want to eat seeds that promote estrogen like flax and pumpkin seeds. And in the second half of your cycle, you will switch to eating seeds that are more progesterone supportive like sesame and sunflower seeds.
Environmental toxins such as metals, mold, xenoestrogens (i.e BPA’s, pesticides, phthalates), which are all endocrine or hormone disruptors. They can bind to estrogen receptors, and essentially promote carcinogenic pathways in our bodies and increase estrogen levels. The best to treat environmental toxin exposure is to avoid and remove the culprits. My favorite app to use is the EWG Healthy Livingapp, which is very helpful in finding beauty and cleaning products that are non toxic and non carcinogenic. And the next best thing you can do is to sweat, sweat, sweat! Our skin is our largest detox organ in the body. You can sweat while exercising and or in an infrared sauna to allow for deeper detox.
Certain supplements can be helpful in supporting estrogen metabolism such as glutathione, B12, B complex, methylated folate, lithium and magnesium.
There are numerous herbs that are helpful in balancing hormones, and prescribing them really depends on hormone levels (i.e. whether someone has too much estrogen or too little progesterone). If a woman is estrogen dominant, then phytoestrogens will helpful in negating too much estradiol. Some of these herbs are fennel, licorice, and pomegranate seed. When there is too little progesterone, vitex can be very helpful.
Lastly, here are some natural remedies for painful menstrual cramps:
- Cramp bark
- Heat pad
I hope you found this information helpful, and enjoyed our episode this month.
In good health,
Dr. Julieann Murella