“Aunt Flo”, “on the rag”, “time of the month”, “shark week”- There are so many different terms for this week of a woman’s life that comes approximately every month for a few decades. And unfortunately, most of these terms come with that certain tone of voice that indicates that this is something unpleasant, inevitable, and inconvenient.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating- Your cycle, including your period, is meant to bring you and those around you life! It is an incredible work of mechanics and art, meant to create a life and bring a soul into this world from materials the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Whether that is ever something that your body ever does is irrelevant. This amazing capacity for creating is woven into our beings as women and anything can be our canvas!
Our periods are meant to enhance this feature of ourselves, but sadly due to a myriad of possible causes, it sometimes actually dampens this vibrancy. For many of us, our periods cause us to sit out of life for a week (or more!) whether due to heavy bleeding, debilitating cramps, menstrual migraines, or just that vague foggy feeling that makes projects and goal getting more strenuous than usual. Although common, none of these symptoms is normal!
I cannot possibly cover every unpleasant symptom that we experience due to imbalances, but I do want to offer some natural remedies for the most common problems that women experience. Today I am covering the top 3 that I hear from women: heavy periods, cramps, and hormonal breakouts.
Heavy Periods: Heavy periods are determined by:
- A period that is consistently 8 days or longer
- You have to change your pad or tampon more often than every two hours
- You need to stack menstrual products, eg: wearing two pads, a pad and a tampon, etc
- You pass clots longer than 1 inch long
- You develop anemia during and after your period
One of the possible causes of this is estrogen dominance, which just means that the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in your body is skewed. This can be caused by chemicals in our personal care products, prolonged stress, dietary factors, or environmental factors. Raspberry leaf tea in pill or tea form is a good way to lighten periods a bit, as is taking a good plant-based, liquid iron supplement such as Floradix. If you want to get lasting relief though, you will want to get to the root cause. My 4-Day Hormone Jumpstart is a good way to your body moving in the right direction, and learn in more depth how to deal with some of the possible underlying causes!
Cramping: Ah, cramping, the universally relatable period symptoms. Cramps can vary from woman to woman and even from cycle to cycle, ranging from uncomfortable aches to stabbing spasms that can include nausea and vomiting. We will be talking mostly today about natural remedies for mild to moderate cramps, but I will also discuss some possible causes of severe cramps.
Up until I had my second child, my cramps were in the upper-moderate category where I was pretty much out of commission for one to two days every month, curled up with a heating pad in bed and feeling pretty nauseated, so I am very familiar how miserable cramps can be. In fact, for the first several hours of both of my labors, my contractions weren’t any more intense than what I normally experienced with my period cramps!
My go-to for natural cramp fighting is good old ginger! Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic and is great for calming that turbulent tummy that can sometimes come with intense cramping! The dose for this would be 500mg 3x/day, with the max dose being 3,000mg/day.
My second recommendation is getting more magnesium. I recommend upping your dosage of magnesium (glycinate is my favorite form) in the week leading up to and then during your period to get the most out of it’s muscle relaxing qualities. 300-600mg at bedtime is effective for most people and you can change your dosage along this range as necessary to get the desired effects. Side note- sugar eats up magnesium as it digests, so if you are taking an upper level dose and still not getting the results you want, your sugar intake may be eating it up as you take it in! Reducing sugar will not only lead to better blood sugar balance and therefore more stable hormones, but it will also free up more magnesium for more muscle relaxing!
Lastly, if you are experiencing a combination of heavy periods and severe cramping, I would encourage you to look into finding out if you are dealing with endometriosis or PCOS. If you are experiencing many of the symptoms but have been told by doctors that they “can’t find anything”, or if you have been diagnosed but then just given birth control to “regulate” things, then schedule a chat with me and let’s get to the bottom of what is going on.
Hormonal Breakouts: This is one that may not be as physically painful, but is no less of an inconvenience and real problem for many women. Breakouts can be a bit unpredictable, embarrassing, and frustrating which does not help us operate at our best! The underlying causes of hormonal breakouts aside from overall hormone imbalance, are gut issues, and a congested liver.
To work on gut health it is important to focus on mostly anti-inflammatory foods such as whole foods, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats, while decreasing the inflammatory, irritation foods such as sugar, processed grains, and rancid oils. *cough* Canola *cough*
Marshmallow and Licorice root are also great for a gut healing protocol if you are dealing with reflux and/or ulcers. It is best to speak with a trained herbalist if you are dealing with these conditions/herbs. Marshmallow is generally considered safe, but Licorice takes more care and a knowledge of herb/drug interactions and safe dosages.
For liver congestion it is important to eat plenty of cruciferous veggies and reduce toxins in your skincare. For an extra boost, milk thistle is an excellent liver detoxifier and protectant. The standard dose for milk thistle is 200mg standardized to 80% silymarin. This herb is generally considered safe, and as an added bonus it can help to increase production of breast milk!
I hope that you were able to take away some great natural remedy ideas to try from today’s post. And as always, if you are unsure about an herb, please reach out to an herbalist and your doctor or pharmacist! Also if you are looking for ways to balance your hormones naturally, my 4-Day Hormone Jumpstart is an excellent way to dip your toes into the waters!
*All herbal and nutritional supplement recommendations are for educational purposes only and not to be used to treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or medical conditions. Always consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine.