Painful periods, premenstrual symptoms or irregular periods are some of the menstrual issues that a great deal of women worldwide suffer from.
Some women may believe that an uncomfortable period is normal, when, in fact, a healthy period should be regular, free of bothersome premenstrual symptoms and it should not be painful. The flow should be consistent from one month to the other, with no interruptions in the bleeding, no clots and with no spotting premenstrually. The nature of a woman’s period is very relevant as it is an indicator of overall health and hormonal stability. It is important for a woman’s hormones to be balanced enough to produce an adequate period, so that she can feel good through her menstrual cycle, without drastic shifts in mood or unpleasant hormonal physical symptoms. Menstrual problems can also be a sign of a deeper underlying issue. For instance, women with consistently irregular periods may in fact have polycystic ovarian syndrome which predisposes them to diabetes. Similarly, women with very painful periods may have endometriosis which may significantly affect their fertility. As such, it is a good idea to pay attention to one’s menstrual cycle and make sure it is optimal.
When faced with a sub-optimal menstrual cycle, a woman is unfortunately offered only a limited number of solutions by conventional gynecologists.
Indeed, women with painful cycles or irregular cycles are often only suggested oral contraceptives. These are effective at removing the symptoms but they do not deal with the root cause of the issue and put millions of women at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and cervical cancer. This is without mentioning the side effects such as water retention, breast tenderness, weight gain and mood swings.
From the point of view of many traditional medical systems, menstrual problems are a reflection of physiological imbalances within the body that can be corrected with the proper lifestyle and dietary changes – for the most part. Common premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness, headaches and mood swings, as well as premenstrual spotting and a menstrual flow that “starts and stops”, are all signs of liver overload. Indeed, in the premenstrual week, the liver must work hard at breaking down estrogens and progestins produced during the month.
It is only once these hormones have been metabolized by the liver that a normal period can begin and continue without stopping in the middle. If the liver is overloaded by our modern world’s environmental pollutants, stress hormones and unhealthy dietary choices, then it will be more difficult for it to carry out its hormone detoxifying properties. For this reason, most type of “detox” diets, which typically include removing a great deal of refined sugars and processed foods from the diet, will typically resolve common functional period issues. Detox diets that are not too harsh must usually be carried out for 2 weeks for them to be effective and are best done in combination with a herbal regimen that optimizes our detoxifying abilities.
Western herbs such as dandelion, milk thistle and yellow dock as well as chia seeds or psyllium husks are used in that context. The latter two are essential as they provide soluble fiber which allows toxins emitted in the bile to be properly eliminated through bowel movements instead of being reabsorbed in the intestines. Weekly acupuncture sessions can also be an effective addition to a natural hormone-balancing protocol.
More serious problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or uterine fibroids can also be tackled with natural medicine but require a longer term dietary and herbal regimen – usually 3-12 months are necessary. Chronic severe issues such as endometriosis or adenomyosis usually a mixture of physical and mental-emotional triggers. The dietary and lifestyle interventions can bring about impressive improvements in symptoms but working more deeply on a spiritual level using holistic psychotherapy and homeopathy is often necessary.
Women suffering from endometriosis have often had a childhood where they had to take on the “mother role” too early – either with their own mother or with siblings. Revisiting the past and operating a spiritual shift is often necessary for periods to become sustainably healthier. In the process, however, women learn that their menses are not just a nuisance, but an indicator of health and yet another channel through which the body can communicate with us and allow us to understand what needs to be fixed. This exciting journey inevitably leads to mental-emotional and spiritual growth and the development of healthier dietary and lifestyle habits which benefit not only hormonal balance, but other body systems as well.
Working on menstrual health with natural medicine can work very quickly and effectively unless the pathology is long-standing and has led to physical changes in the tissues – as is the case with ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and endometriosis. In those cases, dietary and lifestyle changes as well as herbs will need to be part of the treatment plan for a at least half a year. Changes are more rewarding and sustainable if deeper therapies are used at the same time to help address the spiritual cause of those health challenges.
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