The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.
Menstrual cramps also known as dysmenorrhea affect as many as 60-80% of
all women. Some women are so severly affected that they are unable to function
for one or more days each month. Severe menstrual pain can be caused by
endometriosis, but many women have cramps that are not related to any obvious
abnormalities in the reproductive tract. Much of menstrual cramping is
related to the production of a hormone called prostaglandin F2, which causes
uteine contraction. While some of this hormone is necessary to effect normal
uterine contractions to slow bleeding from the opened blood vessels, too
much can send the uterus into painful spasms. Poor diet and stress contribute
to excessive production of this prostaglandin. High intake of meat and
dairy fat, as well as excess stress will increase its production, as will
inadequate intake of essential fatty acids, vitamins
C,E & B6
and magnesium. Conventional
medical treatment involves the use of antiprostaglandin medications such
as ibuprofen or aspirin or the use of birth control pills to stop ovulation
and the hormonal changes that accompany it.
Natural treatment for menstrual cramps includes a diet low in meat and
dairy products, supplementation with essential fatty acids, vitamin and
mineral supplements with good doses of Vitamins A, C,
and magnesium and calcium.
A number of women have observed that their menstrual cramps are less
when they are not overly stressed and are able to allow themselves free
time at the beginning of the menstrual period. In our modern life this
is not always easy to do, but if you suffer from severe cramping, it is
probably wise to look at how you can decrease the demands on yourself before
your period and give yourself at least some time to nuture yourself then.
Herbal treatment for menstrual cramps-
Evening Primrose Oil or Black Current Oil-
fatty acid supplements will help to promote normal prostaglandin production.
If you have heavy bleeding with your period use:
Liquid extract- 1/2 teaspoon every 2-3 hours as needed for cramping
Dried herb in capsules- 500 mg every 2-3 hours as needed for cramping
Other herbs- Cramp bark, dioscorea, kava kava, california poppy, jamaican
If you have light bleeding with your period use:
Liquid extract- 1/4 teaspoon every 2-3 hours as needed for cramping
Dried herb in capsules-250 mg every 2-3 hours as needed for cramping
Other herbs- Dong Quai, Dioscorea, Kava,
California Poppy, Jamaican Dogwood
Caution: Blue cohosh and dong quai should not be used with heavy menstrual
bleeding or if you have an IUD as they can promote bleeding in these situations.
* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate.
It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.