Period Pain? Try These Herbal Remedies First
For generations women have experienced period pain and, in many cases, they’ve sought out traditional herbal remedies for pain and discomfort, writes Erika Morvay at Fusion Health.
Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is commonly experienced by women during the reproductive stages of their life and can be divided into two broad categories:1
1. Primary dysmenorrhea: occurring in absence of pelvic pathology, and
2. Secondary dysmenorrhea: caused by an underlying medical condition
Period Pain – Underlying Causes
A naturopathic doctor specialising in women’s health and author of the ‘Period Repair Manual’, Lara Briden explains how normal period pain is caused by the release of prostaglandins from the uterus and usually gets better as you get older. Some mild pain on the first or second day is normal, however more severe pain should always be investigated as it can be caused by an underlying medical condition and can worsen with age.2
Period Pain – Herbal Remedies
A qualified holistic health care practitioner can help guide you through specific recommendations to help ease period-related pain.
According to Chinese medicine theory, pain is related to stagnation of Qi (energy) and blood in the body. Herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therefore mostly rely on ‘invigorating Qi’ and blood in the channels that will move stagnation to address pain and the symptoms associated with it.
Turmeric has been used for its culinary and therapeutic properties in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It contains an active compound curcumin, which provides anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain-relieving actions.3 In traditional Chinese medicine terms turmeric invigorates the blood and Qi to ease pain due to stagnation.3
Ginger has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve pain, including period pain and reduce inflammation3 while Willow Bark has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine as an analgesic (pain-relieving) herb for centuries. It is the active compound salicin, produced in Willow bark responsible for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions.5
Tienchi Ginseng is traditionally used in TCM to dispel blood stagnation and reduce bleeding, including heavy menstrual bleeding4 and can be combined with other anti-inflammatory herbs such as Turmeric, Ginger or Willow bark.
White Peony In TCM it’s said to nourish the blood and is an important herb to regulate menstruation and alleviate pain from menstrual cramps.6 Ligusticum and Angelica are also used in TCM to invigorate the blood and promote the movement of Qi – commonly used in the management of menstrual disorders including period pain and dysmenorrhea.6
If symptoms of pain persist, and before taking any herbal products or supplements, seek advice from your healthcare professional. Always read the label and use only as directed.