Natural remedies for period pain and mood swings
No doubt you have gone through life being told that period problems like painful cramps and horrible mood swings are normal, right? Maybe you’ve been told that they’re something that women ‘just have to deal with’?
Well, let me be the one to break it to you… THESE SYMPTOMS ARE NOT NORMAL! Say what? That’s right, although they are both extremely common problems, they are not actually considered ‘normal’. (I can hear you gasping … I did too when I first learnt this stuff.)
So, just how common is period pain?
A study of Australian women aged between the years of 16 and 25 found that 88% of women experienced dysmenorrhoea, also known as painful periods. The national prevalence of women experiencing dysmenorrhea is a whopping 70 – 90%! But here’s the kicker: Women aren’t going to their GP’s with these issues, and when they do, they are quickly offered birth control as a means of treatment (side note: the pill is not a treatment but more of a band-aid solution for these symptoms, but that is a whole other story).
Before we get into some natural remedies to help with period pain and mood swings, it’s important to understand exactly what causes these symptoms. When it comes to menstrual health, prevention is key.
Implementing these tips into your life for at least three cycles will give you the most benefits, so stick with it and I promise you will be glad that you did.
THE CAUSE OF SYMPTOMS WHEN YOU GET YOUR PERIOD
Period pain is caused by the release of excess amounts of prostaglandins within the uterus, which leads to inflammation and pain. You can have either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea.
Primary dysmenorrhea is your ‘typical’ period pain that goes away after taking a Panadol and doesn’t affect your life too much.
Secondary dysmenorrhea is more severe and generally lasts longer. It may be caused by PCOS, endometriosis or infection, so it is important to investigate further if this sounds like you.
When your hormones are balanced, they are supportive of your mood! Oestrogen (the hormone in charge of the first half of your cycle) boosts your feel-good hormones serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine. Progesterone (the hormone produced in the second half of your cycle, but only after ovulation has occurred) helps to keep you calm and reduces anxiety.
5 NATURAL REMEDIES FOR PERIOD PAIN AND MOOD SWINGS
By now you’re probably thinking, ‘well it’s great that these symptoms aren’t normal … but what the heck can I actually do about it!?”
Here are 5 of my favourite natural remedies that you can do at home to help reduce period pain and mood swings:
1. APPLY HEAT
Perhaps the simplest of home remedies for reducing period pain is applying heat to the area. A wheat pack or hot water bottle works great for this. Apply to your abdomen to soothe pain as required.
2. TAKE MAGNESIUM
Magnesium works by reducing prostaglandin levels and relaxing the uterus. One of the easiest (and most relaxing) ways to incorporate magnesium in your life is in a bath! You can purchase either Epsom salts or magnesium flakes and add 1-2 cups to your bath to help reduce period pain. Start taking magnesium baths in the days leading up to your period to help prevent pain.
3. GOLDEN MILK
Turmeric is another natural remedy that reduces prostaglandins! My favourite home remedy that incorporates turmeric is golden milk. It is a lush, slightly spiced hot drink that is perfect for reducing period pain. I like to make up a batch of turmeric paste and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then you can pop them into a container and store them in the freezer. A few days before your period is due, take a cube out and heat it in a cup of your favourite milk. Easy peasy!
There is a plethora of recipes available online. When searching for a recipe, be sure to choose one that has black pepper and some form of oil/ fat in it to increase absorption of the turmeric.
4. CASTOR OIL HEAT PACK
Castor oil packs can help to reduce cramping and bloating associated with your period. You will need a hot water bottle, towel, hand towel, jar and castor oil (preferably organic).
Firstly, prepare your hot water bottle and lay in a comfy position. Tuck the towel into your pants, skirt or underwear to protect your clothing from the oil, you can also lay on a towel to protect your furniture. Soak the hand towel in castor oil (it doesn’t need to be dripping) and place the hand towel over your lower abdomen. Place the hot water bottle over the hand towel and relax for 20 to 30 minutes.
After this time, wipe the excess oil off your abdomen, place the oily hand towel in the jar for the next time you use it and store in the fridge. Ideally, treatment should be done for 3-4 days per week leading up to your period.
Note: Please DO NOT do this treatment during your period. The increased lymphatic flow will promote heavy bleeding.
5. SEED CYCLING
One way you can help support hormonal balance at home is with seed cycling! This is the process of eating different seeds during different phases of your cycle. The seeds help promote hormonal balance by optimising nutritional intake, supporting oestrogen and progesterone levels and aiding in detoxification of hormones. Here’s how to do it in a nutshell:
- You will need flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Make sure you buy the whole seed and not a pre-ground version.
- Pre-grind your seeds in a coffee grinder or bullet blender every 3-4 days and store them in the fridge to prevent them from going rancid. You can mix the 2 combinations together to make this easier for yourself (eg. For 3 day’s worth, add 3 tablespoons of flaxseeds and 3 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and blitz.)
- During the follicular phase of your cycle (menstruation to ovulation/ roughly day 1 to day 14) take 2 tablespoons of your ground flaxseed and pumpkin seed mix. During the luteal phase of your cycle (ovulation to before menstruation/ roughly day 15 to day 28) take 2 tablespoons of the ground sesame seed and sunflower seed mix.
- Add the ground seeds to your smoothie, sprinkle them on your salads, add them into soups or simply mix them in water. Remember to have them every day of your cycle! You will see the best results after using this method for 3-4 cycles.
If none of these home remedies are lending you any relief, I recommend working with a women’s health naturopath to get to the bottom of any hormonal imbalances. When it comes to hormones, it is so important to consider the basics.
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Are you detoxifying your hormones? Are you exercising regularly? What are your stress levels like? Is your gut function optimal? All of these factors play a contributing role towards hormonal imbalances!
To work with me 1:1, you can book an appointment here.
And if you need help to guiding your daughter through her period read this: How to talk to your daughter about her period (from the pros).