It may or may not be fairly obvious, but I should probably start off by saying I’ve never actually had a period myself. My uber-talented acupuncturist/future wife seems to think I have them all of the time (it’s not easy being right all of the time, and misunderstood, let me tell you), but biologically, it hasn’t happened to me yet. Fingers crossed.
That all being said, as a practitioner of a healing modality that attracts primarily female patients, I’ve listened to my fair share of stories of the pain, discomfort, and other interruptive factors that seem to come with the menstrual cycle. Part of my regular diagnostic questioning for any female patient, regardless of the issue that they come to see me for, centers around their cycle.
There is a whole host of information a skilled practitioner can utilize to ascertain the overall health, stress levels, and dietary issues of a woman all by looking at her physical and mental/emotional response to her period.
What we’re going to talk about today, however, is less the reasons behind any turbulence a menstrual period causes and more on the ways you can ease the pain and cramping that is such a common experience for so many women. Most importantly, we’re going to focus on two ways that you can do find relief right at home.
In my past article, we discussed cinnamon and it’s amazing effect on reducing menstrual cramps. If you don’t have any on hand or are looking for further alternatives, read on!
Calcium & Magnesium
The combination of calcium and magnesium has long been used for the combined anti-cramping effects. About a week before a woman’s period begins, her levels of both calcium and zinc begin to decrease. Making sure calcium levels don’t drop, and are absorbable by being taken in conjunction with magnesium, will alleviate many PMS symptoms.
Great sources of natural calcium include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach
- Sesame seeds, almonds, black beans
- Black strap molasses and collard greens (not necessarily together)
Great sources of natural magnesium include:
- Cashews and peanuts
Mugwhat?! Mugwart is more commonly called moxa by your local acupuncturist and is a fantastic remedy for lower abdominal and low back cramping. Moxa is often burned at the end of acupuncture needles for a variety of ailments including pain and injury, but with menstrual pain it is a hidden gem.
Pictured here is a Moxa Box. Both the box and the moxa itself can be purchased online or from your local TCM practitioner.
Place a handful of moxa into the moxa box and set it ablaze. As moxa burns very slowly and will not catch on fire but smolder, making sure a couple of different areas of the moxa are lit within the box itself.
Place the box onto your lower abdomen, open the vent to adjust the heat, kick back, and let it do it’s thing!
Moxa has a very deep penetrating heat that will release the cramping and pain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, “cold” is the cause of cramping. Whether you believe the ancients knew their female anatomy or not, I have yet to meet a woman who reaches for the air conditioning dial and a pack of ice to put on themselves during their cycle. Adding an external heat source, especially one with a penetrating effect will bring long lasting relief.
One note: Moxa produces a heavy amount of fragrant smoke so make sure that your windows are open and your room is well ventilated. By “fragrant” I should also say moxa smells similar to what…um…people have told me marijuana smells like, so I wouldn’t burn a whole bunch of it and then head to a PTA meeting with your child.