Overuse of NSAIDS (non-steroid anti-inflammatories) for menstrual cramping or period pain (dysmenorrhea) may contribute to erosion of the gut lining and leaky gut. Commonly used NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen suppress prostaglandins which contribute to pain. Whilst they may make you feel better, they can also suppress the protective prostaglandins that look after your gut lining. Once damaged, the tight junctions in your gut start to drift apart creating a “leaky gut”. This then allows toxins and larger particles to enter the blood stream and trigger an immune response, inflammation and gastrointestinal distress. This may go on to develop autoimmune disorders and poor performance.
There are lots of great natural solutions for period pain.
Ultimately you want to rebalance your hormones and address what may be causing the symptoms in the first place, but while you are doing that here are a few options to manage the unpleasant symptoms:
- Athletes who are competing in their premenstrual phase, may consider magnesium, zinc and fish oil at therapeutic doses for at least 5 days before their period is anticipated to reduce cramping and lower abdomen and back pain
- A hot water bottle or heat pack on your abdomen and/ or lower back
- Herbs such as cramp bark, turmeric and Black Cohosh may reduce PMS symptoms
- Consume more anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, blueberries, avocado and chia seeds. Fish such as salmon, cod, mackerel, sardines, bream, snapper or flathead that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, are also healthy choices. Consume more calcium-rich beans, almonds, and dark leafy greens. These foods contain compounds that combat inflammation.
- Skip coffee, refined foods and high sugar intake, bread, and pasta and anything processed high in trans-fatty acids. These foods may contribute to inflammation and encourage period pain and tender breasts.
- Sipping chamomile tea may inhibit the pain-causing prostaglandins associated with PMS without the side effects on your gut.
- Ginger- one study demonstrated women who had 250 milligram capsules of ginger 4 times a day for the first 3 days of their periods experienced equivalent pain relief as ibuprofen. Try out our ginger compress here
- Fennel- Fennel extract may be a good option for the approximately 10 percent of women who can’t do their normal activities for 1 to 3 days during their periods due to severe menstrual cramps.
- Researchers have found using a combination of both 100mg of vitamin B1 and 500mgs of fish oil daily for 2 months significantly reduced the incidence of period pain and the duration of pain.
- Exercising- Most women find that exercising helps relieve menstrual cramps. Some women find yoga and tai chi are gentler forms of exercise that are more comfortable during the premenstrual phase.
- If you would like to better understand how you can balance your hormones through good nutrition, download our free hormone balancing meal plan here