written by Rhovie Hulleza, with contributions from Naturopath Caroline Robertson ND*
(* If your symptoms are severe please see your GP without delay)
Periods. Ugh, just the word is enough to dredge up horror stories of painful cramps, foul moods and strange eating habits. Some of us go to battle against these side effects by taking pain killers and armouring ourselves with heat packs. Others ride out the wave of pain and succumb to the pendulum of binge eating.
Now, take a deep breath, touch your ring finger onto your thumb and relax before the love-fest begins. Firstly, three things to balance. Two hormones and a neurotransmitter. A bit like the anticipation before Christmas, ‘two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree’! I know, that makes no sense either, but here’s what really happens…
During your period there is a decreased level of the two hormones estrogen and progesterone, and in some cases lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin which can cause PMS symptoms. A lot of us experience the downside of these three things being out of balance; food cravings, fatigue, skin problems, bloating and mood swings just to name a few. Not very fun, is it?
Tip 1 – self-love in the kitchen
- Eat smaller meals evenly spaced apart. Try to include low GI fibre to avoid fluctuating blood sugar levels that can increase irritability, stress and fatigue related to PMS. Reduce high fat/low fibre food, they can cause constipation and increase estrogen. Stick to being unrefined. Avoid refined sugar and refined flour.
- Reduce salt in everything (yes, salted caramel as well), too much salt increases bloating, bloating causes pain. To counter too much salt, increase essential fatty acids, oily fish such as salmon or evening primrose oil will do the trick.
- Last but probably the most effective to curb cramps, increase muscle relaxing minerals calcium and magnesium. For calcium eat more almonds, figs and greens. For magnesium eat more bananas, avocado, dark chocolate and nuts.
Unmissable advice from Naturopath Caroline Robertson, “If diet changes during your period are hard to stick to, try the menstrual botanical khaya.
Khaya is the base for a new natural plant-based medicine called Khapregesic for Period Pain. It’s high in natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving factors plus it has a very high antioxidant profile making it stomach friendly.”
Listen to some of my patients in this video to see if it’s worth trying for yourself.”
Tip 2: Self-love your body
- Give your tummy a loving gentle massage before and after eating. This can aid digestion and the movement of hormonal fluids. It can be extra comforting with a loved one but remember this is self-love, so you make up the rules.
- Gentle exercise is essential in reducing the duration of period pain. Yoga or a walk, especially when done regularly, releases endorphins which will help with your mood too.
So, the next time Aunt Flow comes for a visit, prepare her some small snacks then take her out for a walk. When you get back the two of you can kick your feet up and watch a movie with a heat pack on your stomach, sipping some herbal tea. I guarantee the self-love will ease your period pain every month.
Rhovie Hulleza is an independent journalist and Mass Communication graduate from Murdoch University. She is an Australian silver medalist amateur boxer with a special interest in fitness and women’s health.
Caroline Robertson is a Clinical Naturopath and Ayurveda Practitioner. She is a natural therapies author and practices in the Northern Beaches of Sydney Australia.
More info on khaya: https://bioactivenaturalhealth.com.au/about-us/
More info on hormones: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hormonal-endocrine-system
More info on neurotransmitters: https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-physiology/what-are-neurotransmitters