Thursday, February 19, 2009

Restorative Nutrition for Dysmenorrhea

I suffered from dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps for so many years. I think it started when I entered college. For those of you who are suffering from this every month, you know what I’m talking about. Last year, I’ve experienced my chest tighten where oxygen was shut off from my body, then dizziness and excruciating pain. I also passed out for a few seconds before gaining back consciousness. When I gained consciousness, the pain was still very intense that I wanted to scream but didn’t have the energy to do so. The only thing I could think of was to consume 15 drops of liquid mineral along with five drops each of liquid zinc, boron and selenium with water. Although it didn’t work right away compared with medication, there was a slight improvement. I even called my brother to prepare the water for me. It happened twice last year and it was the most painful menstruation I’ve ever experience. I was also incapacitated for a few days every month. Actually, I could have taken a pain reliever to ease the cramps but I didn’t. I endured the pain every single month because I want to find out the real cause of it. But when I experienced this last year, I gave in to the pill. My mom wanted me to see a doctor. I didn’t want to. Although the doctor could explain to me further what’s happening to my body, I already knew that writing a prescription drug is what she's going to do.



I believe that food plays a huge role in healing our bodies. So I made some changes with regards to food, supplements and lifestyle. The following recommendations are based on my experience.

Two weeks before my monthly period, I avoided the following:

  • Beef, pork and dairy products. Beef and dairy products contains arachidonic acid that convert to the Series II prostaglandins which encourages blood clot formation. In addition, most meats are laden with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics – that includes chicken and eggs. Pork has less of the arachidonic acid but it is better to avoid them. So, where will I get my iron if I don’t eat meat? You need to eat foods (another blogpost) that nourishes the spleen, which is responsible for getting rid of worn-out red blood cells by recycling them and transforming them into iron to build the blood.
  • Avoid white flour and whole wheat flour. White flour is great for cakes, pastries and breads but sometimes it doesn’t do the body good most especially if this is what you eat every single day, three times a day. Wheat even in its whole form can be difficult to digest for some people and it can aggravate whatever allergies or pain you might have at the moment. So, avoid bread, cakes, pastries and even pasta and anything with wheat and gluten.
  • Cold drinks. They worsen contraction of the muscles around the uterus.
  • Bad fats. They are fried foods, hydrogenated, refined and Trans fats.
  • Sugar. Sugar is always the culprit of whatever weird things are happening inside our body. Any type of simple sugar should be avoided.
  • High salted foods. It worsens bloating.
  • Caffeine. It stresses the adrenal glands and the liver; therefore it stresses the whole body. It also flushes mineral out of the body.
  • Refined and processed foods. They are vitamin and mineral deficient.
  • Stress. We cannot avoid it but we can control it. We are not super humans so get help whenever you can.

So, what do I eat?

  • Fruits and vegetables. Although raw food is good for cleansing the organs, I find that I do better when they are cooked. I felt that warming foods are more restorative.
  • Grains. Brown rice, millet, quinoa are good grains to include as well as buckwheat.
  • Legumes. They are a good source of protein. Cook with some spices for better digestion.
  • Tofu. Tofu is another good source of protein. It also inhibits bad estrogen, also known as xenoestrogens. Soy has bad reputation because people replace it with every kind of protein available by eating it everyday. Just like with any other food, consume soy moderately.
  • Nuts and seeds. I eat more seeds than nuts. Nuts are sometimes hard to digest unless they are soaked. Flax seeds are good in regulating hormones. I do a combination of 4 parts flax seeds and 1 part each sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Grind about 2 tablespoons of seeds a la minute and sprinkle over whole grain cereal or yogurt.
  • Organic chicken. Serve without the skin.
  • Organic eggs. Boil or poach to protect the fat enzymes in the yolks.
  • Sea vegetables. They have a good balance of sodium and potassium and the minerals are easily assimilated into the body.
  • Salmon. It’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids along with mackarel and sardines.
  • Ashitaba (Tomorrow) Leaf. It promotes blood circulation and is beneficial for women with menstrual problems. Eat 4-6 leaves a day.
  • Superfoods. Wheat grass, barley grass, chlorella or spirulina alkalizes the body and supplies a wide spectrum of nutrients.

Buy organic as much as possible.

Ashitaba (Tomorrow) Leaf

Supplements

  • 50-100 mg of Vitamin B6 – to control excess estrogen and works as a natural diurectic to relieve bloating. Always taken with 50-100 mg B-complex to maintain biochemical functions in the body.
  • 10 drops Elemental zinc and copper – to convert vitamin B6 into its active form.
  • 10 drops Elemental boron – to balance the hormones and aids in calcium uptake which fluctuates during the menstrual cycle.
  • 10 drops ConcenTrace Mineral Drops (CMD) which I now bring everywhere I go - 3x a day (up to 50 drops) - they contain natural balance of 72 verified minerals and trace minerals with magnesium as its abundant mineral, which has a nerve-tranquilizing and muscle-relaxing effect. Magnesium also optimizes the amount of usable calcium in the system by increasing calcium absorption.
  • 1 tbsp Flax seed oil or 1000–2000 mg fish oil – good source of Omega-3 fatty acids; it balances the hormones; it reduces uterine spasms and relax blood vessels.
  • 400 IU Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) - improves blood circulation and regulations hormone levels; it also protects flax and fish oil from going rancid.
  • 1000-4000 mg Vitamin C in divided doses – to reduce fatigue.
  • 500 mg of Milk Thistle 3x a day – to detoxify the liver and help normalize the estrogen levels.
  • Calcium is another important mineral to take but I usually get it through food and my CMD.

I know that’s a lot of supplements to take but nutrients don't work in isolation, they work in synergy. But every person is different and I could create a program suitable for each one.

Herbal remedies to try:

  • Raspberry leaf tea – it tones the female system.
  • Ginger tea – it increases blood circulation and warms the insides and the extremities.
  • Peppermint tea – it supports the digestive system and reduces muscles cramps.
  • Chamomile tea – it relaxes the muscles and supports the digestive system.
  • Turmeric tea – liver tonic.

Sweeten your teas with honey or muscovado sugar if desired.

Peppermint

Some lifestyle changes would definitely help ease the monthly cycle:

  • Exercise such as yoga or Pilates increases blood circulation, regulate hormones, remove toxins, enhances nutrient absorption and strengthen organs.
  • Getting enough sleep is essential in lowering cortisol levels which helps lower stress in our body.
  • Consume 8-10 glasses of water a day for nutrient circulation.
  • Slow deep breathing is an important technique to bring adequate oxygen to all tissues of the body.
  • Eat small frequent meals throughout the day to balance blood glucose levels.
  • Get enough sunshine every morning for about 15 minutes to obtain adequate vitamin D.
  • Have a warm bath of magnesium sulfate and baking soda to detoxify and relax the body.
  • Try alternative medicine such as acupuncture and acupressure.
  • Try hot compress to relieve pain.
  • Massage the area with a mixture of 1 tbsp carrier oil such as jojoba oil with 5 drops of chamomile or ginger essential oil for 3-5 minutes. Cover with thick towel to keep it warm.
  • I believe that being at peace with uncertainty is the most important. Whether you are employed or unemployed, single or married, successful or unsuccessful, having peace of mind surpasses everything.

Orange-Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes and Arugula

To summarize, there are four things that you need to keep in mind in order to have a smooth-sailing menstruation every month:

  • Improve liver function by detoxifying your body and eating clean, pure, whole foods.
  • Have a regular bowel movement once or twice a day by eating whole foods. When you’re not having a good bowel movement, the liver will suffer.
  • Follow your joy. Whatever negative emotions you are feeling every single day – sadness, anger or fear also affects your liver. The most important thing you can have is to be at peace with uncertainty. It's hard to achieve but anything is possible.
  • Increase blood circulation through exercise, deep breathing, therapeutic massage and eating the right kinds of food.

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

If you’re suffering from menstrual cramps every month, follow the suggestions above. It is also important to listen to your own body for symptoms and reactions from certain foods. I know I am not a doctor but this is what I understand – whole, real, unprocessed foods along with nutritional therapy and natural solutions are the medicine of the future. You can’t go wrong with it.



14 comments:

  1. Thanks for all of the great info. I wish I was as disciplined as you are :-)

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  2. What a wonderful blog! I am a nutritionist and you did a wonderful job presenting the information with great photos. Thank you!

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  3. A very good blog post...very informative and useful. I'll let my friends know if they hv this problem. Sometimes it's so heart breaking to see them suffer. Thank you.

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  4. @ Mary,thank you. I wanted to share my experience. I don't suffer like I used to.

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  5. very nice and informative blog
    here is a blog about women health and issues related to vagina
    http://www.mybabydoc.com/blog/
    tubal reversal

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  6. Food balance is really necessary for all people but to much necessary during pregnancy.

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  7. What a fantastic blog, Divina. I had gone through emotional turmoil the few years prior to menopause. I am now 56. To ease my monthly migraine, hot flushes. I cut out all sugar products completely and notice the migraine getting less and less painful. After 11 months and several accupunctures, my migraine was completely gone. I include yams, sweet potatoes and taro in my diet to prevent hot flushes. It seems to work. I eat all these because I saw my mom eating sweet potatoes all the time with her rice porridge. Hope this helps.
    Faye

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  8. Hi Faye. Thanks for the suggestions. It's really hard to give up sweets sometimes but thinking of the results afterward would be a great motivation. Thanks.

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  9. When i feel menstrual cramp i take some leaves of mint boiled then with water and drank.Its really relief my pain very soon.

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  10. Do you have a diet for UTI?

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  11. Hello Anonymous, very very sorry for the late reply... life has been busy and forgot to check on my comments... I know it's been months, if you're still interested, let me know... I'm working on it.. Thanks.

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  12. My doctor advised me of a fruity and leafy vegetable diet alongside food supplements from supplements canada to boost my deficiencies.

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  13. Thank you for such a wonderful, informative article. I will definitely try to follow these suggestions. Sometimes I say to my friends, "Oh, that time of month when your intestines go haywire and you can't eat anything that tastes good."

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Your comments, suggestions, feedback are all welcome.