Cursing Your Cramps?
Is there any other way to stop cramps while having my period - other than painkillers?
Two-thirds of all women suffer from menstrual cramps. Until a couple of decades ago, the pain they endured was written off as a psychological "female problem" that women created for themselves. But in the late 1970s, researchers discovered a hormone called prostaglandin F2 alpha that is released as the uterine lining breaks down, causing that organ to go into spasm and cause cramping.
You can manage the level of PGF2 alpha released through some dietary measures: primarily, a low-fat, high complex-carbohydrate diet. Don't eat dairy products, and ease up on the meat and eggs. Cut back on fried foods and commercially baked foods. Most importantly, make sure you get enough essential fatty acids. If you have plenty of essential fatty acids in your system, your body will produce less PGF2 alpha and more of a different hormone that doesn't cause cramps. In one study, women who took 1.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in fish-oil capsules twice a day for two months had a significant improvement in cramps, nausea, and headaches. They used half as much aspirin as they had previously. I know other women who say oil of evening primrose works wonderfully for the same purpose, at a dose of two to three 500-milligram capsules twice a day.
In " Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" (Bantam Books, 1998) Christiane Northrup recommends a series of supplements to protect against cramps: 100 milligrams vitamin B6 per day; 50 IU vitamin E (in the form of d-alpha tocopherol) three times a day; and 100 milligrams magnesium, three to four times a day. While you're menstruating, she suggests as much as 100 milligrams magnesium every two hours to ease pain.
There are some effective traditional remedies for cramps as well, such as raspberry leaf tea. It's nontoxic, so you can consume as much as you like. An herb called crampbark, or viburnum (Viburnum opulus), from a European bush, is a stronger remedy. The dose is one dropperful of the tincture in warm water as needed.
I'd also try acupuncture. There are pressure points that some people say will help, such as the acupuncture point on the wrist that's used for nausea, or a point on the inside of the foot. Also, smoking has been linked to added menstrual pain. And remember how much an influence stress can be. Work on reducing stress in your life and try out some relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga.