Whew, alright! This post will be a doozy. But, it’s all the best, most current information I’ve got that’s been helpful for combatting menstrual cramps, naturally. This month (mid-month, February 2021), I SUCCESSFULLY had my period without taking any pharmaceutical pain relievers to get rid of the pain. This is a big win for me! Thank you for checking out this post: Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps.
My cramps have not completely gone away (I didn’t expect them to, as I haven’t healed my gut issues yet), but they were manageable! I just slowed down for day 1 of my period, rested; and besides some general fatigue, I was pretty much back to normal on Day 2. What?! Still kind of in disbelief. And encouraged that all of these pieces are coming together for me.
I will do my best to update this piece with new information as I have it, as I have found that my approach has morphed a bit up until this point. Keep in mind, everyone is different and this is not medical advice; it is simply me sharing my experience.
If you are a female struggling with menstrual cramps and haven’t found anything to help reduce the pain, I hope this post will be very helpful for you. It will hopefully provide you with some things for you to try and implement, if it feels good to you.
SIBO, Candida, Gut Health and the Link to Inflammation
Without going too deep down this rabbit hole (it’s totally rabbit-holeable), I wanted to point out that gut imbalances can contribute to the aches, pains and inflammation you are experiencing in your body. While this is not always the case for individuals, it’s something to consider if you have symptoms that you are unsuccessfully tacking.
Sometimes, those unresolved symptoms are still lingering because of an underlying gut infection. SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and Candida are pretty common, from my understanding. Also, a lot of my symptoms lined up with those associate with SIBO & Candida. It intuitively felt like a worthwhile pursuit to address my gut health first, even though my end goal was to lessen the burden of my menstrual cramps. Thus, a lot of my approach is centered around helping my body get rid of SIBO, Candida and nourish my gut.
Another update on this front: SIBO and Candida can be a result of underlying viral infections like Epstein Barr virus. I’m still learning more about this, but have found this article helpful, along with the bits mentioned about this in the Heal Documentary. Essentially, it has been helpful for me to consider that me not being well is the result of a systemic inflammation causes by these underlying viruses. Food is not the enemy–but if you are healing from a viral infection, certain foods can feed or starve the virus. Learn more about those foods here.
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
As always, I would (above all else) encourage you to be your own advocate. Be open to information, but keep the awareness alive that you are in charge of your healing. If something doesn’t work for you, feel free to adapt it to a better way that truly suits you. This is all just meant to be tool offerings; things that you can take or leave and add to your wellness toolbox, or not. Zero guilt or shame attached, either way.
You’ve probably heard before that all wellness and illness begins in the gut. I have found this to be true for me. It seems like when I am experiencing minimal bloating, the rest of my health feels like it’s in a good spot, too.
I’m not implying that solving the gut health puzzle is EASY, but it’s definitely a good focus, regardless of your current health state.
Aside from menstrual cramps (I’ve had bad ones almost every single month since age 12), I have been experiencing alot of food reactions (tingling, diarhea, bloating) after eating most meals–even the “super healthy” ones. I’ve intuitively senses that healing my gut would have implications for the rest of the body.
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
The Bigger Picture
Healing the gut means less inflammation. Less inflammation means lessened menstrual cramps; amongst a multitude of other feel-good perks. When you are less inflamed, you sleep better, your thoughts are clearer, your energy levels are higher, and your hormones are delivering messages throughout the body more efficiently.
Consider, also–that your gut health is influenced by other things happening in your body. Underlying viral causes can be the source. I’d encourage you to find a trusted, recommended Naturopath, Functional or Integrative Medicine practitioner close to you if you want guidance addressing these root causes.
This might be the next step you take if your efforts don’t results in a better–feeling you. If you are close to Kansas City, I highly recommend Dr. Jill Strom, her practice is Cura Integrative in Leawood, KS.
Healing the Gut with Food
Keep in mind, I’ve done all of this thru personal experimentation (though I’ve gone to an integrative medicine practitioner in the past). This time around, I have wanted to figure it out by doing things intuitively, adapting and endlessly trying again when things didn’t work or feel good.
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
Changes to my Food Intake
-Pay attention to how you feel after you eat. It was helpful for me to look at it through this lens (it was short term). Limiting high histamine foods, with the exception of pure Apple Cider Vinegar; this can be a helpful aid for some. I’ve been using Bragg’s & the Find Your Glow formula by Leaf People.
-Possible approaches that can help: Limiting high oxylate foods. Everyone is different, but this can be another category of foods for those with gut issues like SIBO and Candida. I haven’t completely cut these out, but they are something I stay aware of for the time being. Also, limiting high fodmap foods can help your gut heal during this time.
-Keep in mind, the problem is not necessary the food itself. Meaning, the food is not necessarily, inherently bad. It’s that your body is not flowing and processing as it should. So, you take the foods out until your symptoms improve and then you can try them again. After I did a few gallbladder flushes, I did not have the same issues! It seems like it was a stagnant gallbladder that may have evoked the gut imbalances.
-Lots of beef gelatin and collagen. I make a “jello” with the gelatin and I add approx. a tablespoon of collagen to my coffee. I have been avoiding bone broth for the time being. Even though it can be a gut health superstar, it’s high in histamine–so I’ve been staying away from it for now. I trust that I will be able to consume these foods again as my gut heals.
-I cut out nuts and seeds completely. Though they are healthy for some people, they contain polyunsaturated fats, which are a source of Omega-6s. Omega-6s can increase the prostaglandin levels in some women–which triggers cramping.
-Drink red raspberry leaf tea daily. I bought a few big bags of bulk tea to keep around so that I don’t run out.
-Eating food before coffee in the morning (and also eating every 2-3 hours, staying away from fasting). This was a last-minute addition to this whole routine, but it has really been helping me maintain energy levels, as I think adrenal burnout has been a part of the problem for me. I tend to go-go-go, and because of that–my hormones have gone wonky.
-Making an adrenal cocktail with orange juice + pink himalayan sea salt.
-Doing a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) gallbladder flush, as I am learning how poor gallbladder duct motility can cause SIBO. This flush includes epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), tart cherry juice, ACV, and olive oil. You can find a recipe here. She recommends grapefruit juice, but I opted for tart cherry juice right now, as grapefruit juice is high histamine; which I’m avoiding right now. This flush will cause you to go to the bathroom with some urgency 🙂
-EAT ENOUGH FOOD. Don’t try to starve yourself into healing. Your body needs the fuel (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) to help facilitate the recablibration and rejuvenation. Also, when you don’t eat enough food and you exercise often, you’re increasing the likelihood that you will reach adrenal burnout. Fasting during this time did not feel like it aligned with my body–my body felt like it needed fuel. I know that intermittent fasting is the thing right now, but consider that your body may need something different if you do not feel like you’re healing with that approach.
Still reading? Thank you for reading this post: Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps. I hope you are finding it helpful!
-It’s worth mentioning that I already eat a paleo diet in which I do not regularly consume gluten, grains and dairy. I was eating them maybe once every 2 months. I have cut most of them out during this period, with the exception of drinking a Brown rice & or Pea Protein Vegan protein powder a few times a week.
You may be thinking: well what the heck can you eat?!
I made myself a list to keep this easy for when I walk into the kitchen. Even though this list is short, it helps me to stay focused on what to eat the most of. Also, this list ishelpful when I grocery shop and feel confident that my meals will help me feel good:
- Coconut Oil/manna
- Coconut yogurt
- Chicken, turkey, grass fed beef
- Carrots, parsnips
- Siete grain-free chips
- Laird Superfood Creamer (unsweetened)
- Gelatin gummies (Made with beef gelatin + tart cherry juice)
- Raspberry leaf tea
That said, I would suggest leaving room for things to change for you. What feels good one day might change the next day. That happened to me a few times. Just remember that you are your own healer. Be your own advocate and leave room in your “diet” to make choices that align for you, with you.
The limited diet I mentioned above only lasted a few weeks until my symptoms went away. Not too bad! The gallbladder cleanse was the thing that really seemed to push the needle on that.
Even though my goal here has been to alleviate menstrual cramps, a lot of these supplements are addressing gut issues, and going after the underlying issues that have caused this systemic inflammation for me. As I mentioned above, it’s all connected. I look at my wellness as a whole, from a holistic standpoint. When one part is unwell, it’s typically indicative of an entire-body imbalance.
I learned with my visits early on with Dr. Jill Strom at Cura Integrative (my Integrative Medicine Practitioner) that unwellness is typically caused by one or more these: heavy metals, parasites, viral & fungal infections, environmental pollutants and/or mold.
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
-Anti-fungal, Anti-Viral, Liver Supporting (alcohol-free) tinctures to combat the SIBO & Candida & help my body purge them: Oregano Oil, Olive Leaf Extract, Barberry Extract, Neem, Nettle, Black Walnut, Wormwood, Lemon Balm, Licorice, Cat’s Claw. I rotate these daily so that their efficacy stays high.
–Quercetin (+ bromelain) – helps support body’s immune response
–Super Enzymes – aids digestibility of your meals.
–Seeking Health Ox Bile – this helps support fat metabolism so that the motility of your gallbladder does not become stagnant.
–Life Seasons: Premense-T – an herbal formula that I took the 2 weeks leading up to my period starting, helps support healthy hormones levels. Code jesica for 20% off
–Sovereign Labs: Curcumin – one of the active compounds in turmeric that fights inflammation, aids gut health and improves brain function. Code feelmoregooder10 for 10% off
–Sovereign Labs: Vitamin C – supports the immune system. Code feelmoregooder10 for 10% off
–Now Foods Magnesium Glycinate: I take this with my cup of coffee to help combat magnesium depletion (which is a mineral that promotes relaxation). Code JES for 20% off. I got this magnesium tip from my friend and wellness biz coach Abbi Miller!
–Seeking Health: Optimal Multivitamin, which contains methylated b-vitamins. this makes them more usable in your body
–Seeking Health: Probiotia HistaminX, contains probiotic strains that help combat SIBO. Some strains can actually make it worse. This one is formulated specifically for bacteria overgrowth and those that can’t handle histamine.
–Seeking Health: Histamine Block, provides the DAO enzyme which helps break down histamine
–Sovereign Silver: Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol – supports the body in fighting Epstein Barr virus
–Ancestral Supplements – Gallbladder, Intestines, Beef Organs, Thymus, Kidney. These formulations feel like they have already been really big for revitalizing my system; and it’s only been a few weeks.
–Dr. Recommends: Homeotherapeutic tinctures for detoxing on a deep level. I had to wait to start taking these until I had my histamine under control. Alcohol is high histamine, thus it can trigger those icky-excess-histamine symptoms for some. Luckily, after I did a few gallbladder flushes and taking the Ancestral Supplements mentioned above (especially the DAO in the Kidney product, which breaks down histamine). DAO is the enzyme that is sometimes lacking in those with histamine intolerance.
-Wishgarden: Liver Strengthener, Monthly Rescue & Wombkind have been the three formulas I’ve been utilizing. These herbal tinctures help support the body to produce the hormones necessary for optimium fertility and women’s health. I take Wombkind the 2 weeks before my period, Monthly Rescue the week leading up to my period, and Liver Strengthener most days of the month. I sometimes even two extra doses towards the end of my period, to help support the detoxification of hormones during this part of my cycle. Like the Dr. Recommends products I mentioned above, I didn’t take these until my histamine-related reactions calmed down. After those symptoms went away (and my DAO became regulated), I started taking these with no problem. Code Jessica20 for 20% off.
Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
For Non-Toxic Pain Relief
–White Willow Bark: I start taking this tincture at the onset of my cramps. The while willow tree is the original source of the active compound in Aspirin.
–Biofit 360: CBD Relief Cream – topical pain relief that I used on my belly when my (lessened) cramps started. Code feelmoregooder for 15% off
–Biofit 360: CBD Oil – natural relaxation and anti-inflammatory effects. I took the Citrus, 1000mg. Code feelmoregooder for 15% off
Other Wellness Practices to Support the Body
–Acupuncture. I’ve also been seeing Dr. Jill several times in the last year for acupuncture.
-Eat enough (don’t starve yourself)
I want to leave you with this: keep believing in your body’s ability to heal. Even when it feels frustrating, never stop exploring what can help your body. You may have to do quite a bit of unlearning and halting of old habits that you “thought” were helping you. Be willing to be a beginner and continue to learn, every single day. Rooting for you!
You can read more about my experiences with detoxing from heavy metals, mold, environmental toxins and parasites here.
I’m always looking to improve my health. The next big step I’m taking is to do the Quicksilver Scientific Black Box II to improve the function of my body even further.