Painful menses is referred to as Dysmenorrhea in medical terms. It is sometimes considered to be a symptom of an underlying condition, however, most of the time, it is the primary complaint and condition itself. During my clinical rotations in the Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics, I noticed that painful menses was the most common complaint.
It is known that in recent times, due to radical changes in our lifestyle as well as bad dietary habits, such complaints have become more and more common. Many Ayurvedic doctors believe that it is due to a sedentary lifestyle, stress, as well as a poor diet, that this symptom arises.
How to get relief:
The use of Anti-spasmodics and Carminatives, helps to ease and promote the movement and functions of this part of the body. Carminatives cause the expulsion of gas and appear to support proper peristaltic movement. They relieve cramping of smooth muscles as well as griping pain. They relieve pressure from the lower abdominal region and promote menstrual flow, thus relieving pressure within and around the uterus/pelvic region.
1. Fennel seeds/powder
Fennel is used for several menstrual disorders and is known to be quite effective in painful menstruation (see study). It is used for colicky pain, indigestion, flatulence and cramps (Especially in the lower abdominal/pelvic region). Apart from promoting the menstrual flow, it also calms the nerves, which aid in relieving pain. One teaspoon can be taken with a few sips of warm water, or prepare a tea by adding one cup of hot water to 1-2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, allow it to sit for 10-20 minutes and then drink the tea (with or without the seeds).
2. Ginger (Dry powder)
Though it is more known for treating morning sickness, it is also effective in menstrual cramping (see study). Ginger is an analgesic, anti-spasmodic and carminative just like fennel, but due to its heating nature, it is stronger in counteracting pain of this nature. Ginger is also known to relax the smooth muscles. Half to one teaspoon of ginger powder can be taken with a glass of warm water or hot milk. (Can provoke acidity, so be careful, preferably consume with a little ghee or clarified butter in this case)
This herb is mostly known for its sleep-promoting nature, yet it has a vast amount of health benefits especially for female related conditions. It is known and used for its carminative, anti-spasmodic, sedative, analgesic and emmenagogue actions. Chamomile helps ease pelvic/uterine pain and cramps (see study). It stimulates the flow of blood to the uterus, and thereby supports its functioning. It is known to cool and calm the nerves, relieve pain, and ease tension.
Chamomile in large doses can have a mild emetic effect, so it is recommended to take regular doses or to be consumed together with a little fennel or ginger. It can also be used to aid in PMS (This will be discussed in another article) Chamomile tea with a little raw cane sugar or honey should do the trick.
4. Other clinically-tested remedies:
– Fenugreek (see study)
– Valarian (see study)
– Cinnamon (see study)
Massage therapy and aromatherapy are known for reducing pain associated with dysmenorrhea (see study). Gently massaging with warm sesame oil (Black sesame seed oil) or pain-relieving essential oils (cinnamon, clove, rose & lavender mixed in a base of almond oil) over the lower abdominal/pelvic region, will help to reduce pain. Sesame oil is warming and counteracts pain and bloating.
After massaging with sesame oil, the application of heat (fomentation) is advised. Using a hot water bottle, or applying a towel (which has been dipped in hot water) over the massaged region. This application of heat can be done whenever there is pain.
(Exercise caution in cases of excessive bleeding with both sesame oil massage and fomentation)
When not on your period, practicing the yogic pose known as “Wind Relieving Pose” or “Pavanmuktasana” – As seen in the image to the right- should be done regularly, to aid in regulating the function of the lower abdominal organs and uterus. This pose may also aid in problems related to gas, constipation, and weak digestion. Yoga therapy is well studied and has been found to be effective in managing menstrual pain (see study).
(NOTE: This pose is contraindicated in High Blood Pressure, Hernia, Slipped Disc, Acidity, during Menstruation and Pregnancy, and a few other conditions. Yogic practices should be done under the guidance of an experienced yoga practitioner)
Herbs known to ease Painful Menstruation:
– Licorice root
– Sida Cordifolia
– Cyperus Rotundus
– Nardostachys Jatamansi
A very effective herbal formulation known as “Dashamula” is used frequently in Ayurvedic Medicine for treating pain of all kinds as well as cramping.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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By Dr. Nishal R.
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