Why Women Get Menstrual Cramps
by Dr. Christiane Northrup
Women with cramps have high levels of the hormone prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha) in their menstrual blood. When this hormone is released into the bloodstream as the endometrial lining breaks down, the uterus goes into spasm, resulting in cramping pain. Menstrual cramps are not just in the head, they are in the uterus.
Stress increases the level of adrenaline (norepinephrine) and PGF2 alpha in the blood, resulting in cramps. When your life is in balance, cramps usually disappear. When you become too busy or stressed out, you may have severe cramping on the first day or two of your period. These slow you down, as they are meant to. They are a good reminder that you need to make some adjustments and to tune in to the wisdom of your body.
In order to steer the body away from excess production of PGF2 alpha and into the prostaglandin E series, a woman must have enough of the right kinds of essential fatty acids. She also requires adequate levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Non-organic dairy foods have also been linked to an increase in cramping. Cut down on refined carbohydrates and limit red meat and egg yolks. They contain arachidonic acid which can result in increased cramping.
Apply castor oil packs to the lower abdomen for 60 minutes at least 3 times per week for several months and improve immune system functioning and decrease stress and adrenaline levels. After 3 months, cut back to once a week. Packs should not be used when you are bleeding heavily. This should eliminate cramping. Black cohosh, chaste tree berry, motherwort, and red raspberry are also beneficial.
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