I want to briefly touch on 3 areas of women’s health where I think many women don’t realize they have all natural, healthier options.
When most people hear “birth control” they assume you’re speaking of the pill. The birth control pill is a relatively recent invention though, while birth control has been practiced for ages. And no, I’m not speaking of the rhythm method! Natural birth control, often referred to as natural family planning, is a method whereby you listen to your body and understand your fertility to avoid (or cause if that’s your plan) pregnancy. You aren’t filling your body full of hormones (with a cautionary list of side effects as long as your arm!) you aren’t losing your sex drive from the pill, AND you come to know your own body and how it works very well. It’s a win win win situation!You can find basic information with links for the different ways you can practice natural birth control here.
If you’ve ever suffered severe PMS (mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness, bloating, headaches, hot flashes, etc) you’re probably wondering how on earth it can be treated naturally. After nearly 20 years, I’ve finally been able to virtually eliminate PMS naturally. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine.
The first key is ChasteBerry Vitex. If you’re on a 28 day cycle, days 5-28 you take Chasteberry Vitex every day (400 mg twice daily for the first 8-12 weeks, then once daily as a maintenance dosage)
Next it’s important that you’re taking a daily supplement of calcium with D and magnesium.
The hard one though, is no caffeine. Ever. The stuff really isn’t good for you even apart from PMS. Read the book Caffeine Blues for more reasons why it’s essential to your health to give it up, as well as for a plan to quit.
Finally, if you can find the time (and unfortunately I often cannot), yoga is important for getting rid of PMS.
Rather than trying all these changes at once, start with the supplements, then work on getting rid of caffeine. It took me years to kick the caffeine, but once I experienced a cycle with no breast tenderness, I realized it was worth giving up just about anything!
This one may seem like an odd title for all-natural women’s health, but 21st century American women do not handle menstruation in a natural way. Most women use tampons—increasing their risk of TSS, infection, and micro vaginal tears, all while exposing themselves to dioxin. Women who go the pad route deal with uncomfortable sweating, heat rashes, exposure to dioxin, shifting protection, as well as sticky adhesive that can have, ahem, ouch worthy consequences if it sticks to the wrong thing!
There is a better way. Remember that disposable menstrual protection is relatively new, and new doesn’t always equal progress! Women used all natural methods for thousands of years previous to disposable.
Personally I think the most natural, reliable, and comfortable option is reusable pads. They are sooooooooooo comfortable, a cute accessory, better for the environment, money saving, better for your health and they make you more comfortable with the process of menstruation (many women even report less cramping, finally ridding themselves of infections and lighter easier periods after switching.) Sow how does it work? You purchase or make a selection of pads (and depending on your needs you can get them in various shapes, sizes, and absorbancy.) During your period you change your pad as needed (every 3-4 hours for the average woman.) You rinse the used pad under cold water, then place it in a pot to soak with cool water and a splash of vinegar (some women add a smidge of Oxy Clean.) After your period, you add a little stain treatment to any stubborn stain, toss them all in the washing machine, then in the dryer (or line dry, whichever your preference)
My two favourite sellers of the best and most comfortable pads are:
Also, you can do a Google, ebay, or Etsy search for “Cloth Menstrual Pads” and you can find many many options on your own!
So what about some of the unpleasant side effects of cramping, nausea, diarrhea that often accompany your period? Here are some great tips to deal with that:
Hydration decreases cramps significantly. One doctor in one of my books says "I tell women to drink as much water as they can until their cramps go away, then cut back." It seems so simple, yet it really works!
I haven't tried this, but the traditional Chinese acupressure points for cramp relief are found in the middle of the crease where the leg joins the trunk of the body. You can press there with your fingertips, or you can stimulate these points one at a time by positioning your left fist over the points on your left side, and your right fist over the right side, then lying on your stomach with your fists in place, using the weight of your body to apply pressure.
Walking is also scientifically proven to reduce cramps. I know, it's hard to even imagine doing that sometimes, but if you use some of the other tips here, they may be able to get you to the point where you can add some walking too.
Calcium is very important to ease the issues that arrive with your period.
B vitamins are very important, because they help your body metabolize hormones, so you may want to consider taking a 50 milligram supplement of B-complex all month long...this is supposed to be very effective, and is very often touted alongside the calcium advice.
Stay away from beef--the saturated fat causes the body to produce 2 series prostaglandins (which are what cause cramps)
Get plenty of omega-3s (from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines and other cold water fish, freshly ground flaxseed, walnuts etc.) They help ease cramps.
Vitamin C with bioflavinoids is also supposed to help with heavy bleeding.
Evening primrose oil or black currant oil. These are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis.
Raspberry leaf tea is an effective remedy for painful menstrual cramps.
Experiment, and find out what works for you!