by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.
Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.
I am constantly amazed at the number of women who have menstrual cramps. They seem to think that cramps are just an inevitable part of hormones and cycles. They are often dumbfounded when I tell them I’ve never had a cramp and they don’t need to have cramps either.
Here’s what I’ve found over the past 35 years of working with women and natural therapies.
Menstrual cramps are far more common in women who don’t eat well and don’t exercise.
The modern diet, loaded with refined sugars, fast carbs and caffeine, is notorious for messing up hormones. Here’s the short version of what happens. Refined sugars are ingested, which spikes the blood sugars, which spikes the insulin, which reduces the Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, which triggers an increase in testosterone and a decrease in thyroid function. Additionally, refined sugars create inflammation, which renders cell walls less permeable to sugar-insulin-chromium molecules, which leads to sugars increasing in the bloodstream, which contributes to the part of the craziness I noted first, the spiking of blood sugars. When the sugars and testosterone are out of balance like this, cramps (and other hormonal issues – like PMS) are the result.
As a sidenote – cramps can also be the result of endometriosis. One huge distinguishing symptom between endometriosis cramps and regular hormonal/nutrient deficient cramps is that endometriosis cramps often start at or near ovulation. What I am suggesting to correct the common, ‘garden-variety’ cramps may help slightly with endometriosis cramps, but they also need to be addressed in other ways.
Typically, diets that are high in refined sugars are also high in artificial foods – foods that are just not natural. These foods are also usually low in nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
What can be done about menstrual cramps? Lots! I’m not a huge fan of using vitamins and minerals. I’ll use them judiciously for special reasons. I prefer to use herbs, food, and lifestyle as much as possible.
Let me tell you a story.
A young woman, in her late teens, came to me. She had started out with cramps that she could ‘control’ with a heating pad and some ibuprofen. But then, over a few years she developed wicked, very bad, debilitating cramps. When she cramped up it was so severe that her entire body would go into cramps. Her hands would freeze into painful claws, her legs would totally seize up, her torso would be completely rigid, and she would be frightened and in amazing pain throughout her entire body.
She was very sloppy with her diet, in spite of the fact that her home was loaded with wholesome, nutritious foods. She would junk out at the convenience store and skip meals. As a result she was also gaining weight. Finally, she left home and went away to university. While there she did some serious growing up. She started eating better – real meals with veggies and protein. She drank less pop, more water. She started losing weight and the cramps lessened. There were no more ‘whole body’ cramps. They were simply pretty heavy abdominal cramps.
Then she started exercising. She got a variety of workout videos. Not only did her weight settle where it belonged but her cramps disappeared.
Funny, when she would get busy and skip her workouts for a few weeks the cramps would come back. Here’s why. Doing good, hard, ‘get the heart-rate up,’ ‘sweaty’ exercise helps the body burn off excess blood sugar. When the blood sugar levels come down to healthy levels the Sex Hormone Binding Globulin can increase and the testosterone can decrease. This, in turn, leads to the hormones being where they are supposed to be for a pain-free period.
Sometimes cramps are from mineral imbalances. Of key importance here are calcium and magnesium. Before you run out to buy some kind of calcium-magnesium potion let me caution you. That is not the best answer. We’ll deal with the calcium supplement question some other time. What works better to supply calcium if cal-mag tablets are not the best answer? Herbs.
In order to assimilate calcium and magnesium properly we need to have the right complement of minerals and vitamins. Most of us agree that calcium from food, especially from plant sources, is more bioavailable than isolated minerals in liquid, pressed tablets, or capsules. The herbal combination, Herbal CA, is made up of herbs that are rich in calcium, magnesium, silicon, vitamin A and vitamin C. Alfalfa is one of the key ingredients in this formula. This nutrient-dense herb sends its roots down 15 feet or more into soil that is not usually tapped into by other common crops. The minerals are naturally chelated which makes them bioavailable to your body. How sweet is that? Hold that thought for a moment.
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There you have it. Menstrual cramps are an indication of imbalances. As long as endometriosis is not a part of the picture it is highly likely that these nasty or simply inconvenient cramps can be eradicated easily with diet, exercise, and a little bit of supplementation.
If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available. I also invite you to like us on facebook and visit our other websites:
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Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).