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Natural Alternatives

One of the most common problems affecting women everyday is dysmenhorrhea. Dysmenhorrhea is the occurrence of painful menstrual cramps. Other symptoms of dysmenhorrhea include nausea, vomiting, and a headache during menstruation. Since more than one out of every two women of childbearing age suffers from dysmenhorrhea each month, dysmenhorrhea has become the leading cause of absenteeism from work, school, and other activities.

There are two types of dysmenhorrhea; primary dysmenhorrhea and secondary dysmenhorrhea. Primary dysmenhorrhea occurs soon after menstruation begins, whereas secondary dysmenhorrhea develops several years after menstruation begun. In addition secondary dysmenhorrhea is caused by a disease of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries such as cancer, a pelvic infection, or endometriosis. Since primary dysmenhorrhea affects more than 50% of all women who have a menstrual period, it is therefore a much larger problem.

Evidence suggests that the principal cause of primary dysmenhorrhea is the increased production of the hormone prostaglandin during the menstrual cycle. High levels of prostaglandin cause an increase in uterine contractions, which leads to more painful uterine cramping.

Most people who suffer from primary dysmenhorrhea often turn to medical treatments such as NSAIDS, oral contraceptives, and diuretics for relief, since these help block the production of prostaglandins. Little does one know that these medical treatments have a failure rate of 20 — 25% and have many associated side affects including, dizziness, stomach distress, abdominal bleeding, and stomach ulcers.

It has been suggested that chiropractic manipulative therapy and nutrition can be considered a viable treatment for women who are seeking alternatives to the conventional treatment of primary dysmenhorrhea. Chiropractic treatment can help primary dysmenhorrhea through spinal manipulation. A spinal manipulation increases joint mobility and stimulates the surrounding nerves. Stimulation of the nerve supply to the pelvic area helps to increase the blood flow. This is thought to be the mechanism in which chiropractic has been shown to be helpful with painful cramping. Since other musculoskeletal structures also share these same nerve pathways, referred pain from these structures can cause dysmenhorrheic symptoms and perhaps can be relieved by spinal manipulation.

Although the scientific literature is scant a pilot study done by myself and some of my colleagues showed significant improvement in all the participants in the study.

Exercise, reducing stress, and nutrition are also very important in treating primary dysmenhorrhea. Specifically, some nutrients that are known to be beneficial are calcium, magnesium, flax seed oil, bromelain, and papain. In addition, the following herbs Vitex agnus castus (chaste berry), false unicorn, and Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh).

There are several homeopathic remedies that are very helpful, most notably Sepia. Sticking to a low fat/high fiber diet and increasing green leafy veggies will also help with dysmenhorrhea. Lastly, liver detoxification is suggested for dysmenhorrhea. This is due to the inability of the individual to detoxify estrogen and progesterone with each monthly cycle, thereby increasing overall levels throughout the month and leading to the symptoms of cramping and PMS.