Ditch the Ibuprofen! Try this instead!
I'm shaking all over, sweating, my legs are bouncing and I am trying to breathe as I run a hot bath. I have no other thoughts, I don't exist anywhere but here in the pain in my pelvis. There have even been nights when I had to pace for more than an hour clutching my abdomen before I felt any relief.
For a long time (even as an herbalist), I would reach for the ibuprofen, eat a cracker and pop a few. Then, a couple years ago, after taking some ibuprofen, I developed some ongoing heart palpitations that led to a heart monitor and an echocardiogram. The palpitations lasted for months. Scary stuff!
I am happy to report that things resolved after a bit of time and that my heart looked healthy on all the tests. The experience gave me pause, however and it truly made me rethink the use of ibuprofen for my menstrual cycle discomforts. The other tid bit of information that came to me recently from an Anatomy and Physiology class is that ibuprofen and other NSAIDS poke tiny holes in the digestive tract each time we ingest them.
What's a girl to do? It HURTS and we want relief now!
In my case, I turned to my herbal allies and asked for help. I found that my cramp tea just didn't cut it for the really intense and debilitating days. It took some trial and error but over time I have found four herbs that dramatically help reduce and relieve my most painful menstrual cramps.
Drum roll......here they are....:
Jamacian Dogwood Piscidia piscipula: This herb is a friend of the menstrual cycle. It is a strong antispasmodic which helps relieve the cramping uterine muscle and is highly pain relieving. I like to take it at night before bed as its sedative qualities not only help with cramps but also with relaxation into sleep. Do not exceed recommended clinical dosages.
Marijuana Cannabis spp.: I know this is a controversial one. This plant is still illegal in most places. Where I live, it was just legalized in small amounts purchased from licensed sellers and the medical marijuana business is booming. Marijuana is highly antispasmodic and pain killing. I have used it in tincture form to alleviate debilitating cramps with unmatched success. This is not one to take before a work day or driving but to relieve unmanageable cramps and to keep you off the bathroom floor curled up in a ball.
Pulsatilla Anemone pulsatilla: Pulsatilla or Pasque Flower is not only an excellent pain reliever for menstrual cramps, it is also an amazingly magical herb. This beautiful flower emerges in the springtime here in the Rocky Mountains. It is a shy plant with powerful medicine. This plant not only helps with pain relief (in very small doses-2-3 drops) but also with nervous tension. It works on both the physical and energetic levels. Pulsatilla is an herb that would be well suited for menstrual ritual as it imparts a gentle energetic shift into the intuitive (moon) realms.
Black Cohosh Actaea racemosa: Another menstrual friend and one of my favorite women's herbs. You will also find her under Five Indispensable Women's Herbs. Black Cohosh is wonderful for those 'achy lower back shooting into the legs' cramps. It is an anti spasmodic and pain reliever. I find it a soothing ally to have on hand as it is also good for anxiety.
There are more ongoing things you can do to help diminish your menstrual cramps over time such as: womb massage, fish oils, calcium/magnesium, exercise/yoga, dietary changes as well as other tonic herbs to help you relieve your symptoms. Check with your favorite healthcare practitioner for advice.
May you have a pain free and gentle moon. Slow way down and truly nurture yourself during this extraordinary time.