4 Naturopathic Doctor-Approved Ways to Beat Painful Periods

May 29, 2023by One Elephant

Article written by Cofounder and Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Elaine Lewis ND, at One Elephant in Oakville Ontario.

Many women experience Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods, yet several of the women I see in practice dismiss their pain as a normal side effect of having two X chromosomes. I am often stunned by the stories my patients tell me of having such heavy flow that they must change a pad or tampon every hour, or being in so much pain that they have to pop Advil/Midol/Naproxen like candy in order to function. And let’s not get into the women who suffer through a week of PMS prior to suffering through a week of their period. Being in pain for 2 weeks out of 4 is HALF YOUR LIFE! I am not okay with this and you shouldn’t be either. Rant over. Let’s talk about solutions.
These simple 4 tips to improve your painful periods are particularly helpful in supporting estrogen metabolism, contributing to their benefits: 

1. Drink Green & Raspberry Teas

Green tea is a a staple in my recommendations to women suffering with painful periods. The chemical constituent in green tea, EGCG, is responsible for its effect in reducing cramps, improving heavy bleeding, and some conditions responsible for these symptoms, including fibroids and endometriosis. I often couple this with raspberry leaf tea, which does not have the strong research support for its use in patients with menstrual complaints, but has worked wonders in my practice clinically, and has a strong safety profile and longstanding traditional use. Not to mention, these teas are crowd pleasers! They are delicious, both separately and if brewed together.

2. Ditch Coffee

As much as we love a soothing hot beverage to ease the cramping pain of periods, coffee is the worst choice to do the job. Coffee is a known pro-estrogenic beverage, which means that it can worsen symptoms like PMS, menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, and breast tenderness. If quitting coffee altogether is too challenging for you, try significantly reducing or avoiding it during the week of your period, or at the least, during your heaviest days.

3. Eat Ground Flaxseed

Ground flax contains omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and lignans. The lignans have weak estrogenic effects, which allow these compounds to displace excess estrogen. This seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? How can a phytoestrogen (plant based estrogen) cause lowering of estrogen? Think of it as a game of musical chairs, but the chairs are estrogen receptors. The lignans bind to your body’s own estrogen receptors, competing with your “natural” estrogen, and when they succeed in locking into that receptor, your natural estrogen ends up “free” in the bloodstream and able to be cleared through the liver.

4. Embrace the Brassica Family

No, this isn’t the new trending family on HBO, I’m talking about a family of vegetables – I know, much more exciting! The brassica family of veggies includes broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and collard greens (among others, but these are my personal favourites). These vegetables contain protective compounds called indole-3-carbinol and DIM, which are responsible for clearing excess estrogen from the body. Increasing your consumption of these veggies throughout the month, but especially in the first two weeks of your cycle can be an easy way to improve the symptoms of period pain.
If your period pain is unrelenting despite making the changes I’ve talked about in this article, you may have a more severe hormonal dysfunction or condition that requires further assessment.
Book an appointment with Dr. Elaine Lewis ND at One Elephant Integrative Heath Team to get started on a plan for your hormonal health by clicking here!