Archives for February 2019

Five All Natural Home Remedies For Period Pain That Can Cut Menstrual Cramps in Half

It's 12am and your period just started. You search the nightstand for your midol pm and it's not there. Quick, what do you do? Here are five all natural ways to decrease period pain that you can put to work right now to calm even your worst menstrual cramps.
We've all been there. You wake up late in the night only to realize that your period has arrived — oh, and your uterus is kicking the crap out of your other internal organs. Keep reading to learn what causes period cramps, why you might not want to reach for the aspirin, and what you can do for all natural pain relief.

First off, you are not alone, sister! Did you know that 88% of all women report significant cramping during their cycles each month. According to a UK study, women report that they often miss a day of work per month due to cramps, and even if they go to work, they feel like their work is compromised because of their period pain.

When those cramps kick in, most women go straight for the aspirin or ibuprofen, but it turns out that that might not be the best idea — a recent review of NSAID use for dysmenorrhea (painful periods) concluded that “women using them need to be aware of the substantial risk of adverse effects.” Common adverse effects of NSAIDs include: stomach problems (bleeding, ulcer, upset stomach), high blood pressure, fluid retention and swelling, kidney problems, heart problems, and rashes. 

So what causes cramps? Basically, as your body tries to get rid of your old uterine lining, an inflammatory process leads to contractions in the uterine walls. These contractions, what we normally call menstrual or period cramps, help to move the old lining out of the uterus. While there’s nothing wrong with a few mild twinges, if you suffer from intense period pain, it means that this process isn’t going as well as it should.

Don't worry — here are five totally natural ways for you to beat period pain.

Get a Move On…

…and do it on a regular basis. You don’t need to go to a midnight spin class or boot camp to get the benefit either. Research has shown that moderate, regular exercise was effective at significantly reducing cramps associated with menstruation. Even daily walks mixed with some yoga can get your blood pumping enough to reduce your cramping. When you wake up with cramps, try doing a combination of child’s pose, supine twist, and happy baby to relax the low back and abdominal muscles.

Love Thyself (or Someone Else)

This one is a little different for everyone, but lots of women report that orgasm makes a HUGE difference for their period cramps. Orgasm releases a cascade of feel-good chemicals in the body that can reduce pain. It also increases blood flow to your reproductive organs which may also help alleviate pain. Heck you’re already in bed and awake, why not use that time to GET BUSY.

Breathe Through It

Our hectic daily lives stress out every body system… especially your reproductive system. These high levels of stress and stress hormones affect liver function in the second half of your cycle and can contribute to both pms and cramping. Yoga, meditation, exercise and journaling have all been shown to reduce stress and the effects of stress on your body. In the moment, mindfulness exercises have been shown to decrease pain. Focus on your breath, and slowly scan your body from top to bottom. Notice anything that you’re feeling, but don’t focus on the pain. Slowly move your awareness around your body and you’ll notice the pain start to fade away.

The Alpha and The Omega. Ok, Actually Just the Omega.

Fish Oil and other Omega 3’s have been shown to naturally reduce pain by improving blood flow. Omega 3’s can also help reduce the clotting (and some menstrual pain) with their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich nutrients. They also decrease prostaglandin production related to menstrual cramping pain.

Magnesium Midnight Snacks

Magnesium. If you have a magnesium deficiency (only 20% of Americans get the RDA of magnesium), studies show supplementing with Magnesium could make help your cramps better. Alcohol, caffeine, sodas, sugar and processed foods can leech magnesium from your body leaving you prone to more cramping. Food is probably the easiest way to naturally supplement your magnesium intake, so reach for more leafy vegetables, beets, beans, shrimp and salmon to increase your daily intake.

Still Suffering?

Pain during your period can be equivalent to the pain felt during a heart attack — no one should “just have to deal” with that kind of pain. Whether it’s lost days at work, or days where you’re just not your strong, radiant, normal self, it’s time to take control of your life with better periods. Research shows traditional herbal medicine to be especially effective for common menstrual complaints. An industry leading Cochrane Systematic Review of 39 randomized control trials, including more than 3,400 women found that all natural formulas like Brazen’s were almost twice as effective for treating menstrual pain as pharmaceutical treatments like over the counter painkillers or birth control pills, all without significant adverse effects. Formulas like ours outperformed other natural treatments like acupuncture or using heating pads.

PMS and Period Pain Are The Health Epidemic No One Is Talking About

Over 82% of women suffer from PMS and menstrual pain.

That's higher than the prevalence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

If you’ve ever asked your doctor about you cramps or PMS, chances are you’ve heard, “Well, that’s just part of a normal period.”

At Brazen, we’ve never thought that answer was good enough.

The truth is that, for most women, cramps and PMS don’t have to be a monthly misery. We’ve worked with thousands of women to correct these common period problems. Let’s take a look at the two most common period problems, and what you can do about them. 

PMS

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is more than just feeling a little crazy before your period. PMS includes over 200 different symptoms, but the most common are irritability, breast tenderness, bloating, cravings, acne, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, changes in libido, and general stress. Sound familiar? Ugh!

What causes this special blend of suffering? PMS is caused by hormonal changes that occur at the end of your cycle. When this hormonal transition happens smoothly, most women don’t experience any symptoms, but when hormones aren’t balanced: whammo, PMS. Stress, tension, inflammation, diet, and digestive issues add to the mix, making this transition even worse.

There is hope, though. By improving hormone balance, and improving the body’s overall response to the stress of a changing hormonal environment, PMS can be significantly decreased or eliminated. Brazen has spent decades helping women balance changing hormones, which improves your response to stress, leaving you feeling human again. Improving the underlying issues that contribute to PMS means you’re not just masking the symptoms, but actually making positive, lasting changes for your body. 

Menstrual Cramps

Cramps before and during your period are the worst. Cramping is the most common menstrual disorder and is believed to affect up to 90% of women. Cramping is the body’s natural response to help discharge the old uterine lining before building a new lining in your next cycle. Just before your period starts, smooth muscle in the uterus contracts to cut off blood supply to the uterine lining. These contractions, or “cramps”, continue until the old tissue is dispelled. 

Why do some women have worse cramps than others? Imaging studies have shown that the thickness of the uterine lining is associated with the degree of cramping — the thicker the lining, the worse the cramps. If the uterine lining isn’t completely discharged with each cycle, it thickens over time, causing clotting that is difficult to discharge. Discharging this stubborn lining results in intense cramping and will often be associated with large clotting that accompanies uterine blood. 

Brazen has found that over time, it’s possible to build a healthier uterine environment to reduce or eliminate cramping completely. The bottom line here is that you’re not just stuck with terrible periods. You can change them. There is hope. 

Don’t Stop The Flow

When I saw this piece in the New York Times, my reaction was just ‘NONONO.’

Ladies, if your period/PMS is so severe that you are experiencing blackouts and migraines, can’t get out of bed, and have to miss school or work SOMETHING IS WRONG. These are not normal symptoms of a healthy menstruating woman, they indicate some kind of endocrine disruption that needs your attention! Stopping your period may improve your quality of life for the moment, but it is not going to solve the problem. 

Now listen, it’s your body and your choice, and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t choose period suppression if I was an astronaut going into space, but I think it’s pretty dangerous to promote the idea that eradicating your period all together is a good way to deal with these severe symptoms. NONONO. We need to address the underlying issues and correct them — not only to support your good health and happy life now, but down the road, too. Ignoring the signals your body is giving you through your cycle could land you with really severe fertility problems or other inflammatory diseases later on in life. 

It think this hit so close to home because that’s what Brazen is all about: we believe that every woman deserves a healthy period and we’ve worked hard to develop products to get you a better period, naturally. I don’t want women to suffer through their periods every month, and I don’t want them to have to deal with the lasting effects of suppressing them.

I want women everywhere to be empowered, educated, and supported in taking good care of their bodies, and I know that ignoring your body and shutting it down is not the way forward.

How To Stop Period Cravings From Taking Over Your Life

Ever feel like you want to eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE followed by ALL THE PASTA before or during your period? Yeah, us too. It’s because your main reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) along with serotonin (the happiness hormone) all have a big dip and remain low during your period, while cortisol (the stress hormone) increases. If you’re not paying attention, the changes in your body chemicals can leave you with an empty bag of chips in one hand, an empty tub of ice cream in the other, and one sick stomach. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way! If you’re a little proactive, you can actually beat the cravings while giving your body what it really needs before and during your period.  Here are a few tips:

Eat a good breakfast. And no, a bowl of Coco Puffs doesn’t count! You want protein and you want some healthy fats to start your day right and keep your blood sugar level. Try avocado toast and an egg or a smoothie with almond milk and greens. 

Choose better treats. When you’re jonesing for salty carbs, make some chipotle sweet potato fries and if it’s something sweet, have a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds. These treats are guilt free, supportive of good health, and can satisfy your cravings.

Ease up on caffeine and alcohol. I know it seems brutal, but the dehydrating and depressing effects of caffeine and alcohol are only going to make your cravings worse. Stick to one cup of coffee or tea in the morning and try to skip happy hour for a few days when your cravings are at their worst.

Get some Magnesium. It’ll help keep the bloat at bay and will support a good night’s rest, which means you will be at your best throughout the day. Try bananas, pumpkin seeds, and beans to up your daily intake.

Listen to your belly. Your nutritional needs change quite a bit throughout your cycle and lots of women are extra hungry before and during their period. Pay attention to that! You should always eat when you are hungry–it will help keep your blood sugar levels even and stop you from having a hangry binge on garbage.

Get outside (and Take it Easy!). Being in nature is awesome for reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin levels and relaxing the mind and body, so taking a walk in a beautiful place or going for a gentle swim will make you feel great. When that serotonin is where it’s supposed to be, your chances of overeating are radically reduced. Be mindful though; menstruation actually takes a lot of energy, so this is not the time to push yourself to your physical limits.

What The Color of Your Period Blood Can Tell You About Your Menstrual Cycle — And Your Health

It may sound weird, but checking the color and consistency of your menstrual blood can be super interesting and empowering. It's not uncommon for your period blood to change from month to month and while it should be fresh red, it can also be black, blue, brown, rusty, bright red, pink, pale, watery or clotty. Each color sends you a message about what's going on with your body – the trick is learning to read it.

Your menstrual blood is made up in part by your uterine lining, which sloughs off when you’re not pregnant and there’s no fertilized egg for it to support. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that your period and the color of your blood can give you a sneak peak into what’s going on with your uterine lining. And since a healthy uterine lining is key for reproduction (aka the biological goal of your entire body), the health of your lining reflects not only your reproductive health and fertility but also your overall health.

The key is decoding what the color and consistency of your blood are telling you. Here’s what you should know:

#PeriodGoals: fresh, bright red period blood

Your period blood should be a nice bright red – like blood from a fresh cut or strawberry jam (yum).

If your menstrual blood looks like this, it’s a good sign that your uterine lining is healthy. When your uterine lining is healthy, that means your digestive system, immune system, and endocrine (hormone) system are all functioning like they should be. In other words, your body is strong, healthy, and getting what it needs.

Here’s why: in order to produce a vibrant, velvety red uterine lining, all of your body’s systems need to be working well, and working together. Your body has two biological imperatives, to stay alive and to reproduce, in that order. Once it has taken care of its own needs then it can put extra resources into the reproductive side of things, aka your uterine lining.

Pale, pink, scanty, and watery periods

When there aren’t enough resources to go around and it boils down to keeping you alive versus building a uterine lining strong enough to bring little mini-yous into the world, your body will choose survival. So, when your body is dealing with limited resources, your reproductive system suffers.

Pale, pink, scanty, and/or watery periods indicate that your body’s basic needs aren’t being adequately met, especially on the nutrition front.

Often this is because you’re not getting enough high-quality nutrition in your diet. If that’s the case for you, try staying away from processed foods and aim to eat an iron-rich whole foods diet with most of your calories coming from protein and healthy fats. Remember: iron and protein are essential nutrients for creating blood.

Sometimes people with healthy, iron-rich, protein-rich diets still have deficient periods because their bodies struggle to process the nutrients they’re consuming. Digestion issues or absorption issues are usually to blame – food sensitivities, like gluten or dairy, can screw up the process of turning food into building blocks for the rest of your body.

Whatever the cause, pinkish, watery, or pale periods can be a warning sign that you need to put the breaks on a little bit, get some extra rest, and focus on taking care of yourself.

Dark brown, rusty, and clotty periods

Periods with dark brown, rusty and cloth blood tend to suck. Essentially they tell you that your body is having a really hard time shedding your uterine lining, and they usually go hand-in-hand with cramps.

So, let’s talk about menstrual cramps for a sec. Do you know why they exist? Beneath the uterine lining itself, your uterus is made of muscle. When your lining doesn’t shed easily on its own, the walls of the uterus contract and spasm to help shake it loose. Those spasms are what we call period cramps. (More on that here.)

Essentially, the reason that your period blood turns that rusty brownish color, or that it’s full of clots, it that it has become old and stale. Think of a time when you cut yourself, after a while the blood dries up and becomes this sort of rusty brown stuff, right? The same thing can happen with your uterine lining. When your body is struggling to get the old lining out of you and things are taking longer than they should, your blood hangs around and gets stale.

What causes this? It could be elevated body temperatures, like those caused by chronic inflammation or hormonal imbalances, which “dry up” the blood and make it more stubborn to remove. Or, if you have a really heavy or really light period, it may mean that your body is just having a hard time getting rid of the built-up lining in the uterus. This can compound over time, making cramps worse and worse.

FYI: We’ve totally got you covered here. Our 100% all-natural Cramp Support formula is especially designed to promote a healthy menstrual flow, to get your bleeding back on track, and right where it’s supposed to be. It also contains a number of medicinal herbs that have been shown to out-perform over the counter painkillers for menstrual cramps.

Blue, black, and purple period blood

If you’ve ever had a black, blue, or super dark purple period, you know that it can be a little surprising. These really dark periods are a sign that your uterine lining has become even more stagnant than the rusty brown ones that we covered above. Blue and purple periods may also be a sign of poorly oxygenated blood or colder than normal body temperatures, which can result from hypothyroid disorders.

Black periods are a sign that your uterine lining is REALLY super stuck. They are usually accompanied by a lot of clotting and pain and are also sometimes associated with endometriosis, fibroids, or other blood clotting issues.

If black periods are common for you, you may want to check in with your OB/GYN. Don’t freak out – black periods don’t mean that something is definitely wrong, just that things aren’t working as well as they could be. If you’re even concerned that something may be wrong with your period, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor though.

How to improve a weird period

Our founder has worked with thousands of women who looked like they were in great shape but suffered from terrible periods. They were healthy on the outside but weren’t listening to what their bodies were telling them on the inside. How could they when no one had taught them how to decode their period symptoms?

Beyond education, we help people improve their periods with our all-natural supplements. Blended by master herbalists, and refined over our founder’s 20+ years of clinical practice, our supplements are designed to stop period problems like cramps and PMS before they start. They address the root causes of your symptoms, so you can prevent the symptoms from showing up in the first place. So far, they’ve helped over 10K people with periods – we’re hoping and betting that they will help you too.