Before we get into the ins and outs of choosing a supplement, we need to zoom out a bit and look at the larger picture. Supplements are, as the word suggests, supplemental and there is no one magic pill or silver bullet for your period or any other health concern. At Brazen, we believe there are six core pillars that are essential for great health and amazing (painless, symptom-free) periods. Supplements tie into the fourth pillar, but they won’t miraculously fix your period if the other pillars are neglected.
The Six Pillars for Great Health & Amazing Periods:
- Hydration. You need to make sure you drink enough water, eight glasses every day. Since blood is comprised mostly of water, in the absence of adequate hydration, nothing can function optimally.
- Sleep. Make getting eight hours of sleep a priority. Without sufficient sleep, you can never get to a point of restoration. (We’re not exaggerating or overstating. Never.)
- A working digestive system. This is less about your poop situation and more about your gut health and your body’s ability to turn food into energy and blood. If you can’t get energy from the food you are eating, then you can’t make blood. Without energy and blood, your reproductive system cannot function.
- High-quality nutrients. Even if your digestive system is in perfect shape, if your diet doesn’t include the right nutrients, you won’t get the resources needed for abundant blood and you’ll lack the energy required for hormone metabolism and liver function – both of which are critical for a healthy period. For the most part, you need calcium, B12, magnesium, iron and omega 3s to have a healthy period. If you are paying attention to your diet these nutrients are easy to get via food. Just up your eggs, dark chocolate, broccoli, salmon, and greens, and you will have your main bases covered.
- Regular exercise. Exercise not only improves your overall health but also, specifically, your cycle. When your blood is flowing, it’s easier for your body to shed your uterine lining, which means you’ll have fewer and less intense cramps. (Remember cramps are essentially your body’s painful way of trying to get stuck linings out of you! If your lining is shedding properly and not getting stuck, there’s no reason to have cramps.) Research has shown that moderate, regular exercise is effective at significantly reducing cramps associated with menstruation. And 30-minute walks count as moderate exercise, so no need to go hardcore if intense workouts aren’t your thing. Daily walks mixed with some yoga will get your blood pumping enough to improve your period and reduce cramps.
- Stress management. Beyond the negative effects stress has on your overall health, it directly affects your cycle. Because stress causes constriction, it leads to issues like cramping and clotting. The how-to-reduce-stress list is endless (meditation, yoga, cooking, painting, hanging out with friends, surfing, etc.!). Find something that works for you and that you enjoy enough to do on a regular basis. Tip: if you enjoy something along the lines of walking, yoga, or surfing, you can conquer two pillars at the same time by managing stress while exercising.
Did you notice that supplements weren’t even on the list? That’s because as long as you’ve got #3 (a working digestive system) and #4 (high-quality nutrients) in check, you DON’T need nutritional supplements.
In the case that you’re eating a healthy nutrient-rich diet and are still deficient in one of the key nutrients and/or are still having period problems, supplements may be right for you.
Here are three things to consider before purchasing a nutritional supplement:
- Not all supplements are created equal. If you’re deficient in B12, for example, don’t assume all B12 supplements are the same.
- Many supplements come in a form that is hard to digest. If you take a supplement but can’t digest it, you’ll miss out on what’s in the supplement. Look for a food-based product where possible.
- Some supplements contain crap that is seriously bad for you and can actually make your health worse. Avoid supplements that contain artificial colors, magnesium stearate (the bad kind), canola oil, carrageenan, sodium benzoate, soy lecithin, soybean oil, titanium dioxide, and xanthan gum. All of those are endocrine disruptors.
The biggest take away here is that, for the most part, it is often easier to just make sure that you have the nutrients in your diet. If you aren’t actually deficient in a nutrient, taking supplements for that nutrient is a waste of time and money.
We know this advice might seem out of place on our website because we sell supplements. But the Brazen formulas are not nutritional supplements.
Our supplements are Chinese herbal formulas designed to improve the function of the organs that must work optimally in order for you to have a healthy period. They go way beyond just supplementing the nutrients that may be missing in your diet.
The ingredients in our formulas are clinical grade, meaning that the doses are as much as 5 times higher than in a nutritional supplement. More importantly, rather than just making up for a nutritional deficiency, they’re actually designed to work on the root causes underlying the cramps and symptoms connected to your cycle.
These formulas work incredibly well to manage the symptoms of PMS and menstrual pain but the most important solution, the one that will give you the most impactful long-term outcomes, is behavior change.
Our behaviors and habits are reflected in our menstrual cycles every month and your cycle will tell you exactly how much it likes how you are caring for it. All the supplements in the world, even ours, won’t make a long term impact if you aren’t getting enough sleep, enough water, and the nutrition your body needs.