Stop Painful Menstrual Cramps with Chinese Herbs
By: Cathy Margolin, L.Ac., Dipl.OM (NCCAOM)
Are you curled up in bed for a day or more each month with one thought: “What am I going to do about these period cramps?” You are not alone, as 50% of menstruating women have the same experience month after month. But why suffer when you could be living pain free? NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs*) only mask the pain for a few short hours. Chinese herbal medicine, on the other hand, has been used for centuries with well-documented results.
An international nonprofit organization, known as the Cochrane Collaboration, studied the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine in relieving menstrual pain compared to western drugs. Their conclusion: “Chinese herbal medicine for primary dysmenorrhea roughly doubled pain relief and improvement in overall symptoms compared with conventional Western pharmaceuticals,” reported Xiaoshu Zhu. (1)
Here are a few common Chinese herbs used for painful menstrual cramps:
1. Dong Gui (Chinese Angelica or Angelica Sinensis)
2. Chuan Xiong (Chuanxiong Rhizoma)
3. Bai Shao (White Peony Root)
4. Yi Mu Cao (Chinese Motherwort)
5. Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis Rhizome)
Groups of Chinese herbs, also known as formulas, are more beneficial than single herb remedies because the herbs work synergistically for conditions such as menstrual cramps. The Cochran study also stated that: “The herbal remedies were also significantly better at relieving painful cramps and other symptoms than acupuncture or a hot water bottle, with overall promising findings… Chinese herbs overall, whether standardized or tailored, yielded better pain relief than conventional pharmaceutical therapies.”
Chinese herbal medicine can be a bit intimidating when you don’t know anything about these herbs, and the five herbs above are only a few of the herbs beneficial for menstrual cramps in the Chinese herbal encyclopedias. Asian pharmacies sell prescriptions of herbal teas and pills daily, and Asian cultures have used herbs successfully for hundreds of years. By replacing NSAIDs with Chinese herbs, women receive an additional benefit of avoiding the nasty NSAIDs side effects such as upset stomach, heartburn, ulcers and rashes, and liver damage, to name a few. Women don’t need to suffer month after month. You can use Chinese herb supplements to be pain free and PMS symptom free all month long.
Primary source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
1. Chinese Medicine Program at the University of Western Sydney.1 (fourth issue for 2007 of The Cochrane Library).
2. Yin, J. Modern Research and Clinical Application of Chinese Materia Medica (2) pp 218-219 Beijing: Chinese Medical Classic Press.
* NSAID are Non-Sterodial Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. Generics and name brands include: ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, naproxen sodium, Aleve, aspirin, Bayer, Bufferin, acetaminophen, and Tylenol.
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