Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Menstrual Cramps & Adrenal Fatigue Revealed: Part 1

For years I have struggled with menstrual cramps. When I was a teenager, these menstrual cramps would be so painful that I wouldn't be able to continue normal activities. I stayed home from school on those days. As I grew older, this turned into not going to work on those days. I rested in bed, helpless, with no refuge from the pain. Heat seemed to help a little, but I still suffered. The only thing that would help were pain killers. As the years went on, and the dose of pain killers increased, the damage to my poor liver increased. The cycle was bad... every month the cramps would come on. I would try to struggle through, and when I couldn't do it any longer, I popped a Motrin or two. The cramps would feel better, but then the next month they would be the same.

 If you are a woman, then you probably know what I am talking about. Millions of women struggle from painful menses. They take pain killers, birth control pills, and other methods of suppression. Many of these methods help the cramps in the moment, but once they wear off, the painful menstrual cramps come back.

My Story

After a few years of suffering, a physician finally recommended birth control to eliminate these painful menstrual cramps. The birth control seemed to help, but there was something very artificial about it. It didn't feel right. I began to have mood swings and horrible cramps in my legs. The menstrual cramping was better, but the trade-off was not worth it. As I began to discover and study Naturopathy & Naturopathic medicine, I began to realize there were natural things that could be done to help painful menstruation. I also discovered how bad pain killers and birth control were for my health. For years I had subjected my body to toxic medicine at the expense of feeling no pain. I decided from that time on, I would no longer take the birth control, nor would I take pain killers (if I could help it!).

Well... the menstrual cramps came back... full force. This just shows that birth control pills didn't CURE me... they merely suppressed my symptoms until I stopped taking them. This, to me, is not medicine - it is suppression.

Since that time five years ago I have tried many (if not most) Naturopathic treatments for menstrual cramps. Some have worked for very short periods of time, while others have done nothing for me. I find it interesting that many articles out there say that eating a balanced diet will cure menstrual cramps. This hasn't been true for me, and I have eaten an extremely healthy and well-balanced diet for five years. This might work for some, but for the most part, I don't see it working for many.

Another Naturopathic suggestion I have heard is to take Red Raspberry tincture (or capsule or tea). I have also done this now for almost three years. It hasn't helped with the menstrual cramps. I continue to take Red Raspberry because it is so nourishing for the reproductive system. I would like to start a family some day, so I am building as much as I can now.

Some suggest Dong Quai. I tried that too. This, unlike the above remedies, helped me. During the months that I drank Dong Quai tea, I noticed the cramps were less severe. But, this didn't last when I stopped drinking it. For me, this was a palliative treatment - helping the symptoms but only while I was taking the remedy. This is not a true cure. A true cure would take the pain away, never returning again.

Goji Berries... yes... I tried those too. Those sweet, red berries seemed to help, but only during the time when I consumed them. I don't want to take a drug for the rest of my life, so why would I want to take a natural supplement everyday for the rest of my life (although Goji berries are very tasty and are highly nourishing). To me this was not a cure either (and I'm LOOKING for the CURE).

Up to that point, I hadn't found a cure.  I felt like a young jumbled mess. I continued to have extreme pain, but continued on my path to healing. I started to focus on myself and not everyone else. When I was a young adult, I took on too much responsibility out of a sense of obligation. This was no longer healthy for me, so I resigned from all my projects and groups. Those days to come were the best [and worst] days. I took a lot of time off work, yet began to feel so extremely exhausted. Many health professionals "diagnosed" me with adrenal fatigue & exhaustion.

So, there I was. A Naturopathic student with extreme menstrual pain and adrenal exhaustion. Hmmmph. Wasn't I supposed to be healthy? Wasn't I supposed to be vibrant?

After years and years of healthy eating, supplements, and natural therapies, nothing changed. What about all the "cure" stories I heard about in class? I was discouraged to the point of not believing that I would ever get better.

But, I'm proud to say now that I am finally at a place where I have found something that works for me. Almost two years ago I began seeing a classical Homeopath. I was put on a constitutional remedy, and I am amazed at my healing thus far. I will continue to post what worked for me and what didn't in more blogs to come (as this one is getting quite long... and I'm not writing a book on here - not yet anyway). This discovery has not only helped the way I practice, but it has also given me further insight into the world of Naturopathic medicine. More to come later blogs.


Svea Lynn is a traditional Naturopath, classical homeopath and holistic doula. Her private doula practice can be found here. Her Montreal Natural Fertility site can be found here


  1. Dear Svea, what really works well for me is taking raw milk, everyday. And I also practice oilpulling, where you swish oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. This is a great detoxifing method and realy helped me with my menstrual cramps.

    1. I love both of those things! Neither of those things have helped me with menstrual cramps - but each person is so different! Great suggestions for other people to try! :-)

  2. What has really helped for me is to regularly eat (organic) pumpkin seeds, not only during the period but throughout the cycle. About two small handfuls of pumpkin seeds per week is all that I need.
    I'm not sure that it's a cure; the cramps may come back when I eat less of them. But maybe I'm low in certain nutrients (causing me getting cramps), and the pumpkin seeds provide me with those nutrients (making those cramps disappear). Pumpkin seeds are very high in all forms of vitamin E, so maybe that's what I've been missing.