Dysmenorrhea affects at least half of fertile women.
Uncomfortable, it frequently leads to absenteeism from work and alters the social life of women who suffer from it. Focus on 3 natural therapies to prevent or relieve menstrual pain.
Relieve painful periods with aromatherapy
The benefits of essential oils can be of great help in the treatment of dysmenorrhea.
In a study carried out in 2012 1 , 48 people suffering from dysmenorrhea massaged their lower abdomen with a cream enriched with essential oils of lavender ( lavandula officinalis ), clary sage ( salvia sclarea ) and marjoram ( origanum marjorana) up to 3%, or with a synthetic fragrance cream (placebo group). This treatment extended from the end of their menstruation to the beginning of the following ones.
The results showed that the intensity of the pain was reduced in the 2 groups, but only the group treated with essential oils was able to reduce the duration of the pain, from 2.4 to 1.8 days. These effects are due to 4 analgesic components contained in the essential oils used: linalyl acetate, linalol, eucalyptol and β-caryophyllene. Similar results emerged from a study carried out in 2006 1 with a mixture of essential oils of lavender ( lavandula officinalis ), clary sage ( salvia sclarea ) and rose ( rosa centifolia ) diluted in 5 teaspoons of almond vegetable oil.
Finally, a study carried out in 2013 showed that a mixture of essential oils of cinnamon, clove, rose and lavender diluted in almond vegetable oil can not only relieve menstrual pain and its duration but also reduce the amount of bleeding 3 .
Massage of the lower abdomen alone certainly has a beneficial role in reducing menstrual pain, as shown by the positive results obtained in the placebo groups of the various studies, but essential oils well chosen and used in synergy can prove to be particularly powerful. However, it is imperative to dilute them in a neutral cream or in a vegetable oil up to about 3% (30 drops of essential oil represent 1 ml).
Combat dysmenorrhea with herbal medicine
The healing properties of plants are no longer to be proven, the richness and power of their properties make it possible to treat many disorders, and dysmenorrhea is no exception to this rule.
Ginger to prevent painful periods
In a study carried out in 2012, the virtues of ginger ( zingiber officinal ) were evaluated 1 on dysmenorrhea. This plant is actually known to fight the effects of several inflammatory diseases 2. 120 students with moderate to severe dysmenorrhea received either 500 mg of ginger root powder or a placebo 3 times a day. The treatment was given either 2 days before the start of the menstrual period and then the following 3 days, or only the first 3 days of the menstrual period. The results showed that the intensity of pain could have been reduced more significantly in the students taking ginger root than in the students in the control group. However, only the group that followed the 5-day ginger treatment was able to reduce the duration of the pain. Ginger is consumed in the form of an infusion, tincture or standardized extract (250 mg to 1 g of ginger 3 times a day).
Valerian to relieve the intensity of menstrual pain
In another study carried out in 2011, the efficacy of valerian was observed in 100 female students 3 . For 2 consecutive cycles, the students received either 255 mg of valerian or a placebo 3 times a day for the first 3 days of the menstrual period. If the intensity of pain was reduced in both groups, the group treated with valerian obtained better results. This effect is thought to be due to the antispasmodic properties of valerian. Be careful, however, because its sedative effects can cause drowsiness. Prescribing valerian for dysmenorrhea is less common, but the standard recommended dosage is 250 to 300 mg of standardized valerian extract 2 to 3 times a day 4 .
Preventing menstrual pain with acupuncture
The stimulation of certain acupuncture points would also relieve dysmenorrhea.
In a 2013 study, the effectiveness of acupuncture was observed in 600 patients suffering from menstrual pain 1. The patients were stimulated at a single point (Shiqizhui, in the lower back) or at several points, and at different times in their cycle (either before menstruation or during pain). Among them, 200 did not receive any treatment, thus constituting the control group. The results showed that acupuncture would relieve painful periods compared to the control group. Relief was noticeable within 5 minutes of the start of manipulation for those who were being treated at the time of pain, regardless of the points stimulated.
For others, acupuncture treatment in different places has shown better results than stimulation of the Shiqizhui point. In general, acupuncture before menstruation has been shown to be more effective.2 . A 2013 study of 35 women even showed that acupuncture relieved pain more effectively than a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug: the sensation of pain was reduced by 52.2% in the group taking anti-inflammatory drugs and 69.5% in acupuncture group 3 .
These studies therefore suggest that acupuncture could be an effective natural therapy to reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea as well as to prevent them.
Yoga to reduce menstrual pain
Yoga, which promotes mental and muscular relaxation, is also said to have the ability to reduce menstrual pain.
A study carried out in 2013 sought to observe the effectiveness of yoga on the symptoms of dysmenorrhea 1 . 30 women with dysmenorrhea and 30 others without dysmenorrhea followed 2 sessions of 30 minutes each per week for 8 weeks. The women then had to answer a questionnaire in relation to the menstrual pain experienced. After 8 weeks of yoga, the questionnaires revealed significant relief from menstrual pain from women with dysmenorrhea.
Another study carried out in 2011 observed the effectiveness of precise yoga postures on the relief of menstrual pains: the postures of the cobra, the cat and the fish 2. 92 students with dysmenorrhea participated, and 50 of them were placed in a yoga group, the other party representing the control group. All the women were followed for 3 cycles, and had to answer a questionnaire related to their menstruation. The participants of the yoga group followed several sessions during their luteal phase (= phase located after ovulation and until the last day of the cycle). The results showed that women taking yoga classes significantly reduced the intensity and duration of their pain compared to the control group.
Finally, a last study carried out in 2013 on 126 women suffering from menstrual disorders 3 has shown that the practice of yoga Nidra (yoga technique which consists of a kind of waking sleep) is not only effective in combating dysmenorrhea, but also against hypomenorrhea (= scanty and short period), menorrhagia (= heavy and prolonged menstruation) or even metrorrhagia (= more or less abundant blood loss occurring outside the period of menstruation).
Yoga, in addition to being relaxing and providing benefits on the mental, emotional and spiritual, would therefore be effective in combating menstrual disorders, and in particular dysmenorrhea. It can be practiced alone, but group practices are more frequent. Group lessons generally bring together 10 to 20 people and last about 1 hour.