7 Brilliant Home Remedies for Period Pain

Cramping, bloating, mood swings, lower back pain, headache, fatigue, heavy bleeding – “This ‘natural process’ is our passage into womanhood? Seriously? Why can’t I just be a boy!?” (Yes that’s me complaining every 28 days, while being curled up in bed with a hot water bottle).

Did you know that dysmenorrhea i.e. extreme period pain interferes with the daily activities of 1 in every 5 women according to the American Academy of Family Physicians

? John Guillebaud, Professor of Reproductive Health at University College London, says that research shows period pain can at times be as “bad as having a heart attack.” Heart attack. Take a minute to think about that.

“Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have. I do believe it’s something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine,” John added. And I couldn’t agree more.

7 Brilliant Home Remedies for Period Pain
To make sure you don’t suffer every month and toss and turn in pain, we’ve spoken to experts and listed 7 effective home remedies to ease period pain and even prevent menstrual cramps. (You’re welcome!)

1. Massage with Sesame Oil:

Sesame oil is traditionally used for abhyanga i.e. the daily Ayurvedic self-massage. It is rich in linoleic acid, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Dr. Malini Sharma, Ayurveda Expert, Holy Healthcare Clinic says, “You can use sesame oil and massage it on your lower abdomen while you’re menstruating. It helps a lot.”

2. Fenugreek Seeds:

Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Clinical Operations and Coordination Manager at Baidyanath says, “You can reduce period pain with the help of fenugreek seeds. All you need to do is soak it in water for 12 hours, and then drink up.”

3. Heat: “Applying heat on the lower abdomen helps relax the contracting muscles in the uterus,” says Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Fortis Hospital. A hot water bottle always does the trick for me, but you can use over-the-counter heating pads or patches for comfort as well. Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Max Super Speciality Hospital says, “Sipping on warm fluids or taking a hot shower also helps to relieve pain and make you feel more relaxed.”

hot water bottle period pain 620

4. Exercise: This may seem crazy to you, considering you can barely move (let alone brisk walk)

when you’re dying in pain. But exercising increases circulation to the pelvic region and releases endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that cause the uterine muscles to contract during menstruation). Yogi Anoop, MediYoga suggests, “Do yoga asanas such as pranayama and shavasana (the corpse pose) while menstruating, as it eases pain and helps the body to relax. It also helps if you lie on your back with your knees bent.” Dr. Ritika Samaddar, Max Super Speciality Hospital says, “It is important to exercise regularly for your overall health, but it is especially important if you’re prone to painful menstrual cramps.”

5. Ginger and Black Pepper Tea:

Dr. Malini Sharma, Ayurveda Expert says “Make herbal tea using dried ginger and black pepper. Add a little sugar for taste, but avoid milk.” Ginger can effectively reduce period pain, as it plays a key role in lowering the levels of prostaglandins. As an added bonus, it also helps make irregular periods regular and fights fatigue associated with premenstrual syndrome.

6. Cumin Seeds:

“You can make a herbal tea out of cumin seeds to reduce period pain,” suggests Dr. Ashutosh Gautam, Baidyanath. Cumin has a relaxing effect, and its anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties are useful for for getting rid of menstrual cramps.

7. Chamomile Tea:

According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry

, Chamomile tea

has pain-relieving properties. It helps relax the uterus and decrease the production of prostaglandins, thus reducing period pain.

The best mental strategies to power through pain

YOUR QUADS SCREAM as you power uphill during a Tough Mudder. Your traps quiver in the last minute of today’s AMRAP. You deadlift to the point of passing out. And, let’s face it: If you’re not at least mildly uncomfortable during your workout, well, why’d you bother showing up?

Pain is impossible to ignore—as soon as we feel something hurt we’re wired to start thinking about it to prevent future injuries, explains performance psychologist Jonathan Fader, Ph.D., the director of mental conditioning for the New York Giants. And, sometimes, discomfort is indeed a sign you need to back off. But most of the time, with proper form and the appropriate exertion, exercise-induced pain is really just a sign of cardiovascular conditioning or muscle breaking down and building back stronger, he adds.

Discomfort can signal “time to slow down,” “time to panic,” or “time to push on even harder”—and which your body is trying to communicate is almost entirely dependent on what you want to hear.

“In any kind of athletic performance, it’s inevitable you’re going to face discomfort, physical or emotional. But it’s your perception of and reaction to it that will determine how much power it has over your performance,” says Greg Chertok, a sport psychologist at Telos Sport Psychology Coaching in New York.

Powering through that healthy discomfort isn’t just the avenue to becoming fitter and faster—it also helps you understand your physical limits more accurately so it hurts a little less next time.

But how do you tune out the whining and tune into the winning? Here, we’ve found eight proven strategies to focus less on the pain and more on learning your actual limits.

Rope Mud Race

1. Develop a mindfulness practice

“Doing any of these strategies (let alone all of them) requires a level of expertise and familiarity with the body, so you can distinguish true discomfort from actual pain, which could be signaling an injury,” says Mark Aoyagi, Ph.D., research and practice division head for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

The most effective and efficient way to do this is mindfulness training. Mindfulness requires effort outside the gym, but putting in the time comes with serious payoffs, including better pain control, also improved sleep, improved motivation, and less stress. Check out the mindfulness app Headspace, which Aoyagi recommends, or our athlete’s guide to mindful meditation.

2. Plan for and embrace discomfort

“Any sort of personal best performance will involve discomfort because you’re pushing yourself past what you’ve done before,” Aoyagi says. “Expecting discomfort allows us to accept and even embrace it as a sign that things are going right rather than things are going wrong.”

Going into a workout or race, think about the moves ahead of you and how your body has reacted in the past. If you always get side stitches sprinting uphill, expect the cramping as soon as you start your ascent. If today’s WOD involves burpee box jumps, anticipate wanting to throw up and cry simultaneously.

Aoyagi explains that when we accept the discomfort, two really important things happen: First, we can dedicate our brainpower to accomplishing the physical task at hand—setting the pace and breathing, rather than fighting the uncomfortable feelings. Second, we avoid piling extra pain on top by judgment (“If I were fit, I wouldn’t be feeling this.”), worrying about it (“If I feel like this already, there is no way I’m going to be able to finish.”), or catastrophizing it (“If I feel like this now I might as well quit because I’m not going to get the results I want.”).

3. Think of pain as power

Pain is unarguably a negative sensation, right? Actually, it’s really thinking of it as negative that makes it so.

“Every feeling that comes into your body on the field, during a race, in the gym is completely neutral until we affix a positive or negative label to them,” says Chertok. Rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, and racing thoughts could be either excitement or anxiety—but which you choose to believe you’re feeling will directly affect your performance. “When we’re in a positive emotional framework, we’re likely to perform better,” Chertok adds.

Get your mind right: As fatigue or pain starts to flood your body, think of this new sensation as a flood of strength and energy instead. Feel the vigor coursing through your blood stream, and send the sensation where you need it most—focus on a stream of strength and power moving through your muscles, energizing your quads for the miles left, or powering your shoulders for one more press. “Thinking of discomfort this way makes you more likely to embrace the feeling as opposed to avoid it,” Chertok adds.

4. Set small goals

Take a race mile by mile, and take each WOD exercise by exercise. “Sometimes, when [the activity] gets really tough, we just need to make it to the next light pole or even the next breath. When we split up the workout or competition to the next little piece, the whole picture isn’t staring us down,” says Angela M. Fifer, Ph.D., an Ironman, ultramarathoner, and scientific program division head-elect for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

The strategy of setting small goals is part distraction, part reassurance from small wins: When you feel like you’re ready to drop but push yourself to churn out just one more rep, it instills the confidence that maybe you in fact have a little more energy left despite your crying muscles. Breaking the workout into chunks effectively teaches your brain that pain isn’t the real indicator that you’re done. Plus, breaking down the race or workout into small goals helps the time move faster—and, therefore, helps dissipate the sensation of pain. “Usually this tough time passes, and you will be back at it in a few minutes,” Fifer adds.

5. Queue up a cue word

Think about what you need most when you feel tired or uncomfortable—power, energy, focus, motivation—and make a list of words that evoke that feeling strongest to you. They can be as straight-forward as action words or phrases like “explode,” “cruise,” “get after it,” or something personally motivating to only you. “I’ve had athletes use the name of their childhood practice field or their youth coach to elicit feelings of fun or enjoyment,” Chertok adds. When your workout becomes wearisome, reach for your cue word and put it on repeat until the meaning sinks in.

6. Breathe

“Just by simply focusing on your breath and controlling your respiratory rate, you can alter your heartrate, clear your mind, and achieve an optimal level of arousal,” Fader says. Not only will controling your physiological response help dissipate the pain, but mental clarity will help you make smarter decisions on what you may need to adjust in order to avoid discomfort. Plus, “it takes your mind off of the painful sensations your body is experiencing and places it on another physical sensation that you can control,” Fader adds.

Whether you want to control or observe is up to you. “Being with your breathe, not trying to control, judge, or change it is one strategy. But feeling the coolness of air coming in and warmth of it going out, noticing rise and fall of the stomach can also be effective. There’s no one right way,” Chertok adds.

7. Distract yourself

Find a spot on the ground, sing a song in your head, count the number of colors around you—the mind can only focus in on so much at any given time, so offer it something other than pain to obsess over, Chertok says. Another option: Shift your focus to a part of your body that is not in pain, like having loose and relaxed hands while running up a hill, Fifer offers. Chertok adds that pretty much any distraction works, except focusing on things that are beyond your control, like another runner’s time or weather conditions.

8. Observe the sensations

These techniques all work well to blunt low to moderate levels of pain—but we all have a threshold. “When the pain of something becomes so great, you have no choice but to tune into the feelings it elicits,” Chertok says. If you pass the point of pacification, your best bet is acceptance rather than resistance. “Research shows that elite performers are more comfortable confronting discomfort, while amateur athletes use avoidance more,” he adds.

Instead of freaking out, control what you can—breathing rate, running pace, muscle tension—and think about “bringing intention” to your aching muscles.

“Physiologically, this gives more oxygen to those areas—energy flows where attention goes. But even if you can’t mitigate the pain, bringing awareness to a body part shines a flashlight to it—brings it to life in a certain way,” Chertok adds.

 

Researchers reveal new insights into rare chronic pain condition

People suffering from chronic pain can now heave a sigh of relief as findings from a new study can help researchers develop new treatments for those affected by the condition.

The findings by researchers at the universities of Bath and Oxford (UK) suggest that a rare chronic pain condition might involve changes in the way that the brain processes visual information, which in turn could provide new insights into how to treat the condition.

Approximately 16,000 people in the UK are affected by a poorly understood condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Individuals with CRPS report debilitating pain in an arm or leg, as well as swelling, temperature changes and movement difficulties.

Symptoms include burning, stabbing, stinging or throbbing pain in the affected limb, and everyday sensations such as a breeze blowing across the skin can feel very painful.

Individuals with this condition report debilitating pain in an arm or leg, as well as swelling, temperature changes and movement difficulties. (Shutterstock)

While its exact causes are not yet known, it is thought that abnormal brain signals about the limb play an important part. CRPS usually follows limb damage from injury or surgery, but the pain experienced is disproportionate and may last longer than would be expected for the damage itself.

For one case in every 10 there is no obvious trigger. And whereas most people recover well within a year, some people have some or all of the symptoms for many weeks, months or even years.

For their study, scientists at Bath and Oxford were keen to understand more about how and why individuals suffering from CRPS report losing track of the position of their painful limb and not being able to move it.

The team tested how quickly people with CRPS processed visual information in the side of their environment nearer to their painful limb compared to the other side of the environment.

Using laser pointers controlled by a computer, they projected two flashes of light onto the left and right side of a board that was placed in front of the patients, and the patients had to say which light appeared first.

Their results showed that people with CRPS processed the light on the affected side of the board more slowly than the light on the unaffected side, suggesting that information that is nearer to the affected side of the body is not well processed by the brain.

Lead author, Dr Janet Bultitude from the University of Bath’s Centre for Pain Research, explained: “People with CRPS are usually in constant pain that they can’t ignore. Yet paradoxically they often report that they are not sure where their painful limb is unless they look at it directly, and that movements are not automatic – they have to ‘tell’ their limb to move. The odd sensations they experience suggest there could be a change in mechanisms that normally allow us to process information at different locations in the space around us.

“Our results show that people with CRPS are slower to process visual information that comes from the side of their environment where their painful limb is normally located. Since we used a test of vision, the slower processing can’t be because of changes in the limb itself, but must be due to the way the brain processes information. We’re excited that these results can help propel us forward to developing new treatments for those affected by the condition.”

Current treatments for CRPS include pain medications and rehabilitation therapies which are vital to normalise sensation in the limb and improve function and mobility.

Dr Bultitude and her team are now investigating whether symptoms of CRPS could be reduced by therapies that are used to treat attention problems in people with brain injuries such as stroke.

The findings have been published in the journal Brain.

 

 

Researchers reveal new insights into rare chronic pain condition

People suffering from chronic pain can now heave a sigh of relief as findings from a new study can help researchers develop new treatments for those affected by the condition.

The findings by researchers at the universities of Bath and Oxford (UK) suggest that a rare chronic pain condition might involve changes in the way that the brain processes visual information, which in turn could provide new insights into how to treat the condition.

Approximately 16,000 people in the UK are affected by a poorly understood condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Individuals with CRPS report debilitating pain in an arm or leg, as well as swelling, temperature changes and movement difficulties.

Symptoms include burning, stabbing, stinging or throbbing pain in the affected limb, and everyday sensations such as a breeze blowing across the skin can feel very painful.

Individuals with this condition report debilitating pain in an arm or leg, as well as swelling, temperature changes and movement difficulties. (Shutterstock)

While its exact causes are not yet known, it is thought that abnormal brain signals about the limb play an important part. CRPS usually follows limb damage from injury or surgery, but the pain experienced is disproportionate and may last longer than would be expected for the damage itself.

For one case in every 10 there is no obvious trigger. And whereas most people recover well within a year, some people have some or all of the symptoms for many weeks, months or even years.

For their study, scientists at Bath and Oxford were keen to understand more about how and why individuals suffering from CRPS report losing track of the position of their painful limb and not being able to move it.

The team tested how quickly people with CRPS processed visual information in the side of their environment nearer to their painful limb compared to the other side of the environment.

Using laser pointers controlled by a computer, they projected two flashes of light onto the left and right side of a board that was placed in front of the patients, and the patients had to say which light appeared first.

Their results showed that people with CRPS processed the light on the affected side of the board more slowly than the light on

Lead author, Dr Janet Bultitude from the University of Bath’s Centre for Pain Research, explained: “People with CRPS are usually in constant pain that they can’t ignore. Yet paradoxically they often report that they are not sure where their painful limb is unless they look at it directly, and that movements are not automatic – they have to ‘tell’ their limb to move. The odd sensations they experience suggest there could be a change in mechanisms that normally allow us to process information at different locations in the space around us.

“Our results show that people with CRPS are slower to process visual information that comes from the side of their environment where their painful limb is normally located. Since we used a test of vision, the slower processing can’t be because of changes in the limb itself, but must be due to the way the brain processes information. We’re excited that these results can help propel us forward to developing new treatments for those affected by the condition.”

Current treatments for CRPS include pain medications and rehabilitation therapies which are vital to normalise sensation in the limb and improve function and mobility.

Dr Bultitude and her team are now investigating whether symptoms of CRPS could be reduced by therapies that are used to treat attention problems in people with brain injuries such as stroke.

The findings have been published in the journal Brain.

4 Essential Oils You Can Use to Treat Muscle Soreness and Pain

If you exercise regularly or are a gym goer, you may have experienced muscle soreness or pain at some point. Muscle soreness is a delayed reaction of mild damage caused to the muscle fibers while performing a physical activity. The symptoms may usually appear within 24 to 72 hours after the activity. While it may not be a serious condition and the discomfort may ease out with time, it is often accompanied with pain and your muscles turn tender. You may think of popping a pain killer instantly or an anti-inflammatory pill to relieve the pain, but there are some natural cures available too. Here are four wonderful essential oilsthat you can use to massage gently on your muscles as they have anti-inflammatory

and analgesic properties.

1. Peppermint Oil

Also used as an edible essential oil, peppermint oil

is a great remedy for aching muscles. It not only relieves pain and inflammation but also improves blood circulation

to that area for faster recovery.

peppermint oil

Peppermint oil helps improve blood circulation

2. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary essential oil has stimulating properties that can help in relieving all kinds of muscular conditions such as soreness or even a sprain. You can use it in a cold compress that helps with sprains and swelling. Add few drops of rosemary essential oil to cold water, soak towel in it and then apply it on the affected area for few minutes and then repeat this a few times.

rosemary oil

Always remember that essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil 

3. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil contains tannins that help alleviate the tension in the muscles and reduce swelling even in case of arthritis. You can add few drop a bath that can help relax achy muscles with its soothing properties.

4. Vetiver Oil

Vetiver is a wild grass that grows abundantly in India. Vetiver essential oil is often used as an Ayurvedic medicine. It has a calming and stabilizing effect and acts an a natural antispasmodic which helps in suppressing muscle spasms

. It also helps in relieving stiff joints.

Always remember that essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil like almond or sesame (good for joint pains) before applying them to your skin. Besides this, you should include more magnesium-rich foods like spinach, cashews, avocados and pumpkin seeds. Our body needs magnesium for the blood vessels relax, for energy production and most importantly, for protein synthesis. Also, don’t rest too much. Keep moving, so that your muscles are remain active; this will actually help speed up recovery.

 

 

 

Suffering From Joint Pain? 5 Foods You Could Eat to Get Relief

Are you suffering from nagging joint pain that would just refuse to go away? Age-related muscular and bone degeneration is the bitter truth of life. One cannot really outdo it; however, a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet may help delay its onset. Our bones, joints, cartilage and the connective tissues are subjected to great pressure and are highly prone to wear and tear. If you happen to have been experiencing joint pain lately, it is imperative to investigate the underlying reason and seek medical help immediately. In general, joint pain can be the outcome of any of the following:

  • Excessive weight gain that puts pressure on the weight bearing joints
  • Inadequate vitamin D and calcium levels
  • Previous injury
  • Lack of exercise
  • Conditions like arthritis, etc
  • Over-exertion on a particular joint
  • Inflammation

Apart from the above mentioned reasons, your diet can also make your body respond in a manner that could lead your joints to hurt. Food items that can trigger inflammation may cause trouble in people prone to joint issues. “An allergy or intolerance to particular foods could be a contributing factor to joint pain. Pinpointing the culprit foods can be difficult, but common suspects include dairy products, eggs and cereals. Scientific evidence suggests that a diet deficient in antioxidants, particularly vitamins A,C and E and the mineral selenium may also predispose some people to joint problems,” as mentioned in Maggie Pannell’s book The Detox Cookbook and Health Plan. Excessive consumption of processed food items and sugar has often been tied to triggering joint issues.

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Excessive consumption of sugar has been tied to triggering joint issues; Image credit: Istock

“Refined and processed items, carbs, trans and saturated fats are known to raise the inflammatory response instantly,” said Dr. Ritika Sammadar, Chief Nutritionist at Max Super Specialty, Saket in Delhi.

 

While regular physical activity, medication and physiotherapy may help manage your pain and keep it in control, your diet will certainly make a world of a difference. Take a look at the list of foods mentioned below, these must be a part of your regular diet to stave off or manage joint pain –

 

1. Millets

 

“People with joint issues and inflammation are asked not to have lot of grains, but milletflours are excellent for them,” noted Anshul Jaibharat, a Delhi-based weight-management and diet expert. “Buckwheat is highly nutritious and also gluten-free. It contains quercetin that has anti-inflammatory properties,” according to Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Healing Foods’.

millet

Image credit: Istock

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 

Foods rich in omega 3 – including fish, nuts, dairy and eggs – are excellent for treating joint pain. Their anti-inflammatory properties work like magic.

omega 3

Image credit: Istock

3. Herbs and Spices

 

Ingredients like turmeric, ginger, coriander, onions, dill, and lemon among others are all excellent for joint inflammation.

spices

Image credit: Istock

4. Fruits and Berries

 

Apples, apricots, cranberries are some of the top foods that can bring relief to your aching, inflamed joints. “Fruits are loaded with antioxidants that help the body get rid of cell-damaging free radicals and suppress inflammation. Avoid oranges as they may make some arthritis pain worse,” according to Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Healing Foods’.

berries

Image credit: Istock

5. Yogurt

 

Yogurt’s soothing, cooling and anti-inflammatory properties are apt to tackle inflammation. It is also an excellent source of calcium for healthier, stronger bones.

yogurt

Image credit: Istock

Diet can just be a part of managing joint pain. Get in touch with a medical expert to zero down on your condition and to device ways to manage it best.