How to Heal
Let me be real with you
learning to love your menstrual cycle is one of the greatest acts of self love and patriarchy rebellion. However, like so many women I hear from in my practice, menstruation has never been something that was celebrated in our lives. In fact, as young girls, menstruation wasn't only something that was ever discussed, but was also hidden, whispered about, and for some, an incredibly painful and shameful experience they endured month after month.
I wish someone told me sooner that period pain is NOT normal, even though it is common. With more than 150 symptoms listed within PMS- it’s no wonder why women often dread ‘that time of the month’. But what if I told you that there was a way to go with your flow, without hardly any symptom beyond bleeding?
Before I get into the full protocol, let’s first talk about what causes PMS in the first place so we can get to the root cause. One of the biggest reasons for exacerbated PMS symptoms is actually from imbalanced stress hormones. That said, a high stress lifestyle, lack of sleep and a poor diet all play a very important role in ensuring that it will NOT be a vacation when Aunt Flow comes to town. Other factors that play a role is undernourishment (especially in nutrients Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Magnesium and Calcium), excessive alcohol consumption, previous sexual trauma, or underlying hormonal imbalances leading to medical conditions such as PCOS, Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroid and Ovarian cysts.
I believe that how we nourish our bodies during our bleed will set the tone for the rest of the cycle to follow.
I believe that how we nourish our bodies during our bleed will set the tone for the rest of the cycle to follow. What is equally true, is that the symptoms that present themselves at our periods represent how we treated our body during that previous cycle. So, the narrative here that I want to reinstill for you is that, in fact, your bleeding time is an invitation to connect with your Inner Crone, your Inner Wise Womban, and your Intuition. As our uterine lining sheds, the ritual of menstruation offers a great release, and if we can allow ourselves to be still, to move slow and nourish deeply, this will create a huge and lasting ripple effect into all areas of our lives.
Food for your Flow
As your body undergoes the process of shedding its uterine lining, you may find yourself considerably more hungry than usual. As your body loses blood and requires more energy it’s so important to give it the fuel that it needs. My focus is on consuming grounding, and nutrient dense foods during this stage.
Focus on consuming foods high in protein, iron and zinc to replete the blood. Leafy greens (the darker the better- think Kale, Collards and Spinach) as well as Legumes such as black beans and lentils are high in both iron + plant based protein. During your menses, I recommend only consuming cooked greens, either sauteed in grass fed butter or olive oil, or cooked into soups- cooking down these dense greens make them easier to digest and absorb and won’t lead to further cramping or bloating.
Cravings are also quite a common symptom of PMS- and my philosophy is to cater to our cravings in nourishing ways. Typically, carbohydrates and sweets are the craving of choice because your body is searching for the quickest fix for high energy! Adding in slow burning carbohydrates such as beets (so high in iron, too!), sweet potatoes, and ancient grains is not only one of the best sources for natural energy, but also can help you dodge cravings all together by consuming more of these complex carbs in our luteal phase (before we bleed).
Eat your Cacao! Your craving for chocolate is your body signalling to you that it needs a dose of magnesium, which is found abundantly in raw, dark cacao. Your body is brilliant by design! Making a delicious elixir with cacao, dates, and coconut oil will not only give your body a nice dose of magnesium, but it will satiate that chocolate craving as well.
Feeling snacky? Consume dark colored berries like blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, nuts and seeds, beet chips and hummus and seaweed sheets are my go to, nourishing menstrual morsels.
Warming foods are also a lovely addition in helping your body recover while promoting optimal blood flow. Adding in a dash of Turmeric into your soup, Cinnamon in your oats, and Ginger into your tea are wonderful ways to bring ease to uterine cramping.
Botanicals and Supplements
There are so many incredible tools we can use to nourish our womb spaces throughout our entire cycles as well as during our bleeding time.
In addition to consuming Magnesium-rich foods such as cacao and leafy greens, it is important to supplement additional Magnesium. The reality is that 80% or more of women are deficient in Magnesium due to poor agricultural practices, high stress lifestyles, and so much more. Magnesium plays a super important role in hundreds of bodily functions- It is my top recommended supplement for Women. Magnesium helps to improve anxiety, stress and promote relaxation, improves elimination and treats constipation, prevents and eases menstrual cramps and pains, supports detoxification thereby assisting in balancing estrogen levels, treats and prevents headaches and menstrual migraines and so much more. I recommend using a Magnesium Bisglycinate 500mg (1-2 capsules daily)as it is easily absorbed into the muscle and tissue.
Nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf
Uterine tonics such as Nettles and Red Raspberry Leaf are classic womb supportive, nutrient dense brews used for thousands of years to support women through their childbearing years and beyond. Nettles, one of my absolute favorite herbs, is in itself akin to a multivitamin- rich in iron, vitamin K, protein, calcium, magnesium, trace minerals and so much more- nettles help to rebuild blood and nutrient stores. Red Raspberry Leaf is an astringent uterine tonic, helping to bring tone, strength and circulation to uterine muscle and tissue. It assists in both remedying scanty and heavy bleeding and improving blood flow overall. You will find both of these herbs in my two favorite womb health elixirs- Moon Magic (created for nourishing your moontime!) and my Harmonizing Tea- a blend of adaptogens, raspberry leaves, and warming womb botanicals.
Vitex Berry has a history in herbal medicine as a hormone regulator, especially in providing relief to PMS symptoms. While Vitex does not contain any active hormones itself, it has shown to act on the pituitary gland to regulate LH (luteinizing hormone), prolactin, estrogen and progesterone. This botanical has proven its efficacy in many clinical trials to treat PMS symptoms as well as regulating menstrual cycles and hormone imbalances. You can find Vitex Berry in my Balance Drops, a herbal tincture of potent plant medicines that bring balance and nourishment to the womb and moon cycles.
Help curb cramping with Cramp Bark. This is my absolute go-to for helping manage painful cramping. Cramp Bark, as the name suggests, is a anti-spasmodic herb that helps soothe tense and painful uterine contractions in both menses and post partum. A tincture is the best way to use this herb, as the bark would have to be boiled for a minimum 15 minutes to have a potent enough effect. Drop the tincture under the tongue at 20-30 drops every 15 minutes until the cramps subside. Cramp Bark is one of the leading ingredients in our Balance Womb Wand, a herbal oil roll on for your pelvic area and lower back.
Rituals and Spells
Rituals: grounding in nature, warm baths, wearing socks, moon gazing, journalling
In my personal experience, once I surrendered to the speed in which my body asked for month after month during my bleeding time (instead of medicating and pushing past the fatigue and pain) is when I began to understand the beauty of my bleeding time. When we bleed, this is a time to allow our body to rest and move slowly, to nourish deeply and tap into our intuitive wisdom. When I surrender to the slow and allow my body to rest, I emerge from my cocoon of menses with energy and life force that sustains me for the rest of my cycle. So use this time wisely by taking warm salt baths, going for a walk in nature, gaze at the moon (and take note of what phase the moon is in while bleeding!), journal your thoughts and emotions, and a big one- wearing socks 24/7! All my acupuncturist friends have drilled into me the importance of wearing socks as warm feet= warm uteruses! When our uterus is cold, damp or stagnant - this is where alot of pain, cramping and loss of circulation is reflected.