Holistic Gynecologist Paola KS
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Medical School: St Louis Univ Sch Of Med, St Louis Mo 63104
Graduation Year: 1992
By Hillari Dowdle
If you don’t experience menstrual cramps, consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, “that time of the month” involves a clenching pain that causes us to miss more than our share of work and school days. To some extent, cramping is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, but the pain shouldn’t be (and doesn’t have to be) debilitating.
“Menstrual cramps are the result of the contraction of the smooth muscles of the uterus as it tries to expel its contents during the monthly bleed,” explains Eden Fromberg, DO, a holistic gynecologist practicing with SoHo Obstetrics and Gynecology in Manhattan. “It’s only rarely that I see a patient without them. When I ask about cramps on my intake form, almost everyone circles ‘yes’—and many underline it, circle it several times, and add a few exclamation points. So I’d say some cramping is normal.”
Intense or prolonged cramps, however, are often the result of too much tension and too little nutrition, Fromberg notes. “We suffer more than we need to because of our modern lifestyle,” she says. For relief, she steers her patients toward stress-reducing practices like yoga and away from a diet heavy on refined sugars and meat. “Sugar and meat produce arachidonic acid, which is associated with inflammation and pain,” she says. “I tell my clients to focus on an organic, whole-foods diet that’s heavy on whole grains and that minimizes animal foods.”
She also tells them to skip the pharmaceuticals; Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen sodium) work well for treating cramps, but they also carry serious risks. “There’s an increased risk of heart attack, or even stroke, whenever you take a NSAID [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug]—Advil, Motrin, and Aleve fall into that class,” she says. “They’re also known to cause irritation of the lining of the stomach and to exacerbate existing ulcers. Between the cardio and GI risks, they’re just not worth it.”
Instead, choose treatments that will help your body feel better and function without side effects. “We evolved alongside nature, so look there for help,” she advises. The following five remedies can help you make it through your monthly visit.
1. Chinese herbal therapy.
For instant cramp relief, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine turn to the needle. “Acupuncture is great for quick relief,” says Steven Gordon, LAc, a TCM gynecologist. “But for prevention and long-term relief, the No. 1 formula we use is xiao yao san, which translates as ‘free and easy wanderer.’ ” The herbs in this classic formula—bleupurum, dong quai, peony root, licorice root, and atractylodes—strengthen the spleen and liver and help get stagnant qi moving during menses, according to Gordon. “It will help move out stuck blood,” he says. Under the supervision of a licensed practitioner, take eight to 10 of the small Chinese tea pills three times a day starting a day or two before your period.
2. Aromatherapy blend.
Cramps often manifest as a dull ache in the pelv...
Author: Hillari Dowdle
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