Easing Cramps

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Of course I don’t know how menstrual cramps actually feel, but I suspect that if men were faced with monthly, industrial strength pain in the abdomen we’d go racing off to the Mayo Clinic in sweaty desperation.

A lot of women get considerable relief from the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) family of over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, which hadn’t been invented when my wife was younger and virtually reeling from pain every month. Aspirin is an NSAID too.

What many women don’t know is that the NSAIDs work best if started the day before your cramps are expected. This may require marking your calendar.

Some women simply can’t tolerate NSAIDs. Mari, the acupuncturist I work with, would go into allergic anaphylactic shock with aspirin or another NSAID. She’s an accomplished Chinese herbalist and having prepared herself some exotic potion from the Far East, generally stays out of trouble, at least crampwise.

Nutritional therapies can be helpful as well. Here’s a quick list and if you’re beyond the Age of Cramps, consider forwarding this to your daughter, niece, or new thirty-something supervisor who makes everyone’s life miserable once a month.

Use the following supplements daily (you need all these for other reasons too):
Vitamin C–1000 mg a day
Vitamin E–400 I.U. a day
Fish oil–two capsules daily
Calcium–800-1,200 mg a day

When cramps start, add:
Cramp bark–one teaspoon three times a day
Valerian–one-half teaspoon three times a day (has mildly sedative properties so don’t skydive or operate a punch press)

If your cramps persist, try a castor oil pack over your belly/uterus (yes, this is a solution your grandmother might have used). Soak a piece of flannel in castor oil, wring it out, heat in the microwave, and spread over your lower abdomen. You can keep it in a plastic bag for re-use.

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