One of the reasons why painkillers like Ibuprofen/Advil are commonly used to relieve menstrual cramps is because they are anti-inflammatories. Women who experience very severe menstrual pain produce the hormone prostaglandin in excess. The excess production of this hormone leads to very painful cramps. Anti-inflammatory drugs can block the production of prostaglandin, significantly relieving pain.
While it might not do too much harm to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories periodically, recent research has urged the public to be a little more careful when using anti-inflammatories, due to the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The risks of taking anti-inflammatories are primarily associated with older generations though. However, if you would like to supplement, or alternate between, anti-inflammatory drugs for menstrual pain there is another option! It’s healthy fats in your diet.
It turns out that olive oil may be just what we need to relieve our pain and decrease our risks of certain illnesses. Olive oil is frequently used as part of the Mediterranean diet; the diet is associated with decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, and other illnesses, which all appear to be associated with inflammation. Olive oil contains the enzyme olecanthal, which researchers believe is responsible for the health benefits.
So when your period is on its way and you’re debating whether to use an anti-inflammatory drug or not, you can try starting the day with a spoonful of olive oil. Choose a quality brand with a solid reputation, preferably organic if you can access it. In other words, don’t skimp on your healthy fats. If you already love and use olive oil, try it throughout your cycle to see if your pain decreases.
Photo credit: Dom Crossley