Heavy menstrual cycles can be quite exhausting and painful for women. The Center for Disease Control defines heavy menses as bleeding longer than 7 days, needing to change tampons or sanitary napkins every two hours or more and clots larger than a quarter. Heavy cycles tend to run in families and be caused by other conditions like:
- Uterine fibroids and lesions on the cervix
- Bleeding disorders
- Cancer of the uterus or cervix
- Hypothyroidism, liver or kidney disease, pelvic inflammatory disease
- Certain medications like blood thinners and apsirin
- Ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages
- Birth control like IUDs, intrauterine devices, birth control pills
- Hormonal imbalances like high estrogen or low progesterone.
First of all have a gynecologist determine the reason for this condition because different causes need different treatments. If a more serious disorder is present one needs to be aware of what they are dealing with. If the bleeding is severe and long term, anemia, shortness of breath and exhaustion may result.
Medical doctors typically recommend using hormonal drug treatments to suppress menstruation, an ablation which is a surgical procedure that scrapes the lining of the uterus or a hysterectomy. These treatments may be used as a last resort in severe non respondent cases. However, there are natural treatments that are quite useful for this condition. Get tested for hormone levels. A lot of holistic doctors use a salivary hormone test to detect levels of hormones like cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and DHEA. It is best not to assume what type of levels you have because supplementing with a hormone someone doesn’t need is a sure fire way to mess up other hormones. If the hormonal imbalance is excessive estrogen, there are ways to bind that and excrete it better. A compound from broccoli called Indol 3 Carbonol I3C and/or DIM diindolylmethane help the liver to excrete excessive estrogen. If the trouble is due to low progesterone one can take the hormone progresterone as prescribed by their doctor, or turn to more natural remedies such as wild yam, evening primrose, chasteberry or progesterone 4CH in a homeopathic potency. Excess estrogen is thought to affect thyroid hormones, so many people with high estrogen show signs of hypothyroidism which are weight gain, fatigue, cold body temperature, uterine fibroids and excessive flow. Also low progesterone symptoms are similar to hypothyroid symptoms as well.
There is a lot women can do to naturally to improve their menstrual cycle. Diet and lifestyle are prudent. Here are a few tips:
- Caffeine tends to promote fibroids and cysts. Try to avoid caffeine as best you can. Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, chocolate and soft drinks.
- Quit smoking. Smokers tend to have more menstrual irregularities and cancer than non smokers.
- Try and eat organic foods as much as possible because pesticides are endocrine (hormone) disrupters. Foods that contain the most pesticides in order are apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, kale and collard greens.
- Aim to eat foods that are low glycemic, avoiding high glycemic foods. High glycemic foods are foods that turn into a sugar quickly in the blood and can in the long run decrease health by increasing the incidence of diabetes, insulin resistance, certain types of cancer and increase fat deposition. The more body fat, the more estrogen because fat cells can produce estrogen and inflammation as well. High glycemic foods are sugar, white rice, white bread, refined grain products found in cereals and wheat products.
- Avoid alcohol consumption because it is linked to an increase in hormonal cancers like breast and uterine cancer. Alcohol in the form of red wine, seems to be more beneficial for men’s heart health but not for women. That is because the detoxification of alcohol also travels into the liver and impairs its ability to metabolize and detoxify negative and excessive hormones in our body. This is why women who drink more often than others, tend to suffer with more breast cancer than those who do not.
- Green leafy vegetables contain iron and vitamin K which promotes blood clotting. Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that help the liver to detoxify. Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens and Brussel sprouts, are best cooked because when they are raw they contain goitrogens that can negatively influence thyroid function.
- Increase the intake of fiber and eat more vegetarian meals. Fiber binds excess estrogen and brings it out of the body. Daily intake of fiber should be at least 25 to 35 grams per day. Work up to this amount slowly to allow the body to adjust or excessive gas will be the result.
- Moderate exercise is best. Those women who over exercise, tend to have heavy flow and/or bleeding during exertion. In traditional Chinese medicine over exercise is said to deplete the kidney and liver yin. This yin weakness is linked to not replenishing the depleted blood supply, exhausting the yin further and the perosn. It is best to exercise 45 to 60 minutes per day.
- Manage stress levels naturally with moderate exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi, counselling or changing negative situations. High cortisol from stress can blunt other hormones from working well in the body, affect sleep negatively and increase weight gain expecially around the midsection.
Homeopathic mother tinctures are made from herbs and prepared according to the homeopathic pharmacopea’s instructions. They are not diluted and potentized like other homeopathics that have numbers and letters after their name like X, D, K or CH. Some tried and true mother tinctures for heavy menses are as follows:
- Aletris Farinosa is a tincture made from the herb stargrass. It is useful in women who have profuse menstrual flow, labor like cramps with a feeling of a heavy uterus. Women who need this remedy are flat out exhausted from being anemic and may also suffer with yeast infections.
- Thlapsi bursa pastoris is a tincture made from shepherd’s purse. It is an excellent remedy for hemorrhaging from uterine fibroids, with clots and cramps. The blood may be dark, staining. Women who need this remedy suffer from extreme pain and uterine colic.
- Rubus Ideus is usually made into a gemmotherapy remedy, not a mother tincture. That means it is a 1DH potency in a glycerine macerate base. This remedy is made from red raspberry and is useful for painful, heavy menses, vaginitis. It is a drainage remedy for the liver and the pelvic organs.
- Vitex, Agnus Castus is a remedy made from the herb chasteberry. Chasteberry increases one’s production of progesterone and may reduce bleeding.
- Apium Graveolens is a tincture made from celery. It is useful for menstrual disorders with headaches, sharp or aching pains and heavy flow. They suffer with pains in the left ovary that cause the patient to double over. These types may have tender nipples around their monthly flow as well.
- Millefolium is a tincture made from the common weed, yarrow. It is a great remedy for profuse bleeding and bright red blood. It can be indicated when bleeding occurs from heavy lifting or exertion.
Homeopathic remedies are suited to the symptoms of the patient, so two people with menorrhagia would get different remedies depending on their unique set of symptoms. The beauty of homeopathy as opposed to drugs, supplements, herbs or even mother tinctures is that a potency over 6CH has no side effects. Homeopathic remedies are an energy blueprint of an original substance and are a nanoparticle medicine. Homeopathy matches the symptoms of the patient to the homeopathic remedy and in turn this stimulates one’s own healing mechanism to recognize abnormal symptoms and correct them gently and swiftly. If someone mistakenly takes the wrong remedy, it is simply does nothing because the symptoms don’t match and the person’s healing mechanism doesn’t respond to energies that don’t match. Consider it similar to a key that fits into an ignition to activate healing. Typically a remedy will be administered in a 6, 30 or 200CH potency. Health food stores carry 30CH potencies but a professional homeopath may recommend a different potency based on your specific needs.
Keep in mind there are at least 279 homeopathic remedies listed under menorrhagia, so symptom matching is the key. Sometimes a homeopath like myself thinks about how much easier it would be to be a gynecologist and opt for birth control, ablation or hysterectomy, only three choices! Here are a few examples of homeopathic that suit heavy menses. For example:
- Calcarea Carb is useful for types that have heavy flow that starts too early, profusely and lasts too long. They tend to clotting of all types. They may suffer from fibroids and or hypothyroidism. These types may tend to gain weight easily, have cold and clammy hands or feet. Perspire on the scalp during sleep. They feel worse from exertion, mental or physical, cold environments, wet weather and at the full moon. They feel better lying on the painful side and in dry warm climates.
- Lachesis types tend to have excessive flow during menopause. They suffer from hot flushes, feel worse in the sun, morning and having anything touching or around their neck. They can be feisty, irritable and talkative types.
- Phosphorus types may be blonde, blue eyed and freckled people, but this is not necessary. They tend to be full of anxieties, are sympathetic and friendly people. They have a hemorrhage between their menses. They may not have profuse flow but it lasts too long. They may have uterine polyps and feel weepy before their periods. They are worse from touch, exertion both mental and physical, change of weather, lying on the painful side or during a thunderstorm. They are better lying on the right, in dark, cold food, open air and sleeping.
- Sabina types have a mix of clots with fluid blood. They may have a tendency to miscarriages in their third month. Uterine pains may extend to the thighs. They have flow between their menses and may have or have had moles in the uterus.
- Thyroidinum is a remedy that helps to support types that tend to have hypothyroidism. They may have cold dry skin, tend to water retention, heavy menses and aches and pains.
In an ideal world everyone would have access to a professional homeopath for remedies suited to their special and unique case. Hahnemann the father of homeopathy, said that individualized medicines are best for treatment. Homeopaths see disease not as an entity onto itself, but an expression of the person’s inner dynamics and treat a person as a whole. Thus two people would have remedies tailor suited to their individualized needs. Homeopathic medicine continues to amaze me over the almost two decades that I have been a homeopath.
Heather Caruso is a holistic nutritionist and a registered homeopath for the past 20 years in Guelph Ontario. If you would like more information about homeopathy and how she can support you naturally go to http://www.carusohomeopathy.com/appointment-booking and book a free get acquainted chat today.