Dealing with period pain can be debilitating. Menstrual cramps happen when the muscles of your uterus contract. Those contractions are sparked by chemicals called prostaglandins, which are produced in the lining of the uterus. Your uterus is one big muscle, and those contractions happen to make the lining of the uterus shed, releasing prostaglandins and causing your period.
Many of my patients were on strong painkillers to help manage the pain they would experience every month, and while pain is an indicator that something is NOT right and you should seek medical attention, there are some tips I give my patients when I am treating them for this particular ailment – one of them is having an Epsom salt bath.
Epsom salts are in fact Magnesium sulphate. It is a muscle relaxant which can help to ease cramping. Magnesium deficiency increases both the contractility of smooth muscle and the level of prostaglandins, which are the inflammatory compounds that drive period pain. If you experience moderate to severe period pain, an Epsom Salt bath can only provide you with some relief. However it is always best to treat the CAUSE of the pain and not just the SYMPTOM. (NB! Do not ingest Epsom Salts as it will NOT have the same effect!) How to have an Epsom Salt bath: Add 1 cup of Epsom salts to a tub of warm water and soak (and de-stress!) for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a bath tub, use ½ a cup in a small bucket and immerse your feet up to your calf for the same amount of time. When Epsom salts are dissolved in water, it releases magnesium and sulfate ions which are absorbed through your skin. I like the @exalt_sa lavender and rosemary soothe and sleep salts or @dr_frickels_salts.
As a side note: as it may be uncomfortable to bathe while on your period, I recommend having Epsom salt baths the week before your period. This way your body will absorb adequate amounts of magnesium prior to your period to ease the cramping before it begins.