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MENORRHAGIA (HEAVY MENSTRUAL BLEEDING)

Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

Menorrhagia is a term for excessive and often prolonged menstrual bleeding. It is also known as hypermenorrhea when bleeding stays for longer than seven days. It is often accompanied by other menstrual symptoms such as pain, cramps, muscle aches, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Heavy bleeding is often a symptom of perimenopause, when estrogen dominance resulting in irregular heavy bleeding. Emotional stress can make this worse.

Normal menstrual flow occurs every 21 to 35 days, lasts four to five days and results a total blood loss of 30 to 40 millilitres (about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Your period may be regular or irregular, light or heavy, painful or pain-free, long or short and still be considered normal. Women with menorrhagia lose about 100 millilitres of blood or more.

Although heavy menstrual bleeding is a common concern among premenopausal women, few women experience blood loss severe enough to be defined as menorrhagia.

 

CAUSES

Fibroids are the most common reason for excessive bleeding. Read about Fibroids and how to treat this condition >

– Hormonal imbalance. Usually oestrogen dominance and  lower progesterone levels .

Endometriosis >.

Aspirin and medications that thin the blood increasing the risk of bleeding. Even some herbs such as Dong Quai used in excessive amounts may contribute to excessive bleeding and should be avoided by women with heavy menstrual bleeding.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Low thyroid hormone levels have been related to menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding). However, the low thyroid condition often does not show up on lab tests. Factors like environmental pollutants, heavy metals, chemicals found in plastic containers which are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, can block the thyroid.

– Chronic vitamin B12 (watch video below) and folic acid deficiency.

–  Excessive consumption of saturated fats as they increase levels of oestradiol (strongest of the three types of body oestrogens) levels

  • Obesity (excessive quantities of Estradiol)
  • Rejection of femininity, guilt and fear are the emotions linked to the reproductive system and menstrual complaints according to Louise Hay in her book “You can heal your life”.
  • Reproductive inflammation
  • History of the oral contraceptive pill
  • Precancerous conditions
  • Liver stagnation in Chinese Medicine is a causative factor behind reproductive issues.  The liver governs the quality of blood and circulation to the reproductive organs and pelvic area.  Heavy blood loss, clots and dark blood is an indication of reduce liver function and toxicity.

TREATMENT

– Excellent way to deal with heavy menstrual bleeding is hot foot bath. Keeping your feet for about 30 minutes in hot water can be very helpful in boosting immunity and reducing congestion and pain from any area of the body including uterus. The very important benefit of water treatments such as hot foot bath is its ability to move blood from different parts of the body such as brain, chest, abdomen, etc. which is very helpful when the blood in brain and internal organs is congested, inflamed and often overloaded with toxins and impurities. It might be very beneficial in case of pain, sinusitis, headaches, cancer, arthritis, any inflammation or even fibromyalgia which is believed to be caused by too much blood in the brain which overstimulates the nervous system leading to increased sensitivity to pain. Hoot bath can be very beneficial in those conditions because high temperature of water dilates blood vessels in feet. As a result the congested blood moves from the upper parts of the body including chest, brain, internal organs and any part of the body to the lower parts bringing great relief. At the same time you need to wring out two clothes in ice water and put them on your forehead and neck, as it will constrict the blood vessels in the head, which also helps to ease the congestion. If you are a diabetic use thermometer or ask someone to check the temperature as diabetics have lower sensitivity to heat and may burn themselves.

Again, let me remind you that it is very important to drink plenty of water (possibly distilled or at least properly filtered) before and during this and any heating treatment, because heating raises body temperature and causes sweating, thus dehydrating the body. And, if you are a spiritual or believing person, don’t forget to pray before and after the treatment, asking the Great Physician to bless your efforts in sustaining the gift of health or cope with your health problems.

 

BEST HERBS FOR MENORRHAGIA

– Agnus castus (Vitex) usualy gives best results. In my article on PMS you will find details on Agnus castus (Vitex) which usually is very effective in coping with Menorrhagia. Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by helping normalize ovulation and progesterone levels. In one 2 year study, Vitex was used to treat 51 women with Menorrhagia and 64% of the women reported improvement starting within 2 months of treatment. No side effects were reported.

– Yarrow

– Agrimony

 

Maca
Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding both the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands (all involved in hormonal balance.) Maca helps to stimulate and nourish the pituitary gland, acting as a tonic for the hormone system. When the pituitary gland functions optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced, because the pituitary gland controls the hormone output of the other three glands. Maca is a wonderful super food to support overall hormonal balance by providing support and nourishment for the systems that control hormone release and production.

 

 

Yarrow (astringent, reduces bleeding)
Nettle leaf (astringent, prevents haemorrhaging)

Place a small handful of the mixture into a quart glass mason jar. Fill with just boiled water, cap tightly. Steep for 30-40 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day.

 

Ginger: Menorrhagia is believed to be due to an altered prostaglandin-2 ratio and ginger has been shown to inhibit the enzymes related to this altered ratio: prostaglandin synthetase and cyclooxygenase.

In the first study of its kind, ginger is found to be an effective treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding in young women.

Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) is one of the most common gynecological problems in women, accounting for approximately 15% of all primary care consultations or outpatient referrals to hospitals. It is treated conventionally with a combination of the following interventions: iron supplements, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives, oral progesterone and a progestin-containing hormonal IUD marketed as Mirena.  Most of these interventions have serious, if not also life-threatening side effects, which is why safe, natural evidence-based alternatives are sorely needed today.

Thankfully, research on botanical therapies is exploding today, and a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research shows that ginger may in fact offer an excellent natural solution for this all too common condition in women.

 

– Address Iron deficiency. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding are at high risk for developing iron deficiency and Anaemia. In order to prevent it try consuming foods rich in natural iron:

  • Chlorella or Spirulina (1-2 tablespoons or 10 tablets 30 min before breakfast with vegetable juice or smoothie)
  • blackstrap molasses
  • pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • beans
  • tofu
  • nettles
  • amaranth
  • Swiss Chard
  • dark leafy greens
  • quinoa

 

 

Ginger Reduces Pain and Inflammation

The truly remarkable thing about using ginger to alleviate heavy menstrual bleeding is that this food-grade herb has also been proven to reduce pain and inflammation – symptoms which often come along with a dysregulated menstrual cycle (i.e. dysmenorrhea). Ginger therefore may ‘free two birds with one hand’.

Truly, this is the beauty of botanical therapies: they often have as many side benefits as synthetic drugs have side effects. For example, take a look at the over 100 health benefits ginger has been proven to confer on our database: ginger health benefits.  This is not to say they are without potential adverse effects; however, when using ‘spices’ and foods as alternatives to drugs, the risk of such reactions are significantly reduced. And who could really be afraid of taking a little ginger?

For more natural solutions to pain and inflammation, please  see: 9 Natural Alternatives to Ibuprofen/NSAIDs Without the Side Effects.

 

  • Some fruits like pomegranate, grapes, Indian gooseberry, and banana are highly recommended to prevent and treat excessive bleeding as well as the chance of infliction of anemia. Consumption of sugar cane juice favors great to revive in this discomfort condition.

  • You need to drink adequate amount of water and spicy foods are to be prohibited for this period for better result.

     

  • Avoid aspirin – Because aspirin interferes with blood clotting, avoid it. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) often is more effective than aspirin in relieving menstrual discomforts.

  • Try and avoid working in hot places like kitchens.

  • You should also raise the head of your bed by a few inches on the side of the feet.

  • Apply a heat pack or hot water bottle to your lower abdomen or back to relieve cramps

 

SUPPLEMENTS

– Eat foods with vitamin K such as leafy vegetables and asparagus.

– Watch a video on how Vitamin B12 treatment can help with menorhagia (heavy periods):

– The types of fats consumed can be a key factor in determining proper balance between estrogen and progesterone.  Avoid bad saturated fats (animal foods) and hydrogenated vegetable oils (margarines, cakes, doughnuts, etc.) as they compete for uptake with healthy essential fatty acids (EFAs). will help reduce estrogen dominance.  Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone use cholesterol as their foundational building block.

Also dietary fibre reduces estrogen levels, probably by influencing the enzyme production by intestinal bacteria. This enzyme is beta-glucouronidase. Good examples are wheat bran, psyllium husks, pectins (skins and rinds of fruit and vegetables) and lignans such as flaxseeds. These lignans exert estrogen-like activities and are believed to protect against the proliferative effects of endogenous estrogens, and thus, may help reduce risk of breast cancer.

– Try to eat more cultured foods such as raw sauerkraut as probiotic bacteria has a positive effect on estrogen levels. Fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso and tamari will have similar effect.

Phytoestrogens or plant estrogens can prevent estrogens produced in the body from binding to their receptor sites via a mechanism called ‘competitive inhibition’. They are also capable of slowing down the conversion of androgens to estrogen that normally occurs in fatty tissue, and they can make estrogen relatively unavailable by increasing the levels of estrogen’s carrier protein, SHBG. When more estrogen is bound to SHBG, less is available to bind to estrogen receptors. Examples of foods that contain include phytoestrogens include soy (choose non-GMO fermented soy products), alfalfa, a large range of grains and seeds, fennel and fenugreek.

Eat from the cabbage family. Natural chemicals found in the cabbage family such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts can increase the rate at which the liver changes estrogen into water-soluble form for excretion. Additionally, kale, beets and beet greens also favorably support the lives detoxification pathways.  Indoles such as Di-indole methane (DIM) also competitively inhibit estrogen, and seem to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

Adequate protein intake is necessary to metabolize estrogen in the liver. Since many conditions are associated with excess protein intake, it is recommended that protein be taken in the form of grains, legumes, lean meat, fish, organic chicken and eggs, and that it constitutes not more than 60g of pure protein daily.

Support liver detoxification by avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Foods rich in sulphur such as garlic, onion, leek and cabbage aid liver detoxification. Foods high in methionine assist with the methylation of estrogen, the chemical reaction the liver uses to break down estrogen (estradiol) into a less potent form (estriol). Beans, legumes, onions and garlic are high in methionine.

These are just a few key points on how to help balance hormones with diet.

 

 

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

Farzaneh Kashefi, Marjan Khajehei, Mohammad Alavinia, Ebrahim Golmakani, Javad Asili.  Effect of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) on Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: A Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Clinical Trial.  Phytother Res.  2014 Oct 8. Epub 2014 Oct 8.  PMID:  25298352