Natural pain killer??? Whhaaaaat??? You mean that I may not have to take tons of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or midol every month with my uterus decides it’s time to launch a coupe? That there is some magic pill made from plants that works just as well and doesn’t threaten the survival of my liver?
*cue epic music*
Yes. That is exactly what I mean.
My Success Story – No More Drugs!
Are you ready?
It’s called Turmeric.
Yes, that may be a spice you have in your cupboard right now! But it’s not that kind. It’s a pill form of this herb. I was super skeptical at first because I had read and tried so many random things that are supposed to help. Essential oils help a little with other symptoms but my pain level is way to high for them to make a huge difference in my cramping. I drink a raspberry tea to help with my hormones during my period… but it doesn’t fix the cramps.
(Sound familiar? Always so much hope when you try a natural remedy… and a fifty/fifty chance of being let down)
Okay back to story time.
I found out about turmeric because my grandfather was taking it to help with his arthritis pain… and it WORKED. I was still nervous that it wouldn’t work for me, but I decided to give it a go.
Now first, let me give you a background on the nature of my cramping. I get terrible, awful, writhing-on-the-floor-in-pain cramps in my upper legs, as well as my uterus/abdomen and lower back. They phase in and out of a 5 minute or so pain cycle and generally last for about 4 hours at a time, then I usually get a break for a few hours and then they start again. They are so bad that they wake me up at night if they start when I’m sleeping. If I feel them starting I have to take something right then because otherwise it won’t really have an effect. I can take 2 ibuprofen and nip it in the bud or I can wait an hour and just live through gut wrenching pain no matter how many of those things I seem to take.
So with that in mind, forgoing my ibuprofen when I knew it was gonna be a terrible round of cramps lasting atleast 4 hours, was quite the leap of faith. If this stuff didn’t work, I could kiss my evening goodbye. Not to mention that I was at my grandparents house, so it’s not like I can just sit there and cry.
Well, maybe I could… but it wouldn’t have been pretty. So my mom hands me these two little orange pills and with a “Here goes nothing!” gulp, I risk it all. (Well… for four hours.)
And guess what?
I proceeded to take home a few extra turmeric pills and try them for the remainder of my period. Each time that I felt like I needed to reach for my trusty old ibuprofen (generic Motrin/Advil) I held out and took 2 turmeric pills instead.
Now to give you a reference point, I usually take between 15-20 ibuprofen pills every single period. That period I only took 2. And honestly I don’t think I even needed those! I took them because my cramping cycle was starting late at night and I wanted to make sure I got sleep just in case this whole turmeric pain-killer worked for some unbeknownst reason just for a day or two and might quit. Can you tell I’m a little skeptical? Untrusting? Well guess what… This stuff legit worked for me. So for next period, (which is my most recent one prior to this post) I…. *drumroll*
…didn’t take a SINGLE over-the-counter pain killer. No Ibuprofen. No Acetaminophen. None.
So yeah. I am super excited guys. Like, so extremely excited it’s insane. No more monthly NSAIDs!!! (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) Okay so just in case you don’t understand why I’m excited to not be taking these drugs anymore let’s go over a couple quick reasons other than the simple, “Turmeric is way more natural.”
(P.S. … so excited.)
Why not take over-the-counter pain relievers?
The side effects! These drugs are surprisingly hard on your body. Take a look at some of the major side effects/permanent damage that can be caused by these. (Statistics are taken from Side-Effects-Site.com).
- Liver Toxicity – Tylenol is the #1 cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. with 27% of people dying.*
- Kidney Failure – 8 to 10% of all cases of End Stage Renal Disease in the U.S. (the kind that requires dialysis for life, are caused from Tylenol ingestion.*
- Leaky Gut Syndrome – 50-70% of Chronic Tylenol Users had increased intestinal permeability. This predisposes us to autoimmune disease.*
- Kidney Damage
- Gastrointestinal Bleeding
- Thins blood (prone to bleeding)
- Aspirin-induced Asthma
Again, not a doctor, just a researcher here guys.
A female researcher.
With a uterus.
That doesn’t have to worry about liver damage from the inevitable monthly drugs anymore!
Why does turmeric work?
So in case you’re the curious type and you want to know why turmeric actually works to relieve the cramping, here’s your (short) section.
The main purpose of all of the above listed drugs is to 1) relieve pain 2) reduce fevers. So far, I cannot find anything that says that turmeric is a fever reducer, so I am not recommending it for that purpose, but it definantly worked for the other.
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin. This is what acts as the pain killer. More specifically, an anti-inflammatory. This also means that if you have any inflammation-based pain that turmeric will probably help with it. Cramps are caused by uterine inflammation. A headache? Yep. Inflammation. Arthritis? Yep.
I know that’s not super sciency, but that’s the gist. If you guys are interested in the sciency type of answer leave me some comments or e-mails and I’ll do the research for you guys.
So, a couple tips. These are super important guys.
- Do not take this on an empty stomach. Tried that once early in the morning when my cramps where so bad they woke me up, and I spent the next 4 hours regurgitating my natural pain-killer. So it didn’t set in and work, leaving me with the cramping, PLUS I had to deal with a terribly upset stomache. Please eat a little something before taking if your tummy’s empty.
- Look for a turmeric that has Black Pepper Extract in it. This helps your body absorb it better. (Enhances it’s bioavailability.) For more on this check out: “Health Benefits of Black Pepper and Turmeric” by TurmericForHealth.com. From which this stat is taken:
“One study found that when even 2g of curcumin was ingested, its serum levels were very low. However, when 20mg piperine was added to curcumin the bioavailability increased by 2000%.” (FYI, curcumin is the good stuff in turmeric and piperine is the good stuff in black pepper.)
- Read the label! While I take only 2 of my 450mg turmeric pills at a time, the serving size on my bottle says it is 3 pills, to be taken either all at once or throughout the day simply as a supplement. It’s kinda like a vitamin guys. It might work best for you to take it as a treatment, where you take a couple pills when you feel the pain coming on, or as a supplement, where you take the recommended amount through out your day.
Possible Side Effects
Once again, not a doctor guys. Please note: Turmeric is an herbal supplement. You’ll probably be fine to take it just like other vitamins, herbal supplements, and medicinal teas. However, because everyone’s body is different, it may or may not be appropriate for you. Just like certain herbal teas are not recommended for pregnant women not because they are unhealthy or dangerous in and of themselves, but because they can induce labor. Just do some research yourself and ask your doctor to be sure. The most common side effect of turmeric is diarhea. I would assume that would happen if you took too much or have a sensitive stomache. Also, it would be especially prudent for you to ask a doctor if any of these conditions apply to you:
- You have hemophilia, as it may thin blood.
- You have gall stones, as it may cause gall bladder contractions.
- You have high blood pressure, as it has been known to lower blood pressure. Yeah, that’s a good thing, but if you’re already on meds for that they may double time it and make it too low.
- You have diabetes, as it may lower blood sugar. Which can be a good thing… but may suck for you. Ask yo’ Dr.!
For more information on side effects check out: “What are the most common turmeric side effects?” by WiseGeek.com
Other Health Benefits
So yeah, just a few more things I’ve read about this stuff:
- It is in an anti-oxidant and may help fight cancer
- Helps with digestion and can help reduce gas and bloating
- Lowers cholesterol
- Helps with skin conditions
- Improves asthma
- Can reduce progression of Alzheimer’s
- Aids in metabolism thus, weight loss
- Is a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, anti-septic, analgesic.
- Can strengthen ligaments, help with arthritis and slow the progression of MS
- Boosts immunity, can help with colds and flus
So yeah, pretty much great for everything. For me though, the selling point is that it is an effective anti-inflammatory, and works well enough that I can use it to replace ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen. That’s pretty effective. This ain’t no wimpy little home-remedy, pinterest-fail, old-wive’s tail. It works. It legit works.
(me as happy colonial Spongebob.)
If you are still interested in more info on turmeric’s other possible uses, doses, and side effects, I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend: “Dosage and Method: Turmeric” by the Epicurean Digest. They had some of the best most concise info I found during my research. Great resource, check it out especially if you’re still needing more of that technical sciency info.
I am so excited to have found this natural pain-killer guys! It has made my life so much less stressful, because now I don’t have to feel guilty about what’s going in my body when I need to get over some cramps or a headache and move on with my day. I hope that it helps you too!
Lots of love! (LOL)