A Massage for Your PMS

… and other surprising down-there cures from around the world.

From Japan – SHIATSU

Good for Cramps

How it works Shiatsu, Japanese for “finger pressure’, is an acupressure massage aimed at stimulating the meridians (invisible lines on the body thought to carry energy). It may help fight menstrual pain: In one study, young women who received acupressure for cramps reported a 72 percent decrease in symptoms – as much relief as those who took ibuprofen. Massage has also been shown to reduce levels of substance P, a neurochemical associated with pain, according to other research.

Try this Do your own on-the-go massage to alleviate cramps, suggests a shiatsu therapist in Norwalk, Connecticut. Firmly squeeze the fleshy webbing between your index finger and thumb for a few minutes, once or twice a day. This is known as the Large Intestine Number 4 Point, which is traditionally used to ease menstrual cramps as well as other types of pain.

From India – YOGA

Good for Leaky bladder

How it works Certain postures help bolster a weak pelvic floor, which can come from having kids, gaining weight, yada yada, and is the typical reason for that pesky leakage when you sneeze or run. Yoga builds an awareness in your body so you can feel, and then sue, the muscles required to strengthen the pelvic floor.

Try this The Warrior 2 pose is great for strengthening your pelvic floor. Stand with feet about 4 feet apart; turn your right foot out to the right and left foot in 45 degrees. Inhale as you raise your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor at shoulder level. Exhale as you bend your right knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor (keep knee behind toes); look out over your right hand. You should feel an automatic lift upward in your pelvic region. Do Warrior 2 twice on each side – holding it between 10 seconds and a minute at a time – 3 to 5 times a week to build strength down there.

From China – ACUPUNCTURE

Good for Hot flashes

How it works This ancient healing practice (one of the oldest in the world) uses needles to target specific points on the body and manipulate qi, or energy. Research shows it can relieve many conditions – including menopause-induced hot flashes. In a 2011 study, menopausal women treated with acupuncture twice a week for 10 weeks reported significantly less severe hot flashes as a result (possibly because acupuncture boosts the production of endorphins, which may help stabilize body temperature).

Try this You can find a licensed acupuncturist via the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (nccaom.org). For an at-home Chinese-medicine fix, experts recommend avoiding spicy foods, which can magnify meno symptoms. Instead, eat foods that nourish the cooling yin force, like soups, artichokes, and avocados.

From Finland – SAUNA

Good for Hormonal insomnia

How it works Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle and menopause can mess with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Sauna – a time-tested Finnish heat therapy – eases the body toward better zzz’s. Alternating between a hot sauna and a cooler environment causes the blood vessels to dilate and constrict, which improves circulation and loosens right muscles – great for pre-bedtime relaxation.

Try this No sauna handy? A naturopathic doctor recommends dimming the lights and taking a warm bath with Epsom salts. Soak for half an hour, about 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime. Epsom salts contain magnesium, which can help relax the muscles. It works together with the warm water to soothe the body and mind and prepare you for restful sleep.

From France – AROMATHERAPY

Good for PMS mood swings

How it works Next time PMS leaves you grumpy and spacey, perk up with aromatherapy, the modern version of a 200-year-old practice developed by a French chemist. Experts think inhaling essential oils may affect the central nervous system as well as the endocrine system (i.e., hormone production). And there’s evidence it works: Smelling rosemary or lavender can boost mood and improve mental performance, says a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience. Experts suggest geranium to regulate mood swings, and sweet orange and lavender for stress relief.

Try this Combine 6 to 8 drops each of geranium, lavender, and sweet orange oils in a diffuser. Always use real essential oils, not synthetic ones: Look for “wild-crafted” on the label. Not into DIY? Try Ashi Therapy Women’s Balance blend for a ready-made way to sniff yourself calm.

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