ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
CAREGIVING
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming May Bring More Respiratory Woes
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
A Honey of a Sinusitis Treatment
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Polyunsaturated Fats Really May Lower Heart Risk
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Drink Away Dementia?
The Unmedicated Mind
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Add your Article

Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps



Like clockwork, Carrie spends three days a month doubled over in pain. Her discomfort is so unbearable she often misses a day or two of work.

Most women do not have such severe symptoms. But menstrual cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea) affect more than half of menstruating women. Those in their early twenties usually have the most pain. Along with cramps, other complaints may include headaches, nausea, diarrhea and back pain.

Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions of the uterus. The pain can occur in otherwise healthy women, or can stem from another problem, such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts or fibroids.

Experts believe that the activity of a specific type of prostaglandin (a hormone produced in the uterus) is a main cause of the pain. This hormone also causes increased contractions of the uterus. Prostaglandin levels tend to be much higher in women with severe menstrual pain.

What to do about it?
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and birth control pills are often prescribed for easing painful symptoms like Carrie's. But for women who want to get pregnant or would like to try a more natural approach, one or more of the following strategies may be helpful:

A healthy diet.It's not unusual to crave junk foods high in salt and sugar when you are menstruating. But this can make your symptoms worse. Eating light, frequent meals and reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol are often suggested to help ease side effects. And because excess sodium can cause fluid retention, it's a good idea to limit salt intake too.

Also, following a diet that is rich in whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can be helpful. These foods contain a host of important nutrients, including magnesium and thiamine, that some studies have shown may decrease painful symptoms.

* Magnesium:
o In several small trials, women taking magnesium had lower levels of prostaglandins in their menstrual blood. Magnesium supplements were more effective than a placebo for pain relief, and reduced the need for medication.
o Good food sources for this mineral are: whole grains, beans, nuts, cantaloupe, oranges, green leafy veggies, avocado, halibut and dairy products.
* Thiamine:
o In one large trial, thiamine was more effective at reducing pain than a placebo.
o Good food sources for thiamine are: whole grains, beans, nuts, cantaloupe, oranges, spinach and milk.
* Omega-3 fatty acids:
o To date, there is no solid research linking low intake of omega-3 fats and menstrual cramps. But, fatty fish and fish oil capsules contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These naturally suppress prostaglandins and are known anti-inflammatories.
o Most Americans do not get enough omega-3's to start with. While awaiting further studies, some researchers feel that adding them may be helpful.
o Experts advise eating low-mercury cold water fish (salmon, herring, sea bass, and trout) two to three times a week.
o As an alternate, you may take an omega-3 (fish oil) supplement that supplies both EPA and DHA. Check with your doctor about what dose may be right for you.

TENS. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a therapy that uses mild electronic impulses that may block pain signals. In a number of small trials, high-frequency (but not low-frequency) TENS was found to help in the treatment of menstrual cramps.

Other lifestyle factors. Many women have found pain relief through these alternative remedies:

* Placing a heating pad on the lower abdomen, just below the belly button
* Massaging the lower abdomen in circular motions with your fingertips
* Drinking warm beverages and taking warm baths
* Getting regular exercise
* Acupressure
* Taking meditation and/or yoga classes
* Bending knees when lying down (reduce the stretching of pelvic muscles)

If your pain is severe or lasts longer than two or three days, see your doctor. Also be sure to check with your gynecologist if the pain occurs outside of your normal menstrual cycle.