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 A-Z of health issues

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Menstruation typically begins as a female reaches adolescent puberty usually between the ages of 13 to 15. After the body has released eggs from the ovaries (ovulated) each month, and if no pregnancy occurs, the uterus sheds it's thickened lining which was produced in case the fertilisation of an egg occurred. This is then expelled through the vagina.

When periods (menstruations) become regular, it is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that the body is working normally. The ovaries release oestrogen hormones to keep the body healthy and prepare for pregnancy each month.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens and typically last for 3 to 5 days.

Some females experience varying levels of discomfort (cramps) and premenstrual tension whilst others experience little more than a few days of inconvenience each month.

Sanitary pads are best used when a female has her first periods and at night always. Tampons should never be left inserted overnight as this can cause infections such as thrush.

Exterior personal hygiene is important during menstruation to avoid infections and odour but douches are not recommended as they can cause serious internal infection by upsetting the normal balance of natural cleansers the woman's body produces.

Intimate deodorants and talcum powders contain chemicals which can also irritate and cause infections and should be avoided.

There are a number of different menstrual disorders. Problems can range from heavy, painful periods to no period at all. There are many variations in menstrual patterns, but in general women should be concerned when periods come fewer than 21 days or more than 3 months apart or if they last more than 10 days. Such events may indicate ovulation problems or other medical conditions.

Mugwort can be used to help regulate the menstrual cycle and ease painful menstruation and during the onset of menopause.

Amenorrhoea (absence of menstruation)

There are two categories: primary amenorrhoea and secondary amenorrhoea. These terms refer to the time when menstruation stops:

Primary amenorrhoea occurs when a girl does not begin to menstruate by age 16. Girls who show no signs of sexual development (breast development and pubic hair) by age 13 should be evaluated by a doctor. Any girl who does not have her period by age 15 should be evaluated for primary amenorrhea.

Secondary amenorrhoea occurs when periods that were previously regular stop for at least three months.

Dysmenorrhoea (period pains and cramps)

Severe, frequent cramping during menstruation can cause pain in the lower abdomen but can spread to the lower back and thighs. Dysmenorrhoea is usually referred to as primary or secondary.

Primary dysmenorrhoea

Cramps occur from contractions in the uterus. These contractions are a normal part of the menstrual process. With primary dysmenorrhoea, cramping pain is directly related to and caused by menstruation. About half of menstruating women have primary dysmenorrhoea. It usually begins 2 - 3 years after a women begins to menstruate. The pain typically develops when the bleeding starts and continues for 32 - 48 hours. Cramps are generally most severe during heavy bleeding.

Secondary dysmenorrhoea

This is menstrual-related pain that accompanies another medical or physical condition, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Oligomenorrhoea (light or infrequent menstruation)

Menstrual cycles are infrequent, greater than 35 days apart. It is very common in early adolescence and does not usually indicate a medical problem.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Also known as premenstrual tension (PMT) is a set of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms that occur during the last week of the luteal phase (a week before menstruation) in most cycles. The symptoms do not usually start until at least day 13 in the cycle and resolve within 4 days after bleeding begins. Women may begin to have premenstrual syndrome symptoms at any time during their reproductive years. Once established, the symptoms tend to remain fairly constant until menopause, although they can vary from cycle to cycle.

Asparagus contains no sodium and may help with bloating which is often a symptom during premenstrual tension.

Heavy bleeding

During a normal menstrual cycle, the average woman loses about 1 ounce (30ml) of blood. Most women change their tampons or pads around 3 - 6 times per day. Menorrhagia is the medical term for significantly heavier bleeding. Menorrhagia can be caused by a number of factors.

Women often overestimate the amount of blood lost during their periods. Clot formation is fairly common during heavy bleeding and is not a cause for concern. However, women should consult their doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Soaking through at least one pad or tampon every 1 - 2 hours for several hours,

  • Heavy periods that regularly last 10 or more days.

  • Bleeding between periods or during pregnancy.

Spotting or light bleeding between periods is common in girls just starting menstruation and sometimes during ovulation in young adult women, but it is still a good idea to speak with a doctor.

Periwinkle can be used to alleviate heavy menstrual periods.


This refers to long (greater than 7 days) or excessive (more than 80 mL) bleeding that occurs at regular intervals.


This refers to bleeding which occurs at frequent but irregular intervals and with variable amounts.


This refers to prolonged episodes of bleeding that occur at irregular intervals.

Nutrients necessary to consume during heavy periods

During heavy periods natural organic foods rich in  iron, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin E should be consumed until two days after the period has stopped.

Highest sources of iron in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Black pepper, marjoram, parsley, spinach, thyme 224 mg

  • Spirulina 29 mg

  • Clams 28 mg

  • Bran 19 mg

  • Liver 18 mg

  • Squash and pumpkin seeds 15 mg

  • Caviar 12 mg

  • Hemp seeds 9.6 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 9 mg

  • Dried apricot 6.3 mg

  • Wheat 6.3 mg

  • Black strap molasses 4.7 mg

  • Prunes 3.5 mg

  • Artichokes 3.4 mg

  • Prawns 3.1 mg

  • Lean beef 2.9 mg

  • Turkey 2.3mg

  • Raisins 1.9 mg

  • Chicken 1.3 mg

  • Tuna 1.3 mg

Highest sources of vitamin B9 in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Yeast extract 3786 g

  • Brewer’s yeast 2340 g

  • Chicken livers 578 g

  • Basil 310 g

  • Wheat germ 281 g

  • Sunflower seeds 238 g

  • Soya beans 205 g

  • Shiitake mushrooms 163 g

  • Parsley 152 g

  • Peanuts 145 g

  • Chestnuts 110 g

  • Beetroot 109 g

  • Spearmint 105 g

  • Chlorella and spirulina 94 g

  • Fish roe 92 g

  • Hazelnuts 88 g

  • Walnuts 88 g

  • Flaxseeds 87 g

  • Mussels 76 g

  • Okra 60 g

NOTE: One μg is one microgram.

Highest sources of vitamin B12 in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Clams 98.9 μg

  • Liver 83.1 μg

  • Barley grass juice 80 μg

  • Nori seaweed 63.6 μg

  • Octopus 36 μg

  • Caviar/fish eggs 20.0 μg

  • Ashitaba powder 17.0 μg

  • Herring 13.7 μg

  • Tuna fish 10.9 μg

  • Crab 10.4 μg

  • Mackerel 8.7 μg

  • Lean grass fed beef 8.2 μg

  • Duck eggs, goose eggs, rabbit 6 μg

  • Crayfish, pork heart, rainbow trout 5 μg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 4.8 μg

  • Lobster 4 μg

  • Lamb, venison 3.7 μg

  • Swiss Cheese 3.3 μg

  • Salmon 3.2 μg

  • Whey powder 2.37 μg

  • Golden chanterelle mushrooms 2 μg

  • Tuna 1.9 μg

  • Halibut 1.2 μg

  • Chicken egg 1.1 μg

  • Chicken, turkey 1.0 μg

  • Ashitaba 0.4 μg

NOTE: One μg is one microgram.

Highest sources of vitamin C in micrograms per 100 grams

  • Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  • Camu camu berries 532 mg

  • Rosehips 426 mg

  • Green chillies 242.5 mg

  • Guavas 228.3 mg

  • Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  • Black currants 181 mg

  • Thyme 160.01 mg

  • Red chillies 143.7 mg

  • Drumstick pods 141 mg

  • Kale 120 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 118.6 mg

  • Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  • Broccoli 89 mg

  • Brussel sprouts 85 mg

  • Cloves, saffron 81 mg

  • Chilli pepper 76 mg

  • Mustard greens 70 mg

  • Cress 69 mg

  • Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  • Swede 62 mg

  • Basil 61 mg

  • Papaya 60 mg

  • Rosemary 61 mg

  • Strawberries 58 mg

  • Chives 58 mg

  • Oranges 53.2 mg

  • Lemons 53 mg

  • Pineapple 48 mg

  • Cauliflower 48 mg

  • Kumquats 43.9 mg

  • Watercress 43 mg

  • Wasabi root 41.9 mg

  • Kidney bean sprouts 38.7 mg

  • Melon 36.7 mg

  • Elderberries 36 mg

  • Coriander 27 mg

Highest sources of vitamin E in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Wheat germ 149.4 mg

  • Hemp seeds 55 mg

  • Hazelnut oil 47 mg

  • Almond oil 39 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 38.3 mg

  • Chilli powder 38.1 mg

  • Paprika 38 mg

  • Rice bran oil 32 mg

  • Grape seed oil 29 mg

  • Almonds 26.2 mg

  • Oregano 18.3 mg

  • Hazelnuts 17 mg

  • Flaxseed oil 17 mg

  • Peanut oil 16 mg

  • Hazelnuts 15.3 mg

  • Corn oil 15 mg

  • Olive oil 14 mg

  • Soya bean oil 12 mg

  • Pine nuts 9.3 mg

  • Cloves (ground) 9 mg

  • Peanuts 8 mg

  • Celery flakes (dried) 6 mg

  • Spirulina 5 mg

  • Dried apricots 4.3 mg

  • Bell peppers (red), eel, olives and salmon 4 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 3.6 mg

  • Anchovies 3.3 mg

  • Broccoli, chicken, chilli peppers (sun-dried), cod, crayfish, dandelion greens, egg yolk, duck, goose, pecan nuts, spinach, tomatoes (tinned or pureed) turkey and turnip greens 3 mg

  • Avocado, beef, bilberries, blue berries, butter, chicory greens, cinnamon (ground), crab, halibut, herring (pickled), mackerel, marjoram, mustard greens, pistachio nuts, poppy seeds, sardines, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, trout, tuna, turnips and walnuts 2 mg

  • Fish roe 1.9 mg

  • Asparagus, kiwi fruit and parsnips 1.5 mg

  • Black berries 1.2 mg

  • Chlorella 1.1 mg

Natural remedies for period pains

Cherries (sour) can provide instant relief from painful cramps.

Ginger: Consuming 250 mg of ginger root four times a day is as effective as the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen for relieving pain in women associated with their menstrual cycle.

Hemp seeds are a super food which has nigh nutritional content (rich in fatty acids, minerals and all essential amino acids) and has properties that can relieve symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps.

Mashua has been shown to induce menstruation by its beneficial effect on oestrogen.

Nutmeg and unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink salt crystals: take a 1/4 teaspoon of both nutmeg and unrefined sea salt in a large glass of bottled mineral water to provide instant relief from painful cramps.

Passion fruit contains components which have the ability to relax the nerves and relieve  menstrual disorders.

Sage: Painful menstrual periods and excessive milk flow during nursing have been kept at bay by sage in the past.

Soaking in a Epsom salts and tea tree oil warm bath is a good way to cleanse and relieve cramp pains as it stimulates the blood flow and relaxes the uterine contractions which cause painful cramps.

See also: Pain and Inflammation

Make your own natural talcum powder

For the last 30 years, scientists have closely scrutinised talc particles and found dangerous similarities to asbestos. Deodorants contain aluminium which is also known to be carcinogenic.

  • Measure 1/2 cup arrowroot and/or white clay into a bowl. (White clay is sometimes called kaolin clay or white cosmetic clay).

  • Sprinkle 8 Lavender oil drops over  the powder and mix well with a fork.

  • Sift together into a container then make small holes in the lid.

Natural relief for thrush

Thrush is a common infection caused by yeasts and can result in an itchy and sore vaginal area and a (sometimes odorous) yellow/green discharge. Thrush can be naturally rectified by using a tampon which has been dipped in plain live probiotic yoghurt and inserted for four hours, followed by a tea tree oil and sea salt bath. Repeat if necessary.

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"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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