Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Omega 3 fatty acid can cure menstrual cramp
Leslie Ann Tripathy
Last updated on March 17 2011 at 22:00 hrs
According to latest studies consumption of omega 3 fatty acid can help menstrual pain become history.
Nisha Kartik an engineering student usually ends up missing one day of college every month when she finds it difficult to move following the painful chums (read monthly periods). Nisha often resorts to painkillers like flexon and crocin to numb the pain. But what bothers her is her dependency on pain-killers and their side-effects.
For many women, pain/cramps during the monthly periods is a major reason for stress. As the menstrual cramps affects many females from undertaking their regular routine. As many as half of menstruating women are affected by period pain, and of these, about 10% have severe pain, which greatly limits their activities for 1-2 days each month.
Also known as dysmenorrhoea, period pain is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary dysmenorrhoea is most likely to be caused by uterine cramps. The uterus is a muscle and like all muscles, it contracts and relaxes. Although most uterine contractions go unnoticed, strong ones can be painful. Uterine cramps are thought to be associated with the release of inflammatory prostaglandins, which are found in menstrual secretions and have a powerful effect on smooth muscle such as the uterus. Secondary dysmenorrhoea is menstrual pain caused by another condition such as fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts.
According to gynaecologist Dr. Nirmala Patnaik, “period pain is not a very normal sign as it indicates that something is wrong and it is important that the cause be investigated’’.
Menstrual pain may be of three types: burning inflammatory pain, muscle cramps, and sharp tugging pains from adhesions. There is compelling evidence that menstrual pain is caused by the action of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes upon the uterus. These inflammatory compounds are derived from the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid. What women usually been looking out for has been side-effect free cure for a smooth period.
Omega 3 fatty acid
In an interesting development women who took diet rich in omega 3 fatty acid, during their menstrual cycles had a lot of relief as compared to women who took placebos, during a test conducted by Researchers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who reasoned that interventions, which could decrease the level of the prostaglandins and leukotrienes, would be beneficial in reducing menstrual pain. It is known that fish oils (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) compete with arachidonic acid for the enzymes needed to produce prostaglandins and leukotrienes and that fish oils also suppress the conversion of linoleic acid (the main omega-6 fatty acid in the diet) to arachidonic acid. The researchers carried out a clinical trial involving 42 girls between the ages of 15 and 18 years. All the girls experienced significant menstrual pain during their periods. The extent of pain was evaluated using the Cox Menstrual Symptom Scale at entry to the study and after 2 months of daily supplementation with a placebo or 1080 mg of EPA + 720 mg of DHA. Essential fatty acids promote the production of the prostaglandins that help the uterus contract without causing cramping. The amount of painkiller (ibuprofen) tablets consumed during the menstrual periods dropped by more than 50% during the fish oil treatment as compared to the placebo treatment. The researchers conclude that fish oil supplementation has a beneficial effect on dysmenorrhea symptoms in adolescents.
Other Health benefits of Omega Acids
An adequate daily intake of fish oils, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is associated with a many health related benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improvement in rheumatoid arthritis, prevention of macular degeneration, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Finally, several studies have confirmed that fish oils, especially DHA, are essential for optimum development of an infant's brain and visual acuity.
However Gary Ginsberg and Brian Toal from the Connecticut Department of Public Health point out that many fish are now heavily contaminated with methylmercury, a highly toxic compound with profound deleterious effects on both the cardiovascular and nervous system.
The authors also discuss plant sources of EPA and DHA. These two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in fact do not occur in plants, but must be made in the body from alpha-linolenic acid which is present in flaxseed, canola, soybeans and walnuts. Only small amounts are converted to EPA and further conversion to DHA limited. Thus fish represent by far the best source, and the authors raise no objections to getting these fatty acids from fish oil capsules, which typically contain 20% DHA and 80% EPA with little or no mercury, and taking even 1-3 grams of fish oil, according to the authors, results in low intake of PCB and dioxins. Which is also good option for vegetarians, who can enrich themselves through the fish oil minus the mercury as well as have health benefits most importantly can say goodbye to the period pain.
Other natural remedies for painfree periods would be yoga, consumption of food rich in vitamin B like oats, nuts, beans, eggs or consumption of B complex.Even food rich in Vitamin E or Magnesiium and Calcium.
With the health benefits of the omega 3 fatty acid capsules in combatting the period pain, they are on their way to becoming every girl’s best friend.