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Perils of PMS: How to Alleviate Menstrual Cramps
Often associated with mood swings, junk food cravings and pop culture parodies, premenstrual syndrome varies widely among women. Occurring right before a woman’s menstrual cycle, PMS affects not only the lives of women who experience it, but it also affects their peers, coworkers, family and those in their immediate social circle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an estimated 3 out of 4 menstruating women experience some form of PMS, peaking in the early 20s and 30s. It can cause anything from mild discomfort to serious, debilitating pain. 
Because the effects of PMS are mental, physical and emotional, a variety of symptoms result. One of the most common and painful symptoms: menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea or period pains.
What Causes Menstrual Cramping?
There are two types of dysmenorrhea, primary and secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea are traditional menstrual cramps, without another underlying cause. Secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a disorder in the female reproductive system, like endometriosis or infection. It is important to distinguish between the two, as to highlight the appropriate symptoms and find the appropriate remedies.
The most common type of menstrual cramps, primary dysmenorrheal, Menstrual cramps are caused by the body’s preparation for pregnancy. Each menstrual cycle, the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) is discharged if the egg remains unfertilized. When the old uterine lining breaks down in preparation for next cycle’s new lining, prostaglandins are released. 
These chemicals cause the uterine lining to contract, which deprives the uterine tissue of oxygen and blood flow. As a result, the lining is now dead tissue and contractions force it through the cervix and out of the vagina. 
How Do You Treat Menstrual Cramping?
While the effects of PMS can seem overwhelming, there are many natural remedies that have proven very effective. Over-The-Counter (OTC) treatments are also available, but may not prove as satisfactory. It is important to combine personal history, knowledge of your body and previous successful menstrual cramp solutions with informed answers and herbal aids. 
Part of the menstrual cramp solution is helping to regulate the level of prostaglandins. PGE1 and PGE3 decrease inflammation resulting from cramps, and PGE2 increases the cramps themselves. Any treatment that either elevates PGE1 and PGE3 levels or lowers PGE2 levels will be most effective. 
Possible options include the PMS Herbal Formula (see how it works), magnesium, and regular exercise such as swimming and Yoga. Heat treatment is also an easy solution that tends to be more readily available in the average household. Take a heat pad, hot water bottle or a hot cloth and place it over the affected area. Do not put it directly on exposed skin, or leave it on for extended periods of time. If possible, taking a hot bath can be very soothing.
Warm castor oils also works by helping the lymphatic system eliminate internal toxins from cramping. Lie down with a castor oil pack on your stomach for at least an hour. Castor oil is especially beneficial because it works both as a preventative treatment and remedy. 

Whether it is castor oil or some alternative form of heat treatment, this solution is temporary. It provides some relief from PMS symptoms like menstrual cramps, and is best used in combination with other herbal remedies and physical activity.

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