Excessive menstrual bleeding, also called menorrhagia, is a common female complaint that can be avoided entirely by following a simple herbal treatment based on ginger capsules. However, the primary cause of functional menorrhagia (that is, one that is not caused by uterine fibroids or endometriosis) has to do with abnormalities in the biochemical processes of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).
An abnormality commonly found in women is an alteration in arachidonic acid metabolism. This fatty acid derived from meat and dairy sources is converted into hormone-like components called prostaglandins. The endometrium of women with menorrhagia concentrates arachidonic acid to a much higher level than average. The increased release of arachidonic acid during menstruation results in an increase in the production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which not only results in excessive bleeding but also menstrual pain.
Historically, the majority of symptoms for which ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used have been gastrointestinal, inflammatory, and associated with pain. Ginger is generally considered an excellent carminative (that is, a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and an intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes and calms the intestinal tract). Several double-blind studies have shown that ginger has positive results in various cases of gastrointestinal problems, especially those related to nausea and vomiting.
Regarding pain and inflammation, numerous clinical studies have supported this use with positive results for various forms of arthritis, chronic low-back pain, muscle pain, and painful periods.
Ginger has been shown to produce migraine-reducing results equal to those of the drug sumatriptan (Imitrex) but without the associated side-effects such as nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle weakness, heart attacks, and seizures.
Ginger has been shown to profoundly affect prostaglandin metabolism, including reducing PGE2, the prostaglandin involved in excessive menstrual bleeding, and menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea). This effect suggests a potential use of ginger to address excessive menstrual bleeding.
To evaluate the effects of ginger on excessive menstrual bleeding (HMB), 92 young women between the-ages of 15 and 18 participated in a double-blind study. These young women met the following criteria:
- They had regular menstrual cycles.
- They experienced clinically verified excessive monthly bleeding during the first three evaluation cycles before the intervention.
And they did not meet any of the following exclusion criteria:
- They did not have irregular menstrual cycles.
- They were not diagnosed with gynecological diseases such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc.
- They were not taking regular hormonal medications or NSAIDs (NSAIDs).
- They had no infection or pelvic inflammatory disease.
- They were not overweight/obese (BMI> 25) or underweight (BMI <18.5)
The women took either a 250 mg dry ginger capsule or placebo capsules three times a day starting the day before menstrual bleeding until the third day of the menstrual period (for four consecutive days). The women were subsequently followed for three additional consecutive menstrual cycles.
The results were determined by the evaluation of blood loss carried out by the women thanks to a Pictorial Blood Assessment with the following scoring system:
- Compresses 1 point for each lightly stained compress, 5 points for each moderately stained compress, and 20 points if the compress is completely stained with blood.
- Buffers: 1 point for each stained cushion, 5 points for each moderately stained cushion, and 20 points if the pillow is entirely bloodstained.
- Clots: 1 point for a small chunk, 5 points for a large lump.
During the three menstrual cycles before the treatment period, the mean score in both groups was 113. During the treatment period, the-level of menstrual blood loss decreased dramatically (by 46%) during the three intervention cycles with ginger, while after the placebo cycles, the reduction was only 2% (p <0.001).
The researchers concluded that “ginger can be considered as an effective therapeutic option for excessive menstrual bleeding.”
There are a couple of other essential considerations to keep in mind in menorrhagia. The first issue is iron deficiency. Many women with menorrhagia-will experience low iron levels with increased menstrual blood loss. Notably, low iron levels can also cause menorrhagia by creating a positive feedback loop. Therefore, in any woman with menorrhagia, it is essential to rule out low iron stores by having a blood test for serum ferritin (a protein that binds to iron and reflects total iron stores in the body.). Iron supplementation is indicated in women with serum ferritin less than 60 ng/ml.
Also, since menorrhagia is associated with the increased availability of arachidonic acid in the uterus lining, reducing your intake of animal products and growing your omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial oils makes sense. Greater consumption of fish, nuts, seeds, and a diet supplemented with fish oils can have beneficial effects by reducing tissue levels of arachidonic acid. A dosage of fish oils that provides 1000-3000 mg of EPA + DHA is recommended.