Turmeric & Curcumin
Turmeric is another member of the ginger family that has long been considered to have medicinal qualities. You might recognise turmeric as the cooking spice that is bright yellow in colour, this is due to its main ingredient, the micronutrient curcumin. Curcumin has active ingredients that function as anti-inflammatories and natural pain relievers. Like many of the other foods we have discussed, research shows that curcumin inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which can cause the cramping associated with your period.
Turmeric can come in root form, looking similar to ginger and can be used in cooking or steeped in hot water and drunk. However, ingesting turmeric by itself doesn’t offer all the associated health benefits because curcumin has poor bioavailability, which means that the body doesn’t absorb it very well. As a result, curcumin supplements have been developed and often contain other ingredients which help us absorb all the benefits. For example, piperine is the major active component of black pepper and, when combined in a supplement with curcumin, increases its bioavailability by 2000%. So, if you are interested in using curcumin to relieve your period pain, a combined supplement is probably the best way to go. Effective doses of curcumin have been found at 200mg to 1000mg. Like ginger, you don’t need to take curcumin every day to benefit, it relieves period pain when taken 3-7 days before your period and continued 3 days after you start bleeding. As with all supplements, the strength and dosage of different brands varies widely, so always read the label and compare a few before buying.
Recommended dosage for relieving period pain:
Curcumin capsules equivalent to 200mg to 1000mg per day, starting 3-7 days before your period and continuing for the first three days of your cycle. There are currently no clinical guidelines for the dosage of turmeric added to your diet in its whole form however it is probably wise to treat it in a similar way to ginger and keep your consumption under 5000mgs per day.
Curcumin is generally very safe to consume when taken at the recommended dosage. However, in some people it can cause mild side effects such as heartburn, and an upset tummy. In very high doses it can cause headache and skin rashes. However, like all supplements, you should talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you are taking other medications or have other health conditions. Also, because piperine increases the way we digest things, it’s really important to take that into consideration if you are using other medications.