Will Royal Maca® help Menstrual Cramps and Breast Pain?
A great number of teenaged and early 20’s young women suffer such agony from menstrual cramps every month that participation in their school and work activities are disrupted. Other women suffer greatly from breast pain during the second half of their menstrual cycle. In both cases, they go to their gynecologist whose only answer is to put them on birth control pills. There are serious potential side effects to using this form of xeno-estrogens and many of these young women would prefer using an herbal remedy to support a healthy nearly pain-free menstrual cycle and promote their hormonal health.
What Causes Menstrual Cramps and Breast Pain?
Menstrual cramps are related to your body’s production of excessive pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances produced by the body that can be either anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory. They are necessary to various body functions including blood clotting, muscle contraction, blood vessel dilation and inflammation. (The body’s healthy inflammation response (Cox 1) is necessary for wound healing. Chronic inflammation due to chronic exposure to toxins and high stress results injures the structures and functioning of the body (Cox 2 type inflammation).
Just before menstruation, the body produces prostaglandins from arachidonic acid which flood the uterus. High levels of arachidonic acid are found in dairy products, meat, including chicken, and eggs and contribute to an excessively high arachidonic acid level in the body, leading to menstrual cramps. If your diet includes foods high in linoleic acid, such as sunflower and safflower oil, your body can convert this to GLA (gamma linoleic acid). Other oils which are expensive and are sold as supplements, such as borage oil and black currant seed oil, naturally contain GLA and doesn’t require your body to convert them. If your body has a high level of good fats (the ones that contain GLA or can be converted to GLA), it can make a sufficient quantity of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins to greatly reduce the level of painful menstrual cramps and breast pain. In one study, after six months of taking GLA supplements, there was a 97% response rate. Although there is still no study on the effect of maca root on women’s menstrual cramps and breast pain, anecdotally and clinically the reports are showing that taking two capsules (or 1/3 tsp.) of Royal Maca® on a daily basis reduces these symptoms very significantly within the first menstrual cycle if the capsules are started during menstruation or right after menstruation ends. Highly sensitive women will probably do better with one capsule daily. Royal Maca® Plus with DIM can be taken if preferred.
How does Royal Maca® work to reduce painful menstrual cramps and breast pain?
While there are no studies which can definitively answer this question, the testimonials about the positive effects of Royal Maca® for the monthly cycle continue to pour in to Whole World Botanicals. Many come from the mothers of these teenaged girls, as well as from the young women themselves. Health care practitioners who use Royal Maca® in their practice are thrilled to have a product so effective to offer to their patients. So why is it working? No one knows for sure but we have some tantalizing clues.
In one study increased levels of GLA, which helps the body produce higher levels of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins not only significantly reduced breast pain but also significantly increased the serotonin level (the happy hormone) produced by the brain in the women given this supplement.
Whole World Botanicals has performed a study which demonstrated that its Royal Maca® added to the diet significantly increased serotonin levels in animals. Other studies have linked an increase in the body’s serotonin level to a reduction of hot flashes, which is why some doctors are prescribing SSRI prescription antidepressant drugs for hot flashes, figuring that they are safer than the conjugated estrogen-progestin HRT which they had previously been prescribing.
So it has already been shown that by raising the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (through supplementation with GLA), breast pain can be reduced (in six months time) and serotonin levels increased. It has also been shown that Royal Maca® increases serotonin levels over a two week time period and anecdotally and clinically has been shown to reduce both breast pain and painful menstrual cramps. So there has been a correlation established between increasing serotonin levels and reducing painful breast pain and menstrual cramps both in the case of GLA and in the case of Royal Maca®. And there has also been a correlation established between a shift in hormonal balance with an increase in serotonin levels (through the use of antidepressants). So it is quite possible that this increase in serotonin level with the use of Royal Maca may be the reason why it is so helpful so quickly (within one menstrual cycle) for reducing menstrual cramps and breast pain. It would be interesting to study whether the use of maca root also increases the body’s production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.