Getting relief from PMS pain is challenging for many women. The research study linked below shows that over 84% of women experience menstrual PMS pain. And so it’s not surprising that the subject, although not often discussed, is an important one. Recently I wrote about the different cycles of body and mind that we experience on a regular basis (link at end of article).
Everything from circadian rhythms that control sleep and alertness every 24 hours, to circannual rhythms that occur over a year.
One of those rhythms is called an infradian rhythm. And this occurs less frequently than 24 hours. The most common of those is the menstrual cycle that most women experience every 28 days approximately.
For many women this is a very uncomfortable time resulting in pain and challenges maintaining positive emotions. And in some cases traditional medication or techniques simply do not work.
Using light to relieve pain
In most cases I wouldn’t write about something that has limited research surrounding it’s effectiveness. However, the below study is one that is backed up by the experience of users of light based brainwave entrainment. And the private messages I’ve received have been frequent enough to make me hopeful that this technology could help more women get relief from PMS pain. Because the results of this specific study match what I have witnessed over the past 8 years creating light and sound sessions for people. And not just relief from PMS pain. But also in some cases instant relief from other chronic pain that medication cannot match. I first came across the idea of using light to help with PMS pain 7 years ago. A message arrived from a woman who had silently suffered for years. And the message started with: “I just used your pain relief session and my PMS symptoms have gone down by 80% with just one session.” The message went on to say that nothing else had ever helped her.
Relief from PMS pain with photic brainwave entrainment study
Using photic (light) based brainwave entrainment 15-20 minutes a day in this experiment gave an average 76% reduction in symptoms across the board. And 70% of those participants had such a reduction that they were considered to no longer have PMS at all. Significant positive improvements (having read the full original research article) were found in depression, anxiety, irritability, concentration, fatigue, food cravings, bloating and breast pain.
And these results are better than the current medication prescribed for such symptoms and better than any placebo effect.
Pain relief with Theta and Alpha frequencies
Participants were free to choose the frequency that felt most comfortable and most chose one between 5Hz (Theta) and 10Hz (Alpha).
EEG tests of brainwave activity during a menstrual cycle shows that there is an excess of slow wave Delta activity (under 4Hz) and a reduction in Beta activity (over 12Hz).
This is similar to known slow wave disorders such as ADHD where photic treatment has also been used successfully. And research in other area’s also shows that entrainment within the Theta, Alpha and SMR (12-15Hz) frequencies can help correct this imbalance. Which one of those ranges is best depends on factors specific to individuals.
Benefits of brainwave entrainment
Two potential reasons are discussed in this paper for the relief from PMS pain experienced.
The frequency itself.., and the increase in cerebral (brain) blood flow known to take place with photic stimulation. I would add to that some of the other benefits of audio visual brainwave entrainment. Those being deep relaxation and better sleep, interhemispheric synchronisation (both sides of the brain), and the ability of entrainment to facilitate a type of neural reset. And by reset I mean a return to a choice point to have new thoughts and therefore new actions and habits.
Pain relief and healing from sunlight
Light is an incredibly powerful healer. And no source of light is more powerful and essential to our health and wellbeing than sunlight. Florence nightingale knew this when she starting putting sick and wounded people outside in the sun. She noticed that wounds would heal quicker and health would return to a higher percentage of the people she was responsible for. And sunlight in particular also helps us produce a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is often referred to as a feel good hormone responsible for mood and alertness. And serotonin also converts to Melatonin (sleep hormone) in the evening, helping us sleep. Especially if the sun exposure is in the morning. And this balancing of two of our most important hormones can have a significant positive effect of pain.
Light therapy and relief from pain
Studies with light therapy (typically used for seasonal depression) have also shown promise for relief from PMS pain and symptoms. Although this is targeted at helping emotionally, emotional control and pain control often go hand in hand. An example of this is the use of a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) lamp. Although if you can get outside in the sun, then that is ideal. And there is evidence to suggest that red light therapy may also be beneficial. The red end of the light spectrum can penetrate skin much deeper than other wavelengths of light. And is known to facilitate micro vessel blood flow, ATP production, and nitrous oxide production. ATP is fundamental to cellular energy. And increasing this can facilitate faster healing. Nitrous oxide (NO) causes vasodilation, which is a relaxation and expansion of blood vessels leading to increased blood flow. Therefore this combination can assist in energy regulation, healing, and decreased inflammation including relief from PMS symptoms and pain. Red light therapy has a lot of research around it’s use for various health benefits.
PMS pain and symptoms– The role of blood flow
One of the conclusions that is reasonable to come to from the research around pain and discomfort during a menstrual cycle, is that of decreased (mainly uterine) blood flow. And the above methods of relief seem to have increased blood flow as a common thread. So with that in mind, there are other natural ways to potentially help ease the discomfort of PMS pain. Examples being light exercise, breathing and warmth from a bath, hot water bottle, or infrared lamp. And in the article I wrote on body rhythms you’ll find the 4 stages of a monthly cycle and the best way to navigate them for ideal comfort. Each stage has its own recommended ways of promoting comfort. It goes without saying that if you are experiencing pain, then consult with your doctor. And I hope this article has given you a few extra ideas to try for increased comfort and wellbeing.