Paavo Airola - Let's Live - August 1973Index

Menstrual Disorders: A Natural Approach

In our culture, the female menstrual period has been synonymous with pain, discomfort, and stress for both mind and body. The symptoms range from cramps, sore breasts, backache, and edema, to depression, tension, irritability, and faintness. But these menstrual disorders are not really natural or necessary. In some other, more "primitive" cultures, those of Central American Indians, Chinese, and Hunzakuts, women do not experience these side-effects of menstruation. 2 It has also been noted that improved environment and nutrition have a beneficial effect on all menstrual disorders. In this article, we will examine the causes, prevention, and biological and nutritional therapies for menstrual difficulties.

The Total Approach to Menstrual Problems

It has been scientifically and empirically shown that most menstrual difficulties are due to deficiency or improper metabolism of female hormones. Vitamins E, B6, C, PABA, and folic acid affect estrogen metabolism. Zinc, copper, and calcium metabolism play a role in some menstrual afflictions. Because of the bleeding, there is also a loss of iron. Thus, it is obvious that nutrition should play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of all menstrual disorders. Strangely, with the exception of iron, this simple fact of biochemistry is seemingly ignored by the medical establishment. All parts of the body are interrelated, and the general state of health of an individual determines the ability of the body to withstand stress of any kind, A specific weakness or disorder is only a manifestation of a general breakdown with special vulnerability in that area. This also applies to menstrual difficulties of all kinds, whether they are cramps, anemia, edema, or depression. Therefore, a general health-building lifestyle and diet must be pursued. The person who relies on a pill or single therapy to "correct" the condition, without a radical change in diet or lifestyle, can expect inevitable relapse. In Biological Medicine we do not treat symptoms, making them temporarily disappear - we try to determine the underlying causes, and, by removing them, we assist the body's own healing mechanism to correct the condition. Of course, specific biological and nutritional therapies aid this process, but we merely wish to emphasize the total approach to health in trying to correct any disorder.

Physical and Spiritual Perfection?

In my capacity as a nutritional "guru" for several ashrams of young people, members of some of the most popular spiritual movements in California, I had an exceptional opportunity to observe firsthand how severe menstrual problems and irregularities may result from extreme nutritional fads and the resultant nutritional and hormonal deficiencies. I have been consulted by many young women who, for example, had very irregular menstruation, and many who had no menstruation for as long as three or more years. One 26-year-old girl said she hadn't menstruated since the age of 16.

In most such cases, I have found that the women have been involved with heavy drug use, plus a variety of extreme dietary fads. Many of those who didn't menstruate at all had lived on a pure fruitarian diet for several years. When, after some time of eating nothing but fruits their menstruation stopped - and males on the same diet became impotent - they were told by their leaders (gurus or masters, whatever the case may be) that menstruation is a sign that the toxic body was trying to throw off poison from the system with the menstrual flow, and that now that their bodies were cleansed and purified there was no more need for menstruation - they had achieved the ultimate in physical and spiritual perfection. You have to know how much blind faith in and reliance on their "perfect masters" these young devotees have, to be able to understand how they can fall for such obviously ridiculous and unscientific reasoning. The truth of the matter is that according to both the scientific and Divine order of nature when the human body is weakened and its health potential severely lowered by some environmental factors - inadequate nutrition, disease, or severe emotional or physical stress - such a body will be deprived of its ability to reproduce. This natural law is aimed at preventing the individuals with inferior health from impregnating or conceiving and producing defective or imperfect offspring. This protects the species from physical degeneration. Ovulation ceases and menstruation is disrupted or stopped in females; in males, the spermatozoa and sex hormone production is impaired and they become impotent. I am sure everyone has observed either in their own lives or among those they know intimately, that when a person is severely ill and weak, normal sexual activity will be the first body function to be deranged. To me, this is one of the easiest Divine laws to understand: only healthy and vigorous individuals are given the privilege and ability to procreate.

Dietary Indiscretions

In most cases, when these sexually and physically devitalized young people stopped their dietary indiscretions and adhered to an Optimum Diet of vitalizing foods - with emphasis on grains, seeds, and nuts, milk and milk products, vegetable oils, brewer's yeast, lecithin, kelp, and other supplements - their reproductive disorders were quickly corrected. Girls began menstruating again and young men became virile. A pure fruitarian diet, with exclusion of all grains, seeds, and nuts, is perhaps the most perverted and unnatural diet that has ever been invented. I emphasize this because there are so many young, sincere, beautiful, and idealistically-oriented people who are attracted to such a diet, perhaps picturing it to be an esthetically pure "Garden-of-Eden" sort of diet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grains, nuts, and seeds are the true Staff of Life - the Divinely designed basis of man's diet ~ as given in Genesis 1:29: "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed (grains), which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of tree yielding seed (nuts and seeds); to you it shall be for meat." Grains, seeds, and nuts contain the germ of life, the potent reproductive power which affects the capacity and power of human beings - in addition to being the most nutritious of all health-building foods, storehouses of high-quality proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and natural energy- and vitality-giving carbohydrates. The healthiest and most virile peoples of the world - Hunzas, Abhkasians, Bulgarians, Vilcambambans, Yucatan Indians all use grains and seeds as the basis of their diet: In my travels around the world, nowhere have I seen people who eat only fruit. Even in the most Garden-of-Eden-like places, where a variety of wildly-growing fruit is available for picking, the natives cultivate stony hills with sweat and toil, to grow some form of seeds, such as corn, beans, millet, or rice, for their dietary staple. Their instinct tells them that without seeds optimum health and long life cannot be obtained.

Such an Optimum Diet, with an emphasis on grains, seeds, and nuts, and a variety of vegetables and fruits, is also recommended by the most respected of all independent nutrition research forums, The International Society for Research on Civilization Diseases and Environment. Of course, this Optimum Diet also excludes all devitalizing and refined foods such as white flour and sugar in all forms, canned and processed supermarket-quality foods, tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks, etc. Only natural, whole, and preferably organically-grown foods should be eaten to build-up the body as quickly as possible. The best grains, seeds, and nuts are: millet, buckwheat, rice, corn, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. The next most important food group is vegetables, eaten mostly raw. Fruits should be eaten primarily in the morning to assist the body's own cleansing process. Milk, particularly fresh, raw goat's milk, or soured milks such as yogurt and kefir, is also a health-building supplement to the Optimum Diet, which is described in detail in my book, Are You Confused? 3

High Powered Brewers Yeast

Brewers yeast is a miraculous food containing high-power nutrition, including 40-50% high-quality proteins, a large amount of natural B complex vitamins, zinc, selenium, and other trace minerals, and nucleic acids - all important in eliminating menstrual difficulties.

Cold-pressed vegetable oils are also essential for the health of the reproductive organs. They are, however difficult to obtain, despite what labels may claim. Olive and sesame oils are most likely to be pure and cold-pressed. Oils should never be used for cooking, baking, or frying - heated oils are carcinogenic. The best way to eat oils is in salad dressings.

Kelp is another dietary supplement of general value, but specifically for menstrual difficulties, since it is an excellent source of iodine and minerals.

Lecithin is important, but since both lecithin and brewer's yeast are high in phosphorus, adequate calcium should also be taken, whether in food form or in concentrated food supplements, such as calcium lactate, dolomite, or bone meal tablets. This is especially important because of the previously mentioned need for calcium during menstruation, which we will discuss in detail later.

Iron-rich foods should be emphasized to balance the loss through menstrual bleeding. Apricots, milk, eggs, liver, whole grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, grapes, raisins, beets, spinach, prunes, and bananas are rich in iron.

An adequate amount of high-quality protein also should be obtained. For many reasons discussed in my books, meat is not a recommended protein source, despite the promotion of that image by the meat industry. Buckwheat, milled, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, peanuts, and almonds are good sources of high quality proteins. Milk, natural cheeses, eggs, and fish are also excellent sources. Fertile eggs are particularly beneficial for healthy reproductive functions. Vegetables - especially green leafy vegetables, avocados, and potatoes - are also good sources of high-quality protein. Fresh wheat germ is an excellent protein food - but make sure it is really fresh.

If juices are used, they should be those which will aid the body in correcting menstrual problems. particularly anemia. Green juice (from a variety of green vegetables), red beet juice, and dark fruit juices such as grape, prune, cherry, and black currant, are recommended. Dilute all sweet fruit juices 50-50 with water.

The above Optimum Diet can and should be supplemented with a general multi-vitamin-mineral formula and the specific nutrients mentioned in this article for specific difficulties.

Hypoglycemia and Menstruation

One of the effects of profuse menstruation is simply due to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, which is aggravated during the menstrual period. If an individual suspects she has hypoglycemia, the diet should be modified to fit that for hypoglycemia, as outlined in my book How to Get Well and in the articles on hypoglycemia in the February and March 1976 Let's LIVE.

Anemia and Menstruation

Many of the common symptoms of menstruation is anemia due to loss of blood. The diet must be supplemented with vitamin B12 - up to 50 mcg., or even as high as 200 mcg. daily. under a doctor's supervision. The main consideration is, however, iron. Iron-rich foods. listed earlier, are best, as iron supplements are not always well absorbed. Chelated forms may be best. They are sold in health food stores. Dr. Louis Kervran of France advocates taking manganese, as this will supposedly be transmuted in the body into an easily assimilable form of iron. 4 Vitamin C helps to absorb iron from food sources, but dietary vitamin C is often destroyed by smoking. Smoking, by the way, also aggravates menstrual problems. For over 5,000 years the Chinese have successfully used the herb Dong Quai (related to ginseng and available at health stores) to counteract menstrual anemia. 5

Irregular and Abnormal Flow

Suppressed, obstructed, delayed, slow, irregular, and excessive bleeding are some of the common menstrual problems. Irregular or profuse bleeding can be caused by thyroid deficiency and corrected by a natural source of iodine, such as kelp. 6 Bioflavonoids also help correct menstrual irregularity. 7 Vitamins B12 (25-100 mcg. per day) and vitamin E (600 IU.) are also helpful in restoring the normal cycle. 5

In excessive menstruation, two specific herbs have been used by herbalists: ladies mantle and amaranth 1. In painful menstruation, wormwood and pennyroyal are specific herbs. In delayed or obstructed menstruation, desert tea (Ephedra Viridis), and black cohosh have been used successfully. Motherwort and blue cohosh have been used to promote menstrual flow. 8 10

Premenstrual Edema

Premenstrual edema, swelling, and soreness are experienced by many women. These symptoms are usually relieved by administration of vitamin B6 - 50 to 150 mg. a day - especially during the ten days preceding menstruation. 10 Excessive salt intake may aggravate the condition. Garlic, watermelon and watermelon seeds, kidney bean pod tea, cucumber juice, and bromelain (pineapple enzyme), as well as exercise, are all helpful in relieving edema, which is usually the cause of swelling and soreness.

Mental State and Menstrual Difficulties

The irritability, moodiness, melancholia, and depression which often accompany menstruation, are problems perhaps more serious than we realize or admit. Deficiency or improper metabolism of hormones is part of the cause of the mental changes. Mental stresses contribute to this common menstrual syndrome.

Vitamin E is well-known to be important both to the adequate production and to proper metabolism of the sex hormones. Due to refining of foods, vitamin E is usually not adequate in the average American diet. 11 The trace mineral selenium (found in foods such as brewer's yeast, wheat germ, sesame seeds, kelp, milk, most cereals and vegetables), has a "sparing" effect on vitamin E 12. However, synthetic estrogen, inorganic iron, and chlorine interfere with vitamin E's activity and absorption.

Herbs which aid hormone production and metabolism include sarsaparilla, elder, unicorn, and licorice. Licorice also combats low blood sugar. 13 which can cause all the psychological effects associated with menstruation and, as mentioned previously is common during the menstrual period.

Abnormal mineral metabolism is often associated with the menstrual period. Copper is often high, and zinc low, during menstruation. 14 Estrogen medication (or the birth control pill) raises the copper level and lowers zinc level in the blood. Zinc deficiency can lead to depression and psychosis, and elevated copper contributes to the "blues" of the period. Extra zinc supplementation would, thus, be important during the menstrual period. Nutrition in general has a very powerful effect on our mental state, and at a stressful time like menstruation this is particularly true. 15

Menstrual Irregularities and the Birth Control Pill

Upon going to the doctor, women, especially young girls, who experience menstrual irregularities - a very short or very long time between periods or "skipping" of periods for one or several months - are often put on birth control pills to "normalize" the menstrual cycle. The Pill usually accomplishes this almost miraculously. But this approach is a typical orthodox medical approach of treating and eliminating the symptoms without considering the underlying causes of the disorder. Obviously, something is radically wrong with the functions of the reproductive or sex organs, or even with the general health of the patient. The Pill will not correct the basic underlying cause. In addition, the patient is subjected to the danger of severe side-effects from the treatment. The contraceptive pill is known to cause many serious disorders such as phlebitis, varicose veins, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

Menstrual Pain and Cramps

Aches, cramps, and pains associated with menstruation (aside from edemic soreness) are usually due to calcium deficiency. 5 Since dietary calcium in the American diet is much higher than in the diets of other peoples, it would seem difficult to account for this. However, we also eat large quantities of meat which has 22 times more phosphorus than calcium - and as every nutrition student knows, these minerals should be in approximate balance. Thus, excessive meat consumption leads to calcium deficiency, which accounts for such calcium-deficiency disorders as periodontal disease, dental caries, and osteoporosis, which are so prevalent in this country. Perhaps this explains why lacto-vegetarians very seldom complain of menstrual pains and cramps.

Calcium absorption is also dependent on sufficient hydrochloric acid and proper levels of vitamin D and magnesium (approximately half the amount of magnesium as calcium is needed). If supplements or good dietary calcium sources (such as dairy products, carrot juice, watercress, sesame seeds, almonds, etc.) do not seem helpful, one could try Dr. Kervran's recommendation of vegetal silica, which, he says, can solve calcium deficiency indirectly, being transmuted into calcium and easily assimilated even by those with a calcium-absorption problem. 4

The homeopathic cell salt Mag. Phos. (available in health stores or homeopathic pharmacies) is one of the most effective cell salts for menstrual cramps and pain.

Bioflavonoids were found to be helpful in relieving menstrual pain in some women, according to a French clinical team. 7

Anything helpful in normalizing hormone production and metabolism, such as the vitamins and herbs mentioned previously, would help menstrual pain. Other herbs which are reported to be specifically helpful for relieving menstrual cramps and pain include black cohosh, pennyroyal, wormwood, life root, mugwort, parsley, ginger, black haw, and balm. 1 9 16

Finally, "sitz baths", or shallow hip-baths, are an old biological remedy for many disorders in the pelvic and hip region. The water should be as hot as can be comfortably borne and the duration of the bath should be 10 or 15 minutes, taken daily. This is not a regular bath, just a submersion of the hip and pelvic region. Juniper needles or chamomile flowers added to the water would be beneficial. 1


Nutrition plays a vital role in both the general condition of physical health (and thus the ability of the body to resist disease and stress) and the production and metabolism of sexual and other endocrine hormones, which have a major effect on the normalcy of the menstrual period. The difficulties experienced by many women during menstruation are not only caused by nutritional inadequacies and deficiencies, but can be alleviated by corrected nutritional habits and supplementation of specific vitamins, minerals, and herbs. An Optimum Diet with supplements as outlined in this article, plus the special biological therapies and a generally health-building lifestyle, including sufficient exercise, rest and relaxation, regular sex life, and an absence of undue mental and physical stresses, will help to banish these problems. Like many other of our more serious health problems, menstrual disorders are tied to our denatured way of life. Adhering to an Optimum Diet and to a more natural lifestyle will prevent the monthly period from being a monthly ordeal.


  1. Airola, Paavo, How to Get Well, Health Plus Publishers, P.O. Box 22001, Phoenix, Arizona, 1971.
  2. Hellman, Jay, Ph.D., Hunza: Fifteen Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Oldest Living People, Professional Press Publishing Association, Escondido, Calif., 1968.
  3. Airola, Paavo, Are You Confused?, Health Plus Publishers, Phoenix, Arizona, 1971.
  4. Kervran, Louis, Ph.D., Biological Transmutations, Swan House Publishing Co., Binghamton, N.Y., 1972.
  5. Clark, Linda, "Ginseng: Fact or Fancy?", Let's LIVE. Sept, 1971.
  6. Davis, Adelle, Let's Get Well, New American Library, Signet paperback, New York, 1972.
  7. "Bioflavonoids: Mother Nature's Answer to Female Problems", Prevention, October, 1974.
  8. Lucus, Richard, Common and Uncommon Uses of Herbs, Parker, West Nyack, N.Y. 1969.
  9. Kadans, Joseph, Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs, Parker, West Nyack, N.Y., 1970.
  10. Ellis, John M., The Doctor Who Looked at Hands, Vantage Press, N.Y., 1966.
  11. Airola, Paavo, Sex and Nutrition, Universal Publishing and Distributing Co., Award Paperback, N.Y. 1970.
  12. Passwater, Richard, Ph.D., "Vitamin E Deficiencies Are Combinations", Prevention, April, 1974.
  13. Griffin, LaDean, 'Is Any Sick Among You?', Bi-World Publishers, Provo, Utah, 1974.
  14. Fredericks, Carlton, "Hotline", Prevention, November, 1974.
  15. Cheraskin, E., M.D., and Ringsdorf, W., M.D.. Psychodietetics, Stein and Day, N.Y., 1974.
  16. Hutchens, Alma, Indian Herbology of North America, Marco, Ontario, 1974.