Doctor's Note

This may be one of my favorite videos of all time. Why? Because it offers cheap, simple, safe, side effect free solutions for a condition that causes the suffering of millions. It just kills me that we didn’t learn about these kinds of things in medical school. But there’s no physician outreach or ad budget for something you can buy anywhere for 6 cents a month. So, where are you supposed to hear about things like this? NutritionFacts.org—that’s where!

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  • Joe Caner

    Was Christine English also fond of Twinkies?

  • Go with the flo

    I used to suffer from extreme dysmenorrhea. I reached a dose of 800 mg of ibuprofen with little symptom relief. After 3 months on a plant based diet I’m now pain free! It’s almost one year and the pain free periods continue. Nothing short of a miracle! I went to some very expensive doctors to find solution and they all suggested the pill which I never took. It’s a disgrace that doctors don’t know about this.

    • Bret

      Same thing happened to me. I was ready to get a partial hysterectomy because I was told that’s all that’s left to try! I started a plant based diet with no fats or dairy too and it was a miraculous change!

    • lilyroza

      My periods were very heavy and when I went vegetarian, near-vegan, it cut my flow by about half. It was lighter and lasted about 3 days. I was surprised and very happy about it. It stayed that managable always.

  • Lyn

    Should the ginger be taken neat or can one mix it into smoothies?

    • Nick Presidente

      As an experiment about 8 weeks ago I started adding ginger to recipes, trying to get some ginger every day. This was started because of Dr. Greger’s ginger-migraine videos, a WFPB diet was not helping with them. In the 8 weeks I’ve only had one migraine, which was mild in comparison to the average, this is fresh ginger cooked (mostly) and while 8 weeks is too short to tell for sure, things look promising.

      • Rebecca Cody

        That’s great, Nick! My husband has migraines, but he doesn’t like ginger. I know it does come in supplements, so maybe he should try that.

        Here’s how I get a good dose of ginger daily: Every morning while the tea kettle is coming to a boil I mince a tablespoon or two of ginger root and put it into a 1 quart thermal carafe along with 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric and a bit of black pepper. I’m sometimes able to buy fresh turmeric, so I use that instead. Then I add a bit of stevia, one green tea bag and one Earl Grey tea bag. The hot water goes into this and I make sure to drink it all before the day is over. It’s delicious.

        • marisar

          in my house, we put slices of ginger directly into the tea kettle. sometimes cinnamon sticks, too.

  • Lou

    im so glad of this article and vid. i watch read all dr mgregors but this is really relevent to me at the mo, up and down horrific periods following birth of my 2nd child. I had both my babies at home, no drugs easy peasy. my periods after my babies have been so so bad i couldn’t sit down for 48 hours. far worse than labour. we are a vegan family and prefer a natural approach. we have a fantastic range of low cost spice shops near us in the uk. Thank you so much for this article. a lot of people wont talk about their “monthlys”. but we need to talk about them so we can identify what is normal and abnormal. the embarrassment of heavy period and leak is pretty bad, im very chilled liberal in my own house but a leak in public is awful. ive been there many a time. thanks again and keep these coming :)

    • Rebecca Cody

      Lou, are you getting enough magnesium? Green veggies, of course. That always worked for me.

      • Lou

        funny you you should say that as wqeve been on a mission to eat a magnesium rich diet recently due to hormonal migraines and a while back ( a few months ago) a very twitchy right leg at night. :)

        • Rebecca Cody

          I do think all those things respond to magnesium. I also think that sometimes a period of supplementation can be helpful to kind of saturate your body with the nutrients you need, but that is an individual decision. It seems to me that pregnancy can really deplete you of nutrients if you don’t have enough.

          I used to have eye twitches and magnesium would stop them right away.

    • rumicat

      I’ve had the same problem. I’m not vegan, but pretty close. The diet has helped with weight maintenance, sinusitis, heartburn, and cholesterol. The one problem I’ve had with this diet is low ferritin levels, which are probably due to diet and the heavy periods. The low ferritin has likely caused me to have issues with sleep, I wake up feeling like my whole body is vibrating (worse in my legs) and can’t get back to sleep. Been taking iron pills twice a day with vitamin C for two months and the heavy cycles and the sleep issues have much improved. Need to get my ferritin retested to see when to cut back on the supplements, but it has really helped. You might think about asking for a ferritin test, I find that doctors don’t know that this can cause restless leg and other problems prior to people developing anemia.

  • Thea

    Ah yes, the PMS murder defense. Dr. Greger, you are saving lives in ways people can’t even imagine!

  • tina stamatakis

    Great information here! Thank you once more dr. G! One question…Would fresh ginger work?

  • Charzie

    Wow, wish I had known about this many moons ago! Dr G you were born too late! Gonna pass it on though, thanks! I was wondering, if fennel works like ibuprofen, what else it could help? Guess I’ll experiment!

    • Rebecca Cody

      My cousins, who both spent quite a bit of time in India, say people chew it after a meal to help digestion. I’ve seen it in a small dish by the cash register in Indian restaurants.

  • Foodie Alchemist

    I watched this during my lunch break (lentils, greens and broccoli sprinkled with mustard powder ala Dr. Gregor- thank you!). I love your way of delivering much-needed and accessible information to address a problem that is affecting millions of us. Understand that we could have done without the anecdote at the end, given this is not statistically representative of women all over the world who are dealing with their menstral cycles in more pro-social ways. Thanks for all you are doing!

    • ella_umbrella

      ‘A study has revealed that a kind of face a woman finds attractive can differ depending where she is in her menstrual cycle. For example: when she is ovulating she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating she tends to be attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear stuck in his chest while he is on fire. No further studies are expected on the matter.’

  • Alicia Griffin

    Is there any recommendation about the amount of fennel seeds to take?
    I have heamochromatosis so a slightly heavier period would be an advantage. I have yet to require a venesection but my iron levels are slowly climbing so I would not want to take ginger and reduce my blood loss, and therefore iron loss, during my periods. And of course I would like to prefer to deal with period pain without relying of drugs.

  • Julie

    Just in case this can help someone out there, here’s what works for me (in addition to a WFPB diet and exercise):

    1) To eliminate PMS:
    Avoid caffeine, chocolate and wheat

    2) To eliminate cramps:
    Keep omega 6 fatty acid intake low
    Take 500+ mg of omega 3 algae oil per day
    Avoid gluten

  • Carolyn

    Would organic ginger tea or organic crystallized ginger be effective as well?

  • Very interesting revelation, or is it? I went onto an Ayurvedic website where I have ordered various products and found this: “Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is an excellent herb for supporting a healthy, comfortable digestive experience. It is especially useful for strengthening the digestive fire without aggravating pitta. The roasted seeds are commonly served post meal in Indian restaurants to support digestion and to freshen the breath. Fennel combines well with cumin and coriander and makes a great digestive tea. It also soothes the urinary tract and promotes healthy urination. Fennel supports healthy lactation in nursing mothers and is also used to promote menstrual comfort. A tonic for the nervous system, fennel calms the mind and increases clarity of consciousness.” How amazing that the Indians apparently stumbled upon this without the benefit of placebo-controlled trials.

    • guest

      It’s even more amazing when you consider the fact that Ayurveda has been around at least for 5000 years.

  • Pat

    In what form and what dosage do you recommend taking the fennel? How about fennel and ginger together?

  • Jean Hayes

    I would love to try the ginger. Did they use ginger powder and how did they consume it- plain or in tea or on their food? Thanks for this video!

    • Thea

      Jean Hayes: The references below this video would answer those questions. (Click the ‘sources cited’ button to the right of the video.) If you can’t get to the study details, someone may have answered the questions in the comments underneath the video.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/ginger-for-migraines/

      • Jean Hayes

        Thanks Thea! I found the article, just have to decide if I want to pay to view the full text article. My husband and I were both laid off within the last week. Weird and crazy coincidence.

        • Thea

          Yikes. I hope you both get jobs soon.
          .
          I’m not an expert nor have I seen the study. But may I suggest that you could probably guess at some safe levels and then play around with it. At least it wouldn’t hurt the pocket book to try, I’m thinking… :-) Good luck.

          • Jean Hayes

            Thanks!

        • Sunshine99

          Jean, I will send you the article.

          • Jean Hayes

            Thank you!

  • Kitsy Hahn

    “Ninety percent of women report having painful menstrual cramps at least some of the time.”

    Um, Dr. G? Maybe you should insert the words “who menstruate” after the word women. :-) Anyway, jumping ahead to the menopause years, I gotta say I pretty well sailed right through them with nary a hot flash. IMO it was because of my daily yoga exercises — including the shoulder stand, the plough, and etc.

  • Wade Patton

    Excuse me for interrupting ladies (hey but I did publicly share this video already), but I wonder if the fennel seed has any general health benefits for the rest of us? After learning how they are used in traditional Indian cuisine, I’ve begun chewing a 1/2t or so several times per week. Just because I can, I like the flavor, and it broadens the range of spices/plant foods I consume and such is generally quite healthful.

    • Tom Goff

      Well, I understand that they are also useful for improving the quality and flow of your breast milk.

      They are additionally a traditional breath freshener and apparently have some bronchial and eye health benefits. However, I don’t think there is a lot of research on fennel seeds. There appears to be more research on fennel extracts and the whole plant
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137549/
      http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=23
      http://health.in4mnation.com/fennel-seed-benefits-nutrition-value/

    • VegGuy

      Dr. Greger’s new DVD has more on fennel. “Fennel Seeds to Improve Athletic Performance”.

    • Barbara

      The fennel seed contains several volatile oils that help with inflammation, kill bacteria and microbes, and are also antispasmodic (GREAT to fight IBS symptoms). They have been known to increase digestion and rid the body of gas and bloating. They’re also immune boosting and have been known to protect cells against damage. :)

  • Erica

    Does this work for other reasons you would take ibuprofen? Like teeth pain, headache, ect. Or just for cramps.

  • marisar

    i would also like to know how much fennel seed should be consumed…

    • Rebecca Cody

      Yum

  • Melissa

    How would you recommend taking the fennel seeds and ginger? Should women eat the seeds? Infuse and drink as an herbal infusion? What’s the recommended dosage and frequency?

  • vegank

    In my 20s I used to pass out the day before which was rough, but no cramps.
    I guess Fennel will not help with those who have irregular or a 21 day cycle? My relative suffers from it.

  • Eric

    What would/should be the “dosage” of whole fennel or fennel powder.

  • ella_umbrella

    Lately I’ve been drinking fennel tea for biliary colic… works better than Ibuprofen in my opinion!

  • aribadabar

    Another proven herbal relief for menstrual cramps – Angelica sinensis commonly known as dong quai or “female ginseng” .
    My wife swears by it.

  • Megan Denman

    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve had much less pain since going vegan, but I’ve been trying to find a reliable solution to the heaviness every month, without hormones. I will give this a try!

  • Michael

    Thank you. The video mentions fennel helps with baby colic. Any research you are aware on other ways to help with baby colic? Specifically, does meat-free diet for Mommy help baby’s colic or other issues?

    • Thea

      Michael: The breast milk of plant based mommies has been shown to have significantly lower amounts of contaminants such as PCBs, DDTs, and dioxins. They can be hard to find, but there are more videos on this website concerning breast milk. Good luck.

  • Maya

    What is the best way to consume fennel seeds? Never used them before in cooking so not sure .. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your question Maya!

      In the studies mentioned by Dr Greger, fennel seeds were taken through various forms: extract, capsules and oil. However, you can also eat the seeds itself or use it while cooking, something that traditional indian recipes incorporate a lot in curry dishes!

      Hope this answer helps!

  • Youcef

    Very interesting!
    There was a similar compilation a couple years back on The Sleuth Journal:
    http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/fennel-evidence-based-drug-alternative-menstrual-cramps/
    More or less the same set of articles.

  • Kimberly

    This is off topic but there isn’t a video that addresses this problem. Many omnivores that switch to a vegan diet (such as myself) experience a change in their menstrual cycle. Before switching my diet, my period operated like a Swiss train… always right on time. Now my cycle has shifted to a 40+ day cycle. Sometimes I don’t even get my period at all. I googled the issue and it is extremely common. Please address this issue.

    • Thea

      Kimberly: I am by no means an expert and feel that I don’t have enough information to really respond to you. But just in case this idea helps you: Ask yourself if you are getting enough calories? I know that it is common for women who switch to an all raw (plant) diet start to have problems with their menstrual cycle and the known cause is that their bodies are going into starvation mode because they are not getting enough calories. I have not heard of this as a common problem for just switching to a “normal” vegan diet (ie, both cooked and raw whole plant foods with plenty of whole grains and beans). But maybe you are eating so much roughage or something that you are not getting enough calories? This is just a wild guess. Obviously I can’t know. Another guess is that depending on your age, this may be time for your cycles to change and it has nothing to do with your diet…??? Again, I know nothing. If this concerns you, I hope you are able to figure it out.