As a person with a chronic illness, I’m well accustomed to dealing with pain on a regular basis. While consulting a medical professional when you have an issue like severe pain is important, sometimes prescriptions don’t work. When it comes to the nerve pain caused by my relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, the prescribed pills I’ve been given have given me a multitude of side effects. The most popular treatment for it gave me a mid-sleep stomach-lurching sensation like I was riding a roller coaster. And when I woke up, I was slurring and felt so disconnected from my own body, I spent several minutes staring at my hand wondering if I should cut it off.
If like me, you have moderate to severe periods, then you’ve likely tried a plethora of painkillers and internet-recommended solutions to dull those stabs and aches. I find that a searing-hot water bottle is essential, but sometimes, over-the-counter pain relievers can’t touch the throb that radiates throughout my back, groin and legs.
That's why I choose gin. In moderation of course, as alcohol is almost never the guaranteed solution to any problem. But as a little research proves, gin contains several soothing elements that make sense of its painkilling properties.
According to the Gin Foundry, gin has long been used for its medicinal properties. According to the site, “From a remedial purpose—the earliest recorded medicinal use of juniper berries occurs in an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1500 BC, in a recipe to cure tapeworm infestations. The Romans too used the berries for purification and stomach ailments.”
While tapeworms are undoubtedly different beasts from chronic illnesses, it’s interesting that the core ingredient of gin, which gives it its unmistakable flavor, has often been used medicinally. The Gin Foundry confirms this is still the case, as apparently “it would seem that the juniper berry is still being considered as a possible treatment for diet-controlled diabetes, as it allegedly releases insulin from the pancreas (hence alleviating hunger).”
Writer Amy Roberts is an advocate of gin for period pain, and tells us, “For me, using gin for medicinal purposes during my period serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it chills me out during what is always the most stressful part of my month. But it also helps to soothe my period cramps too.”
As Roberts says, “Though it doesn’t get rid of the pain entirely, it does mute it and make it more manageable. Sometimes, I find it more effective than painkillers. A couple of gin and tonics and a hot water bottle, and I can usually survive whatever agonies my uterus has decided to bother me with that month.”
Similarly, gin works as an analgesic for me when dealing with both MS-induced nerve pain and severe period symptoms. Where aspirin sometimes doesn’t touch the nerve disturbances, which are often aggravated by menstruation, gin calms and numbs my body, stops my nerves from sending signals to itch, sting, stab or throb at my skin. During my period specifically, a well-timed gin and tonic feels as though it relaxes the cramping in my uterus and diminishes the back throbs and the obnoxious ache of my vaginal muscles.
According to How Stuff Works, “Because juniper is indicated for chronic conditions associated with debility and lack of tone in the tissues, it is most often used for treating older people or those with chronic diseases.” The indication is that gin loosens up joints and muscles, making people more mobile and easing body pain. The site also claims juniper berries have an “antiseptic effect and are often used in cases of chronic and repeated urinary tract infection.” It makes sense, then, that gin could also alleviate period pain and the cramps associated with severe menstruation.
While consulting your medical professional should always be the first step to dealing with chronic pain and problematic menstruation symptoms, deferring to remedies that work for your body is a helpful alternative. For me, a gin and tonic can settle my nerve disturbances and period cramps when nothing else can. Moderation is, of course, key, but finding something that works for the most difficult monthly symptoms is invaluable, which is why I swear by it. Basically, life is difficult enough without annoying and sometimes debilitating menstruation symptoms.
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