The ovaries, an integral part of a woman's reproductive system, are approximately the size of an almond and sit on either side of the uterus, adjacent to each Fallopian tube. They are composed of a collection of follicles, which have the important function of releasing a mature egg each month for possible fertilization. Each fluid-filled follicle contains its full complement of eggs at birth. Problems with your ovaries can develop, causing pain. If you are experiencing ovarian pain, consult your physician immediately to determine its cause. Once you have a diagnosis, ask your doctor about the use of herbs to help relieve pain.
Ovarian pain can feel like a dull ache, cramp or sharp pain in the lower part of your abdomen. The pain can develop slowly or all of a sudden, depending upon its cause. The pain can be intermittent or constant. Typically, ovarian pain is related to the formation of an ovarian cyst. The pain caused by an ovarian cyst, which is an enlarged follicle that has not ruptured, can feel like a dull ache radiating to your back or a debilitating sharp, stabbing pain that can bring you to your knees. Ovarian pain can also be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, a benign disorder and ovarian cancer. Any pain you have as a result of ovarian cancer should be handled by your doctor.
Wild yam, also called dioscorea, is an herb that possesses some analgesic effects. The book "Prescription for Herbal Healing" states that wild yam is particularly useful in relieving the cramping pain associated with ovarian cysts. It can be taken as a capsule, tincture or tea to relax smooth muscle and reduce painful inflammation. Be sure to read the label of any wild yam products carefully, as some contain synthetic progesterone, which does not have the same pain-relieving qualities as wild yam. Make sure any wild yam products you purchase are 100 percent herbal.
Dong quai is known scientifically as Angelica sinensis and has a long history of use as both a spice and herbal medicine. Its thick yellow-brown roots are collected for use in herbal preparations. Dong quai can be used to treat symptoms of pain in ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome, particularly the type of pain due to cramping. Dong quai is available as dried root, a powder and tincture, but consult your doctor for the proper dosage for you, as the University of Maryland Medical Center states no standard dose has yet been established.
Valeriana officinalis, or valerian, is a perennial herb found growing in parts of North America, Europe and Asia. The root of the herb is harvested for medicinal use. Although valerian is best known for its relaxing properties, being used for insomnia and anxiety, it also has pain-relieving properties. It appears to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, making it effective in alleviating pain from cramping. Because of its sedative effect, you should not take valerian when you are going to drive or operate machinery. AltMD warns it should not be taken for more than two to three weeks at a time due to tolerance.
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Dong Quai, Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD; December 2008
- AltMD: Valerian