One Dedicated Doctor Mom + One Creative Harvard Grad + One Delicious Cup of Tea = No More Period Cramps
Menstruation has always been a sensitive topic, maybe even more so in the Asian culture that I was brought up in.
It’s something that has always been hushed around the men, and even when only women are present, you have to speak about it in low voices. Adding to that is the issue (or gift) that my mom is a tough woman who never flinches in the face of pain, and she expected nothing less from me.
No wonder then, that when the first drop of blood flowed from down under and the sharp pain clawed at my insides, I pretended like everything was fine with the world.
But as with any and all secrets, there comes a point where it all pours out. My period cramps became so bad at school one day that I couldn’t stand up, much less walk. I was brought to the nurse’s office and just lay there holding a heat pad like a sick puppy until my mom could get off work.
“Silly girl, you never told me you had period cramps,” she said in the comforting voice that only a mother could have, “let me make you some tea.”
Before immigrating to the US, my mom was a talented doctor and head of the Radiology department in one of the top hospitals in China. But here, as a foreigner, she couldn't practice medicine without going through exams and residency all over again -- meaning, she gave up her career and dreams so that I could have a better education.
But although she couldn’t practice openly, at home she always took care of our entire family’s wellness. And with my coming of age, she opened the door for me to the magical land of Chinese Medicine.
Every time my period drew near, my mom would cut up some ginger, break apart a piece of black sugar, throw in some goji berries and jujubes, and brew the concoction for 1-2 hours on the stove.
It was like a heat pad for my insides, and paired with the actual heat pad on the outside, cramps ain’t got nothing on me.
The most amazing part of the tea, however, was not the relief I felt during my period, but the utter prevention of pain.
I drank according to my mom’s instructions, 1 cup a day for a week before my period started. And amazingly, when the bleeding began the pain did not.
Lovely as this was, it was simply not a wellness lifestyle that I could commit to after I left for college. Without a natural form of relief and with absolutely no time to take days off, I turned to popping painkillers.
Four years and roughly 300 pills later though, the painkillers really took a toll on me.
I felt like they were becoming less and less effective as time went on, and they only help to dull the pain after my cramps have already kicked in, so during every period I would still have about half a day of holding my stomach trying not to scream.
Nearing the end of college, my gynecologist put me on birth control pills to help with my period. This really pushed me over the edge as I started having issues with weight gain, uncontrollable mood swings, and sinking feeling resembling depression that followed me everywhere.
The mental burden of always making sure I had painkillers or birth control pills in my bag was even worse than the side effects.
I started seeing myself less and less as the tough, independent person I was raised to be but more than ever as someone who needs pills to make it through the day.
After college when I finally had more time on my hands, I went off the pills and was determined to find a way to fit my mom’s tea back into my lifestyle without spending hours by the stove.
After countless trials and errors, I found the answer in my home country: high quality dried ingredients that could be steeped in hot water like regular tea and worked just as effectively.
I was able to gather the same herbs in the same proportions just like how mom used to make it and package them into individual bags to take with me on-the-go.
This was a breakthrough moment for me, not just for the pain, but because I realized I could help so many people suffering from period cramps heal their bodies naturally.
Three international moves, two job resignations, and one Kickstarter later, I am now the proud founder of Dr. Yang’s Crampless Tea, hoping to help change periods for the better.
So here’s a hip-hip-hooray to you and your best period yet.