At-Home Relief: The Best Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
It’s that time of month again, and all you want to do is scream into a pillow for 5 days. Discomfort during menstruation can range from mild to unbearable. This is due to the muscles in the uterus contracting and relaxing to shed the uterine lining.
There are a variety of factors that can influence how painful a period is, such as age, heavy blood flow, usage of birth control, endometriosis, having a child for the first time, or overproduction and oversensitivity to a hormone called prostaglandins. The good news is that there’s also a variety of easy ways to combat the pain. Here are some useful hacks for managing period pain…
1. Heat Therapy
A hot towel
A warm bath
A hot water bottle
Fill a cloth bag with uncooked rice and heat it up for a couple of minutes in the microwave. Wrap it in a towel and apply as necessary.
Essential oil massages are a great way to relieve pain in the abdomen and lower back. There is one study which suggests that essential oils are more effective in combating period pain than normal creams with synthetic fragrances. This is due to the natural properties each essential oil possesses. Lavender has a calming effect and is great for aromatherapy. Clary sage is used for stress relief and contains sclareol, a compound that mimics the effects of estrogen and thus alleviates menstrual pain. Marjoram, cinnamon, clove, and rose are also great options. Be sure to dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or olive first before use.
Diet plays a huge role in improving your symptoms. Here are some definite no-nos during your period:
- Salty foods
- Deep-fried foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Sugary foods
Instead, try some of these foods:
- Fruits like strawberries, watermelon, papaya, and raspberries
- Dark chocolate
- Green leafy vegetables
- Brown rice
- Water. Lots and lots of water.
- Fish and chicken
- Mint or ginger tea for a gentle caffeine fix
Even though it seems nearly impossible to find the motivation to move around on your period, getting physical exercise can actually alleviate cramping. The endorphin rush that comes with a quick jog or even some light yoga can eliminate the need for pain relievers, according to research. Try poses like cobra, cat-camel, supine twist, supported prone, reclined bound angle, and inverted leg pose.
5. Herbal Healing
We may be a herb-positive website, but there’s loads of scientific research behind the use of certain herbs for relieving menstrual pain. Some herbs to try include:
- Chamomile: It contains a compound called glycine which helps relieve muscle spasms, according to a 2012 study. Try a hot cup of chamomile tea twice a day before your period.
- Cinnamon: A 2015 study found that women who took cinnamon capsules reported less pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting as compared to a placebo. Take 860mg of cinnamon capsules three times a day for the first three days of your period.
- Dill: Dill contains mefenamic acid, which is effective in easing menstrual cramps and is even used in OTC drugs. Try 1000mg of dill for 5 days, and be sure to start 2 days before your cycle.
- Ginger: A study of university students found that ginger was just as effective as ibuprofen in menstrual pain relief. Try 250mg of ginger powder 4 times a day for 3 days, or grate a piece into some tea or hot water for a relaxing beverage.
Some other helpful research-backed herbs include turmeric (curcumin), French maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol) extract, black cohosh, cramp bark and chaste tree berry (vitex).
If your symptoms seem to get worse as the years go by, you notice excessive bleeding, or you are unable to normally function, it’s time to see a doctor.
While periods may be an inconvenient and uncomfortable time of the month, there are several effective ways to fight the symptoms and get out of your slump. Just know that it's perfectly okay to lie down, relax and take a breather. You’ve earned it.
Complementary Therapies in Medicine: "Curcumin Attenuates Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.