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Some people have great results with natural remedies for common ailments. While for others over-the-counter pain relievers, and even prescription drugs, might be the best course of action.
If you’ve been wondering about teas, herbs and other natural remedies to help with period cramps, we’ve done some research. Some of these natural remedies might be worth exploring, while others can’t be proven effective.
What is a Period Cramp?First things first, what’s really going on when you experience a period cramp? Period cramps are muscular contractions of the uterus as it prepares to shed the uterine lining. Anything you can do to improve muscular functioning and reduce muscle spasms throughout the body can be used to help the muscles of the uterus.
Fluctuations in sex hormones can lead to intense period cramps and sometimes be signs of an underlying condition. It never hurts to investigate further with a healthcare professional. Other times, these symptoms are normal for your cycle and not as debilitating.
Common Remedies for Menstrual PainIf you regularly deal with menstrual cramps; you know the old standbys. Common remedies for period cramps include:
- Heat therapy, such as using a heating pad or taking a warm bath
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Yoga and other relaxation techniques
- Light exercise or stretching
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Getting enough sleep and managing stress
Fact or Fiction?Painful periods can be debilitating and it’s important to find a solution that works for you. Could some of these natural solutions be an effective option for combating monthly menstrual pains?
Many hormone balancing teas for menstrual cramps have been popping up. While tea is delicious and soothing, is it really the answer to your menstrual pain?
FictionBefore you desperately order all the “herbs for menstrual cramps” or “teas for menstrual cramps” that are popping up on your IG, here are natural remedies that lack scientific proof:
- A cup of tea to relieve cramps. Chamomile tea, peppermint tea, raspberry leaf tea, cinnamon tea, fennel tea, or even green tea only have a soothing or calming effect—there's no evidence to suggest that these herbal teas can reduce period pain.
- While essential oils may have a pleasant smell and provide feelings of relaxation, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that they can relieve cramps.
FactsThere are several scientifically proven natural remedies for menstrual cramps including:
- Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to be effective in reducing the intensity of menstrual cramps.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, chia seeds, and avocadoes. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.
- Magnesium and magnesium-rich foods, like almonds, spinach, and dark chocolate. Magnesium is a mineral that helps regulate muscle contractions and reduce spasms.
- Heat therapy provides relief from cramps by soothing and relaxing the muscles of the uterus and surrounding areas.
- Exercise can help reduce the severity of cramps by moving and stretching muscles, as well as releasing endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Regular exercise throughout your entire menstrual cycle will help ward off cramps.
- Acupuncture and acupressure have been found to be effective in reducing the intensity.
- Having an orgasm also causes a release of endorphins, as well as causing the muscles in the uterus to contract and then relax. However, orgasms don’t work for everyone, and they can sometimes increase cramps.
- Applying cramp creams that contain scientifically-backed ingredients like castor oil, camphor, wintergreen, and arnica—a powerful natural formula for relief from pain and inflammation.
- Abaraogu, Ukachukwu Okoroafor, and Chidinma Samantha Tabansi-Ochuogu. “As Acupressure Decreases Pain, Acupuncture May Improve Some Aspects of Quality of Life for Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, vol. 8, no. 5, Oct. 2015, pp. 220–228, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2015.06.010. Accessed 7 Feb. 2020.
- Armour, Mike, et al. “Exercise for Dysmenorrhoea.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, no. 9, 20 Sept. 2019, https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd004142.pub4.
- Blödt, Susanne, et al. “Effectiveness of App-Based Self-Acupressure for Women with Menstrual Pain Compared to Usual Care: A Randomized Pragmatic Trial.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 218, no. 2, Feb. 2018, pp. 227.e1–227.e9, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2017.11.570. Accessed 19 Oct. 2019.
- Information, National Center for Biotechnology, et al. Period Pain: Overview. Www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), 1 Aug. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279324/.
- Rahnama, Parvin, et al. “Effect of Zingiber Officinale R. Rhizomes (Ginger) on Pain Relief in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Placebo Randomized Trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 12, no. 1, 10 July 2012, https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-12-92. Accessed 16 June 2019.