Natural cures for menstrual cramps

If you suffer from menstrual cramps you’ll know how miserable the clenching pain can be. Some women find them so painful that they have to take to their bed and miss work. To some extent menstrual cramps are part of the normal menstrual cycle, but the pain should not be dehabilitating.

Menstrual cramps are caused by the contraction of the smooth muscles of the womb as it tries to empty during the monthly bleed. Most women experience some cramping and this is entirely normal, but intense or prolonged cramps are not normal and often the result of too much stress and a poor diet. Stress-reducing practises, such as yoga and meditation, have been shown in studies to reduce the pain of menstrual cramping. A diet high in sugar and red meat, which produces arachidonic acid, is known to trigger inflammation and pain, so should be avoided and replaced with a whole food diet that is high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.


I also strongly advise you to avoid over the counter pain relief as these often have unpleasant side effects, such as headaches and digestive upsets. Instead choose natural treatments, such as the ones recommended below, to ease the pain without the side effects.


Acupuncture: many women find that acupuncture can be great for pain relief.


Aromatherapy: cramps often manifest as a dull ache in the pelvis and lower back. Self massaging is a good way to ease the pain, especially if combined with aromatherapy oils. A recent study in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative medicine found that women who used a topical formula containing the essential oils of clary sage, lavender and rose reduce menstrual pain by up to 50 per cent. Clary sage is a great hormone balancer and mood lifter. Lavender and rose are both calming scents with antispasmodic effects. To make your own blend add 10 drops of each essential oil to 4 ounces of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, and then massage lightly onto your abdomen and lower back.


Ginger tea: cramping can be alleviated by boosting circulating according to Aryuvedic practitioners. Taking warm sitz baths before your period can increase circulation in the pelvis. Better yet, warm yourself from the inside out with a homemade tea of ginger, lemon and honey. Ginger will help dilate the blood vessels so that blood is shed more smoothly and honey and lemon are very calming and relaxing. Slice a section of fresh ginger root, about 2 inches long, and boil in four cups of water for 10 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and sweeten with honey or maple syrup.


Cramp bark: this herb, as the name implies, is a terrific muscle relaxant for the womb. I suggest taking the herb in tincture form as it is better absorbed by your body and acts more quickly. Try up to 5ml four times a day.

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