All women have experienced menstrual cramps sometime or another in their lifetimes. Most of us would just bear with the pain for several days, or consume some painkillers for some short-term relief. But in reality, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Alternative and natural remedies are some of the affordable and safe ways you can use to reduce or even eliminate your menstrual cramps.
However, when it comes to home remedies, it’s important to persevere and wait for the remedy to take effect as home remedies may take a while longer to work as compared to over-the-counter solutions.
Before we jump into the remedies, it’s best to have an understanding of why menstrual cramps occur. In the medical world, the condition of having excessively painful menstrual cramps or painful periods is known as dysmenorrhea.
For women with primary dysmenorrhea, which occur just before and during menstruation, the usual causes could be high levels of the hormone prostaglandins. Prostaglandins function to start muscle contractions in the uterine area so that the uterus lining is expelled each month.
Among those who are at risk of having dysmenorrheal include young women below the age of 20, family history, those with irregular menstruation, smoking women and those who have never given birth before. Apart from that, usage of certain types of IUD may also be associated with pain or cramps during menstruation.
List of natural remedies for menstrual cramps
1) Drink lots of warm water
It may seem a little odd that simply drinking water can help alleviate cramps, but the explanation is pretty straight-forward. There are two ways which water help. First, better hydration means that your body will not work to retain liquids. When water retention occurs, your body becomes bloated, increasing the likelihood of cramps.
Another way warm water can help is that blood flow is increased on the skin and this helps to relax the cramped muscles.
To increase hydration, fruits with high water content may also help. These include watermelon, celery or berries.
2) Increase intake of calcium
Calcium intake of 1000 mg per day for women between the ages of 19 and 50 may help reduce the incidences of muscle cramping. So, look for foods with high calcium content such as almonds, milk products or leafy green vegetables.
There is some truth in the fact that papayas have high nutritional value, including carotene and vitamin contents that are good in helping to reduce menstrual cramps.
To reduce heavy bleeding, you need food that contains bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Buckwheat contains both and this fruit seed can easily use it to make pancakes or breads. This food has also a long list of other health benefits as well and is traditionally in the diets of the Yi people of China. It also helps with lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar and even gallstone prevention.
Another common household food that is often overlooked at as a remedy is Cinnamon. This simple spice has anti-inflammatory content and is also easily consumed. All you need is to make a hot pot of cinnamon tea and enjoy!
Ginger has always been a home remedy for all sorts of common ailments such as the flu, colds and headaches. It is not a wonder then that Ginger is also in the list of foods that work well in reducing pain from menstrual cramps.
You can either try to down a cup of ginger tea, or just add a piece of ginger to a glass of warm water.
There has been much research done on the impact of fennel in helping with Dysmenorrhea, and it has proven to be pretty much true. With antispasmodic properties, fennel works on relaxing muscle, thus reducing menstruation cramps in the process. However, while this has been deemed to be a safe natural remedy, its antispasmodic properties may also work to increase bleeding. Thus, advise of a medical practitioner may be required for use of fennel in certain cases of menstrual cramps.
8) Maca Powder
MACA powder is believed to work on helping with irregularities in general fertility issues or sexual health. Women who are facing low libido, or facing various menstrual problems such as late or early periods, painful periods, spotting or menstrual pain will benefit from maca powder. The way it works is that Maca Powder helps with correcting hormonal imbalance by working on the glands that are producing too much or too little hormones.
This is something all of us should do, but most of us don’t do enough of. Exercising helps to improve or stimulate blood circulation and also release endorphins. With proper blood flow and relaxation, you are less likely to experience menstrual cramps especially over the long term. While you may not be able to exert yourself during this time, moderate exercise is fine and would work well for your overall well-being too.
9) Heat Packs
A direct way to relieve menstrual pain especially when you are at the thick of it would be to use heat packs. The increase in blood flow to the surface of your skin, will help reduce the muscle cramps. While you may use heat packs easily purchased from the supermarket, other ways to make your own heat pack include filling a cloth sack with rice and heating it in the microwave.
10) Reduce Caffeine Intake
Coffee has become such a regular beverage in our lives that we hardly realize cutting down on caffeine can actually help with reducing menstrual cramps. Caffeine has the ability to cause dehydration, and this also causes bloating. If you are craving for a replacement beverage, you may want to consider chamomile or cinnamon tea instead.
Finally, for optimal health and well-being, these are also some general lifestyle considerations:
- Keep your body warm during menstruation
- Avoid eating processed foods
- Avoiding foods with caffeine
- Get adequate amounts of sleep, at least 7 – 8 hours a day
- Take multivitamins to support bodily functions and to build resistance