Menstrual Cramp Relief: Best Natural Treatment Options

Updated on October 19, 2017
isvayah profile image

Isvaiyah has been a licensed pharmacist at Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) for nine years. She earned her M.Sc. from the same university.

Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

Many women get cramping and discomfort during, or just before, a period. Some suffer from a headache or nausea at the same time. Certain medical conditions, such as fibroids, endometriosis, or adenomyosis, can make cramps even worse.

During a menstrual period, your body releases chemical compounds called prostaglandins that cause contractions. It is thought that when higher levels of prostaglandins are released in the body, more severe menstrual cramps occur.

Conventional Treatments for Menstrual Cramps

Some women simply rely on over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil™ or other brands). These drugs can cause undesired side effects if used a lot. Ibuprofen and aspirin occasionally cause damage to the stomach. Teenagers should not take aspirin, as there are slight risks of very serious side effects.

A combination of contraceptive pills tends to give lighter and less painful periods, and many women take this combo pill for this reason, sometimes even if they do not need it for contraception. The combined pill can give a slightly higher risk of thrombosis, so it should not be used by those at particular risk of getting this condition.

On the other hand, taking the combined pill lessens the risk of getting ovarian cancer and cancer of the womb. Various contraceptive implants, such as Mirena™, can also reduce the severity of cramps.

A healthy diet, which is containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, tends to lessen the pain of menstrual cramps. So whatever else you do, remember to eat healthily. Try to quit smoking, as it tends to make your condition worse. You can get nicotine gums or patches to help you do this.

If your cramps are consistently much more severe than previously, or seem to spread over more of your body than before, you may have a more severe/serious underlying condition, such as endometriosis. Consult a qualified physician immediately.

Menstrual cramps (the medical term is dysmenorrhea) describe a throbbing pain that usually occurs in the lower abdomen. Some women experience these painful symptoms just before and during their menstrual periods.
Menstrual cramps (the medical term is dysmenorrhea) describe a throbbing pain that usually occurs in the lower abdomen. Some women experience these painful symptoms just before and during their menstrual periods.

How to Get Rid of Menstrual Cramp?

Many women prefer to use home remedies to avoid some unfavorable side effects of medical treatments. Anyway, if you end up relying on the contraceptive pill to reduce cramps, you still need to find something else to take if you want to become pregnant, as it may take several months, or even years, to do so.

The following home remedies for menstrual cramps are worth trying:

Natural Menstrual Cramp Relief

Remedy
How to
Note
Cramp Bark
Take up to three cups of herbal tea per day.
Capsules are available. Follow the directions.
Chamomile
Take up to three cups of herbal tea per day.
Avoid use if you are allergic to ragweed.
White Deadnettle
Make an herbal tea from the flowers and leaves.
Capsules are available. Follow the directions.
Parsley
Eat parsley with a variety of dishes or make a tea from the leaves.
Avoid this herb if you suffer from kidney disease or high blood pressure.
Heat Therapy
Use a hot water bottle or a microwave heat pad.
A warm bath sometimes can also help as well.
Magnesium
Take around 300 to 500 mg daily.
Don't go overboard!
Exercise
Do a yoga practice, brisk walking, or aerobic.
Don’t overdo the exercise!

Yoga for Menstrual Cramp Relief

Remedy #1 - Cramp Bark

The name says it all. Cramp bark, from the shrub Viburnum opulus, is a 'primadonna' alternative menstrual cramp home remedy. You can buy cramp bark capsules from a number of suppliers. Use the dosage recommended on the packaging.

Some people prefer to make a herbal tea from the chopped up bark. Take up to three cups per day for menstrual cramp relief.

Remedy #2 - Chamomile

The German chamomile (scientifically called Matricaria chamomilla) is a very relaxing and soothing herb. People usually take this herb in the form of an herbal tea, which is made from the flowers. The tea bags are readily available from some suppliers.

Take up to three cups of the tea a day, starting in the week before your period’s due. However, avoid this herb if you’re allergic to ragweed.

It’s easy enough to grow German chamomile. Sow the seeds indoors on a windowsill in spring and plant out the young plants into well-drained soil in a sunny position. The plant is an annual (dies in a year), so you’ll need to resow next spring.

Avoid chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed.

Chamomile tea can serve as a natural painkiller for menstrual cramps.
Chamomile tea can serve as a natural painkiller for menstrual cramps.

Remedy #3 - White Deadnettle

The white deadnettle or Lamium album is a herbal remedy for menstrual cramp relief. The plant looks like a stinging nettle or Urtica dioica, but has noticeable white flowers and does not sting. It’s native to Europe, including the UK, but you can find it growing in a number of eastern states. Capsules are commercially available from a number of suppliers. Use as directed on the packaging.

If you can find this plant, you can try making a strong herbal tea from the flowers and leaves. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or honey to taste. Take half a cup three times a day. You can dry the plant for later use by hanging it up in a dry outbuilding.

Remedy #4 - Parsley

The herb parsley or Petroselinum crispum has long been used to alleviate menstrual cramps. It contains active chemical compounds apiol and myristicin that are believed to be responsible for its effects. You can eat parsley with a variety of dishes. You can also make a soothing tea from the leaves. Add lemon or honey to improve the flavor. Drink a cup twice a day.

Some herbalists recommend using parsley essential oil, but it is best avoided, as it is a very concentrated form of the herb, and tends to give undesired side effects. Avoid parsley altogether if you suffer from kidney disease or high blood pressure.

It's simple to grow parsley. Sow the seeds in a fairly deep pot on a windowsill in early spring, or outside in late spring. They take a long time to germinate, so be patient.

Parsley will grow in a sunny or partially shaded position. It likes a rich soil, and plenty of water in dry weather. It’s a biennial (normally flowers and dies in its second year).

Avoid parsley if you suffer from kidney disease or high blood pressure.

Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea)

Remedy #5 - Heat Therapy

Surprisingly, heat from a hot water bottle or a microwave heat pad often serves as an effective remedy for menstrual cramp relief, particularly when you’re going to bed. A warm bath sometimes can also help as well.

However, do not put a heating pad in the microwave for longer than the instructions say, as there have been cases of them charring or catching fire.

Remedy #6 - Magnesium

A 2001 scientific review of previous studies had concluded that magnesium could be recommended as a treatment for period pain. You can buy magnesium supplements. Take around 300 to 500 mg daily, ideally beginning a day or two before your period’s due. A number of healthy foods, such as green vegetables, beans, nuts, brown rices, and whole wheat breads are good sources of magnesium.

Taking too much magnesium may cause some unfavorable side effects, such as diarrhea. This supplement can also interfere with some medications, such as various antibiotics. Be sure to consult your doctor if you want to combine magnesium supplements with other medication.

Magnesium sometimes causes unfavorable side effects, such as diarrhea. Magnesium can also interact with certain medications, including various antibiotics. Consult your doctor before trying magnesium supplements.

Remedy #7 - Exercise

It is probably the last thing you feel like doing, but yoga tends to eliminate the pain of menstrual cramps. Some women find that this Indian traditional practice helps. If you are not a big fan of yoga, you may prefer brisk walking, or doing aerobic exercises to music. However, don’t overdo the exercise.

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    © 2016 Isvaiyah

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