Natural Remedies For Period Pain
For many women, their monthly menstrual cycle is nothing more than an annoyance. For others, it can be so severe that it seriously disrupts everyday activities like going to work or school.
The key cause of this disruption is the menstrual cramps often referred to as period pain.
These cramps are caused by a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin, which makes the uterine muscles contract and causes a dull ache or throbbing in the lower abdomen. This pain often radiates to the lower back and thighs and can last for days making for a thoroughly miserable time.
While over-the-counter painkillers can be effective at relieving painful cramps, here are five natural remedies for period pain that may be more suitable for long-term use.
Applying heat to the abdomen and lower back can help to ease pain and relax contracting uterine muscles. Try using a hot water bottle, heating pad, or a hot towel to relieve aches and pains.
Hot drinks may even be helpful as hot liquids increase blood flow to the skin and can relax cramped muscles. Keeping hydrated is also important to help reduce bloating and water retention during your period, so skip to caffeinated drinks and opt for a warming herbal tea instead.
The ginger root is a natural pain-killer that has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can alleviate period pains as it can help to lower the levels of prostaglandins in the body. It can also help with nausea and stomach upsets, which some women are prone to during menstruation.
Add ginger to your food, make a ginger tea by grating a small piece into a cup of boiling water, or try ginger supplements if you aren't a fan of the strong taste.
Calcium and magnesium are important for normal muscle function and contraction, and in supplement form, they are often taken in combination. One study found that calcium supplements improved menstrual cramps, mood, concentration and behaviour in premenstrual women.
A separate study found that 360mg of magnesium daily for three days prior to the start of menstrual bleeding offered significant relief from dysmenorrhea (very painful periods).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids help to lower inflammation throughout the body, and several studies have found links between low blood concentrations of omega 3 and increased menstrual cramps.
The findings suggest that omega 3 supplements need to be consumed daily for at least two months to improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea. The best food source is oily fish such as salmon and mackerel while vegetable sources such as flax seeds are also beneficial.
Evening Primrose Oil
The oil extracted from the evening primrose plant is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA). In the body, GLA interferes with the production of inflammatory prostaglandins released during menstruation and so can offer some relief from menstrual cramps, as well as bloating, headaches and breast tenderness.
Some women also find that evening primrose oil supplements help to promote a steadier emotional balance and a more relaxed mood.