Period pain is very common and can affect up to 70% of menstruating women. The pain, called dysmenorrhea which literally means “difficult menstruation”, usually feels like cramping in the lower abdominal area and typically occurs just before or during menstruation and is one of the leading causes for women to miss work. Luckily, there are many safe and effective natural remedies for period pain relief.
Why do we experience period pain?
Each month when the uterine lining sheds as a period, the uterus must contract. These contractions are caused by the release of the body’s prostaglandins, which are hormones produced by the lining of the womb. In women with dysmenorrhea the contractions are very painful. The uterus may even spasm. Pain can be localized to the lower abdomen, but it can also be in the lower back, in the vulva, as well as radiating down the thighs.
If you have extremely painful periods it is important to talk to your doctor about this to rule out if what you are experiencing is actual Primary Dysmenorrhea, or Secondary Dysmennorrhea. Primary means that no physical cause of the period pain is identified, whereas secondary means there is another health issue causing or contributing to period pain such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or uterine fibroids. There may also be other factors that are causing pain that may also need to be ruled out, such as IBS, constipation, or infection.
Here are some safe and effective natural remedies for period pain relief:
Try herbal medicine
Herbs can be just as effective as ibuprofen for period pain relief but without the side-effects. There is also no risk of liver damage from herbs like there are with NSAID use. I have formulated a hormone kit called ‘Period Comfort’ using the best herbs to help ease period pain. This kit contains my Female Comfort Tea + Cramp bark & Black Haw tincture.
Female Comfort Tea – contains herbs to balance hormones, regulate prostaglandin metabolism, improve circulation to the pelvic area, and tone and relax the excessive contractions of the uterus. The herbs are combined so that the formula treats both the symptoms and the cause of period pain. I recommend drinking this tea all month long.
Cramp bark & Black Haw tincture – the best antispasmodic herbs to relieve period pain and can be taken a couple of days before the onset of your period and continued throughout to help relieve cramps and pain.
You can purchase this kit here.
Massage with essential oils
Essential oils such as lavender and clary sage have shown in studies to help reduce period pain when massaged into their lower abdomen from one end of their period to the beginning of the next.
My Deep Comfort Bath & Body oil has been specifically formulated to help reduce period pain and muscular tension. It contains four essential oils – lavender, sweet marjoram, roman chamomile and clary sage in a highly absorbable base and a small amount can be gently massaged into any area of your body where you feel discomfort, or poured into your bath.
Apply heat to ease period pain
Curling up with a heating pad or hot water bottle can help ease menstrual cramps. According to University College London researchers, applying heat to the skin near to where internal pain is felt, can provide period pain relief for up to an hour.
Up your magnesium intake
Magnesium helps to relax smooth muscle tissue and has been shown to greatly reduce menstrual cramping. Magnesium deficiency is a leading cause of menstrual cramps and headaches. A great way of increasing your magnesium is adding Magnesium flakes to your bath. I recommend 1 cup per bath, plus my deep comfort bath & body oil, sit back and relax. Or taking magnesium capsules before bed can also help and aid sleep.
Exercise really helps relieve period pain by improving circulation to the pelvic area. The more toned you’re stomach muscles, the better you will feel. I highly recommend practicing yoga in between periods. I don’t recommend exercise (especially intense exercise) during your period bleed. I give you permission to stop!
Consider eliminating dairy. There is a fair amount of evidence suggesting that menstrual cramps are linked to a sensitivity to dairy. This is most likely due to A1 casein, a protein found in milk that can be inflammatory in some women. If you choose dairy, try to purchase organic and unhomogenised dairy (preferably from Jersey cattle, or goat’s/sheep milk which have no A1 casein).
Reduce red meat and egg yolk consumption to at most 2-3 times a week. This is because both red meat and egg yolk are high in arachidonic acid (AA). This has been found to increase cellular inflammation in some people. To find out if you are sensitive to AA, eliminate red meat and egg yolk for a month. Reintroduce it and see if your symptoms come back. Choose organic free-range meats and eggs when possible to avoid added hormones.
Like magnesium, turmeric is great for both prevention and acute care. Its high anti-inflammatory activity can stimulate circulation, encourage effective blood flow and ease pre-menstrual and menstrual pain. It also supports the liver, helping it to break down and get rid of excess hormones that can contribute to problems such as PMS. I recommend Wild Nutrition Turmeric capsules. Take 2 per day, and may be increased to 6 per day during your period pain.
Do you have any other natural remedies that you find that work? Feel free to comment below and share your experiences with others.