For women, menstruation is a fact of life. For many women, it’s also a source of nearly unbearable pain in the form of menstrual cramps. We take unpaid leave from the office to crawl into bed for days or spend bucket-loads of money on physicians who suggest invasive surgery. Menstrual cramps therefore have an economic factor unaddressed by mainstream media except by the magical birth control pill. What these doctors won’t tell you, however, is that a number of simple, effective, and natural home remedies for menstrual cramps are available.
Natural and Inexpensive Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
For most of us, there are more natural, safer methods to ease menstrual cramps than taking oral contraceptives (which can increase your risk for blood clot, stroke, and breast and cervical cancer). Discuss the following methods with your holistic physician and see what works for you.
- Apple cider vinegar - Just one of countless apple cider vinegar benefits, this food can have a positive impact on menstrual cramps. Take a teaspoon of unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg is a popular choice) with a cup of warm water before meals, three times daily. Apple cider vinegar regulates clotting and therefore reduces the duration of the period and the amount of blood lost, preventing anemia. Its potassium and calcium can also reduce cramping by easing the muscles in the uterus. You can increase intake as well, and this could be a solution for excessive menstrual bleeding.
- Blackstrap molasses – One of the “handed down” home remedies for menstrual cramps, just 2-3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses taken daily contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, manganese, and vitamin B6 to help with menstrual cramping. These nutrients ease muscles, reduce blood clotting, and make up for deficiencies ensuing blood loss. Try taking blackstrap molasses in warm milk (or a vegan milk substitute). You can even add it to beans, poultry dishes, and bread or cookies.
- Herbs - Calming chamomile, delicious cinnamon, and crisp-smelling mint make great teas to calm the mind as well as the body. Also, try boiling crushed ginger in a pot of water for 30 minutes and drinking with honey or lemon juice. Lemon, honey, and ginger health benefits alone make this a great option.
- Reduce intake of salty foods, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol - These foods can increase bloating and worsen cramping; try to minimize consumption.
- Keep exercising - Taking a break when in pain is a natural instinct, but maintaining even light exercise reduces muscle tension and uterine cramping. It’s also great for stress relief and to increase your daily intake of vitamin D if you exercise outside, which has been shown to be an effective solution for menstrual cramps and pain. Try walking 20 minutes a day (two 10-minute walks works, too) or rolling out the yoga mat for a slow session. If you’re a water person, go for a relaxing swim.
- De-stress - Stress raises cortisol levels, which can suppress thyroid function, imbalance blood sugar, and compromise your immune system. No one needs that on their plate while menstruating, too.