Most women know that menstrual cramps are no laughing matter. These pains can temporarily ruin your life and make it impossible to work or perform normal activities.
Surveys indicate that as many as 10% of women are actually temporarily disabled by cramps. The same surveys show that menstrual cramps are the biggest reason why women under 30 years of age miss work. The problem often gets worse because many women also suffer from lower back pain at the same time.
Fortunately, there are many really good home remedies for menstrual cramps. These remedies can help a woman avoid the worst symptoms and quickly return to her normal life. Even if these remedies don’t make the pains go away, they can make them manageable.
Some Effective Home Remedies for Menstrual Cramp
Simply putting a hot water bottle or a heating pad on the affected area can reduce the pain and the swelling. If you don’t have such contrivances available, you can make a low-cost substitute by filling a cloth bag or a pillowcase with rice then sewing it up. Use the microwave to warm the bag up, and simply place it against your body like a water bottle. Be careful not to overheat it because it can lead to burns.
Drink Hot Water
Many women develop painful cramps because their bodies get dehydrated. Simply drinking several glasses of water a day can reduce the pain. Drinking warm or hot water can be more effective because it increases blood flow and relaxes cramped muscles. Avoid green tea or coffee because they can dehydrate you and make the problem worse. Eating soups and fresh fruits and vegetables can also help.
Exercise can reduce the pain and swelling from cramps by increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins or natural pain killers. Moderate activity, such as walking, yoga, or gardening, is best. Such activities can also reduce stress and relax you. Avoid strenuous activities, and stop exercise if the pain gets worse.
Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Many common OTC pain relievers, including ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, and naproxen sodium (Aleve), can be highly effective against cramps. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, reduce swelling and pain. A study by Britain’s National Health Service found that seven out of ten women with cramps would benefit from these drugs. Women with kidney, stomach, or liver problems and ladies with asthma should not take these drugs because of potential complications.
This herb has long been used as a treatment for menstrual problems in traditional Chinese medicine. Scientific research shows it can reduce pain-causing chemicals in the blood. It can also fight fatigue and make periods regular. To take advantage of it, simply add ginger to your food or suck on ginger candy. If you want, you can make ginger tea by boiling ginger in hot water. You can also mix ginger with juices and smoothies.
This spice that’s probably in your kitchen has been proven to have anti-inflammatory, anticlotting, and antispasmodic capabilities that can reduce menstrual pain. The best way to take advantage of it is to make cinnamon tea by adding a pinch of the spice or a cinnamon stick to a cup of hot water. Add honey if you don’t like the flavor. Two to three cups a day can reduce the pain.
Like cinnamon, chamomile tea has proven anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. It can actually relax the uterus and reduce the spasms that cause menstrual pain. Drinking at least two cups of chamomile tea a day during your period can reduce the pain. Chamomile tea bags are available at most supermarkets and online. Simply follow the instructions when you boil yourself a cup or a pot.
Stop Caffeine, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use During Period
Alcohol and caffeine make menstrual cramps worse by dehydrating the body. Tobacco smoke causes coughing, which increases the pain and prolongs the agony. A woman can reduce menstrual pain by quitting smoking. Simply avoiding alcohol, soft drinks, coffee, and caffeinated teas during your period can reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Avoiding areas where you can breathe in second-hand cigarette smoke can also reduce the symptoms.
The traditional Chinese method of pain relief can be a highly effective treatment for menstrual pain. Some studies show that it can be just as effective as over the counter pain relievers for reducing menstrual cramps. The theory behind acupuncture is that it reduces tension by restoring the flow of Chi, or natural energy, through your body. Acupuncture can also relieve stress and back pain, which can make cramps worse. Locate a professional acupuncturist or a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine if you want to try it because self-administered treatment can be dangerous.
Shiatsu, a popular Japanese massage therapy based on traditional Chinese medicine, can be a highly effective treatment for menstrual cramps. Shiatsu helps reduce pain and swelling by reducing tension and restoring the flow of Chi. One of the greatest benefits from shiatsu is as a stress reducer, which can help you relax. The video below can show you how to use Shiatsu for menstrual cramps:
Cautions for Home Remedies for Cramps
None of these home remedies will be very effective if you are in poor health. Taking such steps as getting plenty of exercise each day, getting a good night’s sleep every day, reducing stress, ending bad habits like smoking, and eating a healthy diet can help you avoid the pain of menstrual cramps in the first place.
If the home remedies do work or the pain becomes severe, you should seek medical help. Severe menstrual cramps can be a symptom of serious health problems that require medical treatment. You should also seek medical help if pain persists after your period because it might not be menstrual cramps causing it.