7 Ways To Relieve Menstrual Cramps Naturally
When deciding on what form of birth control would be best for me, I prioritized something that was non-hormonal. After much research, I chose a copper-IUD because it's 99.9% effective and does not release anything at all into my body. Most days I love it but two stubborn side effects are heavier periods and painful cramps on the first two days. My body bloats, my back aches, and my head pounds. I've done a bit of reading to figure out what actually helps me feel better when aunt Flo comes for a visit, and I'd love to share my recommendations with you. In cases of extreme back pain, I do take advil liquid gels to help me get back on my feet quickly. Otherwise, I try my best to utilize as many of the suggestions below to relieve stiffness and pain without popping a pill.
Please keep in mind that all of these recommendations are based on my own experience, and I am not a healthcare professional. Consult your doctor before incorporating these tactics to make sure they are safe for your body.
Hot water is one of easiest ways to relax your body and release stress in your muscles. While a shower will help, a bath will do significantly more for you during your cycle. If you don't have time or a bathtub, you can use a hot water bottle instead. Fill the bottle with hot water, and rest it on your lower stomach while laying down. The warmth will ease pain and cramping. You can also place it on your lower back for relief in that area.
Because it is anti-inflammatory and promotes circulation, using castor oil topically during your period is very effective at relieving cramps. Place a 1-2 teaspoons of oil on your bare stomach, and use your fingers to gently massage for 5-10 minutes.
Many of us are magnesium deficient because we don't get enough from the food in our diets. Even if you are not, magnesium can assist your body to relax deeply and release tension. I like to incorporate the nutrient either with bath salts, or as a drink. Natural Calm is a personal favorite. It's a low-dosage and safe magnesium powder that is available at Whole Foods. I simply mix it into a glass of water and drink it during my period or to relieve anxiety if I'm very stressed.
I recently learned about dong quai, also called the female ginseng. It comes from the angelic sinesis plant and has been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years. I like HUM Nutrition "Moody Bird" supplements, which incorporate Dong Quai. While they recommend taking everyday, I only take them 2-3 days before my period, and during my period to help me balance my blood.
If you get nauseas during your period, make a cup of hot ginger tea. Simply grate a nub of fresh ginger into hot water and let it steep for 3-4 minutes. Then strain, and drink the warm water to ease your stomach. If you have access to fresh turmeric root, this can be incorporated too as it helps with inflammation.
Red Raspberry Leaf
This plant is derived from the leaves of a raspberry plant and usually consumed as a tea. It has a strong flavor, similar to black tea, but is naturally caffeine free. It also helps ease cramps.
My body feels wound up like a spring during my menstrual cycle, so I try to do some light yoga stretches. I also enjoy using a foam roller to release tension in my back. Here are a few suggestions for poses that are beneficial during your cycle. Feel free to also just get on the mat and do what feels good for you, but avoid inversions.
Don't underestimate the importance of sleep during your period, and don't push yourself too hard! Your body is working diligently and using up a lot of energy, so just be kind to yourself and be sure to get at least 8 hours a night.