Also called dysmenorrhea, period cramps refer to the throbbing pain in the lower part of the abdomen before or during menstruation [1, 2].

For some women, the problem is tolerable, but for others, it can be so severe that daily activities are affected [2].

There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary [3].

Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in young women as a result of “increased activity of the hormone prostaglandin” in the uterus [3].

Secondary dysmenorrhea, meanwhile, is more common among older women who may issues with the uterus or other organs in the pelvis [3].

To get relief from painful menstrual cramps, use these simple but evidence-based approaches.

1. Ginger

Ginger has always had a place in the kitchen, adding unique flavor to soups and dishes.

Did you know that it has also been used since the ancient times to cure a wide range of health problems [4]?

One of the many ailments it can treat is dysmenorrhea [5].

The Pain Management Nursing Journal published a study in 2014 citing the effectiveness of ginger in relieving pain in 150 young women suffering from primary dysmenorrhea [5].

In the trial, the participants were requested to take either ginger capsules, zinc sulfate capsules or placebo capsules for four days before the start of the menstrual period up to the third day of bleeding [5].

Intensity of pain was reported to be much lower in the groups that took ginger and zinc sulfate capsules [5].

Contributing to ginger’s analgesic effects is its main compound called gingerol [6].

This was proven in an animal trial wherein gingerol was administered in rats, and was shown to have positive effects on acetic-induced writhing as well as formalin-induced licking [6].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. While waiting, grate ginger.
  3. Steep ginger in hot water for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain the tea.
  5. Drink it twice a day for one week during your menstrual period.

2. Chamomile

ezcema-chamomileA cup of chamomile tea has been proven helpful in alleviating pain from period cramps [7].

Chamomile’s analgesic and antinociceptive properties have been well established in scientific research [8, 9, 10].

In fact, it was found to be more superior to mefenamic acid in relieving premenstrual pain and emotional symptoms [11].

This was the result of an experiment that involved 90 female students suffering from period cramps [11].

These students were treated with either 100 mg of chamomile capsule or 250 mg of mefenamic acid three times daily during their menstrual period [11].

Pain, irritability and stress were significantly lower among the chamomile users than the mefenamic acid takers [11].

Since chamomile is a natural remedy, you can expect that it has fewer side effects than the standard medication for pain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of chamomile
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Add chamomile.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Strain the tea.
  5. Drink the concoction twice a day for four to five days.

3. Lavender Oil

lavender-oil-dandruffWidely recognized for its therapeutic purposes, lavender has long been used to induce relaxation, relieve pain, treat burns and insect bites, and get rid of parasitic infections [12].

In a clinical trial conducted by researchers from Iran, 96 female students who complain of dysmenorrhea were made to inhale either lavender oil or a placebo [13].

According to the findings, dysmenorrhea symptoms were fewer and lesser in intensity among those who inhaled lavender [13].

Aside from relieving menstrual pain, lavender also appears to decrease the amount of bleeding [13].

Experts suggest using lavender oil for dysmenorrhea not only because it is inexpensive and easy to use but also because it has no side effects [13].

Another study featured in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research has similar findings but this one focused on aromatherapy massage [14].

A total of 80 female students were randomly divided to receive two kinds of massage therapy [14].

The first group received massage with lavender oil and the other massage with placebo oil [14].

By the end of the experiment, it was concluded that aromatherapy massage was more effective than the placebo oil in alleviating primary symptoms of dysmenorrhea [14].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Combine the two oils.
  2. Put a small amount on the abdominal area.
  3. Gently massage.
  4. Inhale remaining oil.
  5. Repeat remedy twice a day for one week.

4. Basil

There are many uses for basil—as a culinary herb, flavoring agent, ornamental garnish, and of course, as an herbal remedy [15].

Its medicinal value can be attributed to its high concentration of phenolic compounds [15].

These active compounds can help treat and prevent a wide array of health problems.

Traditionally, basil has been used to treat headaches, inflammation, common cold, poisoning, malaria, stomach problems and heart disease [16].

With its antinociceptive mechanisms, basil can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort brought about by menstrual cramps [17].

It has been proven in a 2011 study performed by Brazilian researchers that basil has the ability to block the signals of pain in the brain [17].

Basil appears to inhibit the biosynthesis of mediators of pain, which include prostacyclins and prostaglandins [17].

Simply put, even if you’re in pain, you’re not going to feel it because the herb’s active compounds will prevent the transmission of messages of pain to your brain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of basil leaves
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Crush basil leaves.
  2. Add to hot water.
  3. Cover and steep for 15 to 30 minutes.
  4. Drink the solution three times a day to relieve pain.

5. Fennel

heartburn-fennel-seedsFor many years, fennel has been used to promote menstrual flow, increase sexual drive, aid in childbirth, and boost milk supply for nursing mothers [18].

Those who are suffering from menstrual cramps can also find relief using this remedy.

It has been confirmed in many clinical experiments that fennel works in decreasing pain caused by dysmenorrhea [19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24].

In one of these studies, a group of scientists from Iran evaluated the effects of fennel and mefenamic acid on high school girls with menstrual pain [20].

Half of them received fennel extract while the other half was treated with mefenamic acid [20].

Fennel’s efficacy was slightly higher than that of mefenamic acid, with 80 percent of the fennel users reporting great relief while only 73 percent of the mefenamic users showed pain decrease [20].

In another study, 50 young girls with dysmenorrhea were instructed to take either 30 mg of fennel capsule or a placebo four times a day for three days [22].

There was a significant difference noted between the two groups, with those taking fennel capsules experiencing a much higher pain relief than those who consumed the placebo [22].

Experts explain that fennel works by reducing contractions in the uterus [24].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Recommended Directions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Transfer hot water to a cup.
  3. Add fennel seeds to the cup of water.
  4. Steep for 30 minutes.
  5. Strain the seeds.
  6. Add honey.
  7. Drink the tea twice a day for three to four days.

6. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is more than just a sweetener that makes desserts more palatable.

It can also be used to treat many illnesses, including dysmenorrhea.

According to a study conducted by Korean researchers in 2012, cinnamon is one of the essential oils used for aromatherapy massage that caused significant reduction in menstrual pain [25].

Female high school students with period cramps were randomized to receive either acetaminophen, or an aromatherapy massage using a blend of cinnamon, ginger, marjoram, geranium and clary sage [25].

Surprisingly, reduction of pain was more noticeable in the aromatherapy massage group than in the other group [25].

Clinical data reveals that it works better than acetaminophen in providing pain relief in dysmenorrhea [25].

Since it remains unclear whether it’s the massage or the aromatherapy oils that caused the beneficial effects, a more thorough and specific study should be done to verify the findings [25].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 glass of hot water
  • 3 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 2 drops of geranium oil
  • 2 drops of clary sage oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Mix cinnamon powder and honey to water.
  2. Drink three times a day during your period.
  3. Combine the essential oils in a glass jar with lid.
  4. Shake to blend.
  5. Apply a thin layer of oil blend on your abdominal area.
  6. Massage gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Repeat remedy twice a day for one week or until menstruation lasts.

7. Rosemary Oil

back-pain-Rosemary oilDuring the ancient times, rosemary was placed in babies’ cradles to protect them from harm [26].

While there’s no scientific proof to this particular folkloric use of rosemary, this herb has been proven beneficial in many other health-related issues including colic, respiratory ailments, and dysmenorrhea [26].

Rosemary works by preventing pain signals from being transmitted to the brain.

Its antinociceptive actions have been verified in several studies [27, 28].

These studies made use of animal subjects induced with pain to show how effective rosemary is as a pain reliever.

Both show remarkable results but further trials on humans, preferably on female subjects with dysmenorrhea are necessary to validate the results [27, 28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of rosemary oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Combine rosemary and olive oils.
  2. Spread a thin layer of oil mixture on the abdomen.
  3. Gently massage painful area.
  4. Do this once or twice a day for three to four days.

8. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is said to be one of the oldest and most widely researched herbal remedy [29].

In Germany, it is licensed as a treatment for depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders [30].

However, these are not all that this herb can do, it can also treat many other kinds of illnesses, including the pain caused by dysmenorrhea.

In a study performed in the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, it was found that women who used St. John’s Wort experienced great improvement in symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) [31].

St. John’s wort was administered to some of the 19 female participants who have been diagnosed with PMS [31].

A success rate of 50 percent was recorded from the study [31].

It was also noted that the herb was well-tolerated by the users, and that there were no adverse reactions afterwards [31].

Another study also done in the UK released similar findings, indicating that daily intake of this herb worked more effectively than the placebo in alleviating not only physical but also behavioral symptoms that occur before the menstrual period [32].

Examples of behavioral symptoms are depression, anxiety, impulsivity and aggression [32].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 teaspoons of dried St. John’s wort
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  1. In a pot, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add St. John’s wort.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. Strain the tea.
  6. Drink the solution every night before sleeping.

9. Parsley

Most people look at parsley and see nothing but a handful of leafy greens to garnish their meals.

What many do not know is that it actually has beneficial effects on the body.

Parsley is an efficient antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, carminative and gastroprotective agent that can treat urinary disease, gastrointestinal problems, and dysmenorrhea [33].

An experimental study also shows that parsley leaves have strong analgesic and antinociceptive properties that can give relief to those complaining of period cramps [34].

Using parsley is a quick and inexpensive way to get rid of pain during menstruation.

Like most of the remedies listed here, this one also doesn’t have any unpleasant side effects to worry about.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley
  • 1 cup of hot water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Add parsley to hot water.
  2. Wait for 15 minutes for the tea to steep.
  3. Strain the tea and drink it twice a day until pain is relieved.

10. Flaxseed

Chewing on flaxseeds can be beneficial for those who can no longer tolerate menstrual pain.

For many years, scientists have been greatly interested in the biological activities of flaxseeds, which are attributable to their high amount of phenolic compounds [35].

Apart from being a good source of antioxidants, flaxseeds are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which according to one study, can help relieve discomfort caused by painful menstruation [36].

In a 2016 study, it was reported that flaxseeds can also tone down the amount of bleeding during menstruation [37].

Excessive bleeding during menstruation not only leads to more pain but also to greater discomfort and even anemia [37].

This is why, it helps to control bleeding with the use of flaxseeds [37].

Results show that intake of 25 grams of flaxseed daily for two menstrual cycles was enough to minimize menstrual bleeding [37].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds

Recommended Directions:

  1. Chew flaxseeds each time pain is felt.
  2. Do this for four to five days or until menstrual period is over.

11. Exercise

exercise-lockjawMany people believe that exercise can help alleviate menstrual pain, and at the same time, uplift the mood of women going through their menstruation.

There’s scientific evidence to back up this claim.

In 2006, 150 high school female students with severe cases of dysmenorrhea were divided into exercise and non-exercise groups [38].

It was observed that the intensity of pain was greatly reduced in the group of girls who did the recommended exercise program [38].

Researchers who did this study also noted that the use of sedative tablets made this particular remedy even more effective [38].

What You’ll Need:

  • 30 minutes a day

Recommended Directions:

  1. Engage in aerobic exercises 30 minutes a day during your menstrual period.
  2. Do not engage in exercises that are too strenuous as this may aggravate your symptoms.

12. Warm Compress

For years, people have been using warm compress to treat all sorts of pain.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this remedy also works for pain and discomfort during menstrual period.

A 2012 study confirms the efficacy of heat therapy as treatment for period cramps [39].

In this experiment, 15 female students were treated with either warm compress or effleurage technique [39].

Effleurage is a massage technique using gentle massage strokes, typically performed before deep tissue massage [40].

Research reveals that both methods were highly effective in reducing the severity of menstrual pain [39].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer hot water to a bowl.
  4. Soak towel to the water.
  5. Wring out
  6. Chew flaxseeds each time pain is felt.
  7. Do this for four to five days or until menstrual period is over.

Don’t let period cramps get in the way of your daily activities.

Feel better with the help of these home remedies that are simple to put together.

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