Menstrual cramps occur in most women at some point in their life. Some women experience only mild discomfort while others may have severe menstrual cramps that disrupt their daily life a few days each month. While you can take pain relievers to dull the pain, lifestyle changes and natural treatments may be more successful in relieving menstrual cramps on a consistent basis. Here are a few natural ways to relieve menstrual cramps.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Many women experience upset stomach, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea during their menstrual cycle which contributes to cramping. A healthy diet may help relieve some of these symptoms. Skip high-fat and greasy foods that can upset your stomach. The Mayo Clinic suggests adding more fiber in your diet through eating whole-grains, bran, vegetables and fruits. Fiber-rich foods will help keep your digestion regulated and relieve some of the causes of cramping.
Include Vitamins B and E and Magnesium in Your Diet
Studies have shown that vitamins B1, B6 and E, as well as the mineral magnesium, help to reduce menstrual cramps. Taking a daily B-complex and E supplement may do the trick but eating foods rich in these vitamins and mineral is an even better way to add them to your diet. Foods rich in B1 include fish, mushrooms, brown rich, whole grains and peas. Foods with B6 are peanuts, bran, turkey and potatoes. Vitamin E can be found in peanut butter, almonds, sunflower seeds and kiwi fruit. Foods containing magnesium include Brazil nuts, bran flakes, walnuts and cocoa powder.
Reduce Coffee and Soda
Coffee and soda contain caffeine which can contribute to making menstrual cramps worse. Caffeine raises your tension levels as well as constricts blood vessels which contribute to cramping. Also, sodas are carbonated, which contributes to upset stomach. Skip coffee and soda during your menstrual cycle and drink water, decaffeinated tea and non-acid fruit juice instead.
Continue Your Exercise Routine
You may not feel like getting out of bed and moving but exercise will actually help reduce cramping. Exercise gets your blood flowing, helps your intestinal system stay regular and releases endorphins in the brain which lift your mood. Walk, bike, run, swim or go to your regular gym or aerobics class. Your cramps will lessen and you will feel better.
Try Herbal Supplements
Two very common herbal supplements that help relieve menstrual cramps are black cohosh and valerian. Black cohosh reduces menstrual cramps by relaxing the muscles of the uterus. The recommended dose is 40 to 80 milligrams a day depending upon the severity of your cramps. Valerian is a mild pain reliever that is effective in relieving menstrual cramps as well as relaxing muscles and calming digestive upset. The recommended dose in tablet form is 300 milligrams. Because it has a mild sedative effect, it is recommended to take valerian before bedtime or when you know you won’t be leaving your home. Black cohosh and valerian can safely be taken together.
Menstrual cramps are a part of most women’s lives and finding ways to relieve them will differ from one woman to another. While menstrual cramps are common, in both the mild and severe forms, you should talk to your doctor if your cramps worsen or become uncharacteristically severe. Sometimes cramping is a sign of a more serious condition. In most cases, menstrual cramping can be reduced by trying one or more of the above mentioned natural treatments.
By Deanna Lynn Sletten