Put down the ibuprofen. Here are all the natural remedies which reduce period pain instead
The pain of menstrual cramps are literally – scientifically – as bad as a heart attack. It’s official.
And despite the fact that most women carry on their lives as usual, undeterred by period pain, the fact remains that for many people it’s debilitating and leaves them in agonising pain for a week or so out of every month. While most of us can get by on chugging ibuprofen and powering through, there are some other, altogether more ~natural~ ways of coping with pain.
Probably don’t ditch the pharmaceuticals just yet, but some of these are at least worth a go.
Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
I know right. But apparently it’s good for the body. Yoga especially, has been shown to help relax the nervous system, relieve lower back pain, reduce legs and abdominal aches and generally calm your emotions. The key poses for menstrual yoga, if you want to get technical about it are Janu Sirsasana A (a head-to-knee forward bend), Pasasana (noose pose), Ustrasana (camel pose), and Supta Padangusthasana (reclining big toe pose).
Hot water bottle
When I was 12 this was my mum’s go to cure for period cramps and also every other bad thing that ever happened in life. Turns out though she had a point. Scientists have said that putting anything this warm on the skin can cure abdominal cramps in a similar way to pharmaceutical painkillers for up to an hour. Scientists from University College London found that the heat doesn’t just have a placebo effect, it actually blocks pain messages to the brain, albeit temporarily.
If warmth is applied at over 40 degrees where internal pain is felt, it actually switches on heat receptors at the site of the pain. These heat receptors go on to block the effect of chemical messengers which cause pain.
So thanks mum.
Ginger naturally works to reduce inflammatory pain and can also be a natural remedy for reducing nausea associated with period pain. A study from the University of Maryland Medical Centre found that it can be effective in reducing menstrual pain when taken twice or three times a day. Or alternatively: Ginger Nuts.
I know, I’m skeptical too. But supposedly it works: when we orgasm the body releases natural endorphins like oxytocin and dopamine, which can be helpful in reducing period cramps. And while there’s a stigma around having sex on your period, this is – thankfully – starting to disappear.
Anecdotally at least, it seems to work. One woman who answered babe’s sexual attitudes survey said: “It takes away pain and makes the period flow chill out and it’s not even that messy and it’s safe. Would recommend.”
Admittedly, sticking tiny needles all over your body to get rid of cramps can seem a little extreme, but hear me out. A South Korean study of 3,000 women found acupuncture to be as good as pharmaceuticals at relieving period pain, and in three of the trials, it was even found to be more effective. So there you go, acupuncture is better than drugs. Who knew.
Lavender is sort of a cure-all-ills type of essential oil for natural remedy fans. It relaxes you and also helps to cure muscle pains, which makes it a dream for relieving menstrual pain. Plus it smells lovely.
Craving chocolate on your period is so commonplace it’s the basis of many a cringe joke about PMSing women. But if you’re going to eat it, supposedly it’s all about eating the right type. Dark chocolate is lower in fat and dairy than the regular milk kind, but it also helps reduce muscle cramping, so good news all round really.
Basil with boiling water
This sounds a bit like a potion recipe, and feeling like a witch is never a bad thing, so – boil two tablespoons of basil with some water, stir well for five to seven minutes, then cover and leave it to cool for fifteen minutes. Supposedly you drink a half a cup of this concoction every hour and the pain completely disappears. Basil, you see, contains caffeic acid which has a natural analgesic or pain killing effect. It’s science (and witchcraft).
Vitamin D is a cure for many things, including menstrual pain. So get out of bed if at all possible. Probably not though.