Menstrual cramps, or primary dysmenorrhea, are an uncomfortable part of life for many women. A majority of women experience varying degrees of period pain or dysmenorrhea, at some point in their lives. Most women suffer from menstrual cycle cramps i.e., discomfort and dull ache in their belly especially on the day their period starts. You may be craving fatty, sugary, or salty foods when you have your period, but these foods are not your friends. Skip the doughnuts and potato chips. Some women find that eating the right kinds of foods may help ease menstrual pain. Anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, blueberries, squash, tomatoes, and bell peppers are good choices.
To help reduce period pain, here are some safe and effective home remedies for cramps.
- Fruit: Water-rich fruits, such as watermelon and cucumber, are great for staying hydrated. Sweet fruits can help you curb your sugar cravings without eating a lot of refined sugars, which can cause your glucose levels to spike and then crash.
- Fennel: In one study, approximately 80% of young women who took capsules containing 30 mg of fennel extract 4 times a day for 3 days prior to the start of their menstrual period experienced less pain than those who took a placebo. Fennel extract may be a good option for the approximately 10 percent of women who can’t do their normal activities for 1 to 3 days during their periods due to severe menstrual cramps.
- Pycnogenol: It is a plant extract derived from the maritime pine tree found in the southwestern region of France. The extract contains several potent antioxidant compounds. In one study of women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old, those who experienced dysmenorrhea who took a supplement containing 60 mg of pycnogenol during their periods had significantly less pain and needed less pain medication compared to when they didn’t take the supplement.
- Use heat. Applying a heating pad, heat wrap, or hot water bottle to your abdomen works wonders for relieving menstrual cramps. You can find these items in the drugstore or online. The continuous application of heat may work as well as ibuprofen for the relief of dysmenorrhea pain. Heat helps muscles relax.
- Dill powder: Researchers tested the effectiveness of dill powder versus mefenamic acid, an NSAID, for the treatment of menstrual cramps in a group of young female students. Women were separated into 3 groups: the dill group, the mefenamic acid group, and the placebo group. Women started 5 days of treatment beginning from 2 days before the start of their menstrual periods.
- Calcium: It is a nutrient that everyone needs, but most women don’t get enough. We need calcium not just for healthy bones, but for proper function of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. Adequate calcium intake may also help relieve menstrual cramps. In a study of young women, those who took a supplement containing 1,000 mg of calcium per day beginning on day 15 of their menstrual cycle until menstrual pain stopped in the following cycle experienced less intense menstrual pain than those who took a placebo.
- Do exercise: Many women find that exercising helps relieve menstrual cramps. Exercise releases endorphins, brain chemicals that promote well-being. Whether you enjoy walking, running, or swimming, it’s safe to participate in all of these activities during your menstrual period.
- Herbal Treatment: Health practitioners may prescribe herbs to treat a woman’s menstrual cramps. Black cohosh, cramp bark, turmeric, and chasteberry are a few herbs that have been used. They are effective for pain relief and decreasing inflammation. Make sure your doctor knows about all of your medical conditions, medications, and supplements because herbs are not appropriate for every woman. Herbs may interfere with the action of some medications or decrease their effectiveness.
- Good Sleep: Sleep quality has an effect on menstrual symptoms and many health conditions. In one study, women who had insomnia reported more severe dysmenorrhea and more interference with daily activities due to symptoms compared to women who did not have insomnia. Practice good sleep hygiene to keep painful menstruation symptoms at bay. This involves going to bed at about the same time every night. Establish and stick to a nightly routine to give your body the signal that it’s time for sleep. The routine may involve things like listening to soothing music, enjoying a cup of tea, or taking a warm bath.
- Leafy green vegetables: It’s common to experience a dip in your iron levels during your period, particularly if your menstrual flow is heavy. This can lead to fatigue, bodily pain, and dizziness. Leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach can boost your iron levels. Spinach is also rich in magnesium.
- Ginger: A warm mug of ginger tea can improve certain symptoms of menstruation. Ginger has anti-inflammatory effects, which can soothe achy muscles.Ginger may also reduce nausea. Don’t consume too much ginger, though: Consuming more than 4 grams in one day could cause heartburn and stomachaches.
- Nuts: Most nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re a great source of protein. They also contain magnesium and various vitamins. If you don’t want to eat nuts on their own, try nut butters or nut-based milks or add these ingredients to smoothies.