As women, we all know it, dread it, and are sometimes even thankful that we get it — I’m talking about our monthly period. We all know the constant throbbing and cramping pains that come with it. According to the Mayo Clinic, your uterus contracts to help expel its lining during your period. Hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins, which are involved in pain and inflammation, trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Higher levels of prostaglandins are therefore associated with more severe menstrual cramps. For some women, their cramps might even interfere with their work, school, and daily activities. About three out of four women experience menstrual pains, and every one out of 10 women experiences severe cramps.
To help you get through the monthly visit, here are some home remedies that ease menstrual cramps.
This might sound a little crazy and you might be thinking to yourself, I can barely move, let alone exercise. However, brisk walking, or any type of physical activity, can help to ease your belly pain. When you’re doing any type of aerobic exercise, your body is pumping more blood; this helps to release endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins and reduce your cramps. Exercising three to four times a week is good for the overall health of your body, but it is especially important if you’re prone to painful menstrual cramps.
2. Apply heat
Heat helps to relax the contracting muscles in your uterus, which is the cause for your pain. There are many over-the-counter heating patches and pads, such as ThermaCare, Bengay, or electric, reusable ones. Or, even taking a regular plastic bottle with hot water and applying it to your abdomen is an alternative when you don’t have access to a heating pad.
3. Drink chamomile tea
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry found that there might be pain-relieving properties in this fragrant tea. “This is one of a growing number of studies that provide evidence that commonly used natural products really do contain chemicals that may be of medicinal value,” said Elaine Holmes, Ph.D., a chemist with the Imperial College of London. The research found that when 14 participants were given urine samples, their urinary levels had a significant increase in hippurate, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory drugs help to decrease the prostaglandin production, thus relieving menstrual cramps.
4. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D
Prevention is always better than the cure, which is why making sure your body has enough vitamin D is important in preventing menstrual cramps. A study found that high doses of vitamin D3 led to a significant decrease in menstrual cramps. As reported by Health.com, “40 Italian women were split into two groups: one receiving a single oral dose of 300,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and the other getting a placebo five days before the expected start of their menstrual periods.” Their pain scored dropped by 41 percent, while those in the placebo group saw no change in their pain scale.
Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves sticking the skin with small needles to stimulate the body at certain points. Researchers from the Oriental Hospital at Kyung Hee University Medical Center in South Korea found that acupuncture might have positive effects on menstrual cramps. The study was based on 10 trials with 944 participants. “There was an improvement in pain relief from acupressure compared with a placebo control,” according to the study.