If you've ever moaned in pain from monthly misery, you already know that most women need natural remedies for menstrual cramps (or PMS) at one time or another. While some of us are luckier than others, almost all of us go through times in our lives when the cramps are especially strong.
The Two Kinds Of Menstrual Cramps
The medical name for menstrual cramps is a tongue-twisting "dysmenorrhea".
* Primary dysmenorrhea is experienced by young women in their teens and early twenties. The cramps usually get milder after the age of 25 or after childbirth.
* Secondary dysmenorrhea is diagnosed when there is another identifiable cause of the cramps, such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis or use of an IUD for birth control.
If you think you might have secondary dysmenorrhea because your cramps now are worse than they used to be, see your doctor because there might be a reason for this. On the other hand if you are under 25 or have always suffered badly from cramps, you probably just need something to get through the pain and discomfort. Nobody can afford to spend two days in bed every month – unless your family feels sorry for you and waits on you hand and foot. In that case … :-)
Over-The-Counter-Remedies For PMS
The home remedies for menstrual cramps that most women try first are over-the- counter pain relievers (OTCs) like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Usually these will help but a lot of women do not like to take them due to the possible side effects.
The severity of the cramps is often affected by hormones so taking birth control pills solves the problem for many people their side effects are even stronger than the OTCs above.
Natural Remedies For Menstrual Cramps
1. Heat: one of the best natural remedies for menstrual cramps is warmth. This relaxes the internal muscles that are cramping. Take a hot bath or place a heating pad over the painful area.
2. Vitamins and minerals: sometimes supplementing with certain vitamins or minerals will ease the cramps. Zinc, calcium and B vitamins have helped many women. If you try these, you won't get immediate relief but your symptoms might subside in 2-3 months.
3. Herbal remedies: all of these have been helpful for some women:
- Cramp bark: as its name suggests, cramp bark is a muscle relaxant that eases simple uterine cramps. If it does not work, it's usually because the misery isn't due to muscle spasm but to 1) inflammation or irritation of the uterus or ovaries, 2) endometrial infection or 3) cysts.
- Squaw vine: not only relieves cramps, but it's helpful for women who are about to give birth. For centuries, women took squaw vine for several weeks before their due date.
- Blue cohosh: this is the same herb as squaw vine, mentioned above, but the name is more familiar to us today. It has an antispasmodic effect on cramps. Its value is even recognized by traditional medicine and it's listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia which is defined as the "… book containing directions for the identification of samples and the preparation of compound medicines, and published by the authority of a government or a medical or pharmaceutical society."
- Cimicifuga racemosa is also known as black cohosh. Native American medicine included this helpful plant as an aid for menopause, in particular and it is known to possess analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Evening primrose oil: this oil, high in essential fatty acids (EFAs), is commonly used for both PMS and arthritis treatment.
- Viburnum prunifolium: is a familiar plant to many gardeners and is used almost exclusively for gynecological conditions like menstrual cramps, menopause and recovery from childbirth.
4. Exercise: yoga or pilates workouts that strengthen your core muscles are especially helpful. Exercise should be regular but gentle yoga and relaxation techniques can be practiced even when the pain is strong. Any activities that reduce stress can be effective home remedies for menstrual cramps.