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11 Best Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

February 1, 2024
Clinically reviewed by Dr. Mary Oleksowicz

Essential Takeaways

  • Menstrual cramps may have a variety of causes and other symptoms, and sometimes can even interfere with daily life and upcoming plans.
  • There are natural remedies and strategies for alleviating menstrual cramps.
  • You can access a personalized herbal medicine plan through Qi Health.

Too often, menstrual cramps are not taken seriously by society, yet they can be life-altering for countless women.

Especially for those who experience extreme pain or are forced to miss out on family events, social happenings, or work commitments due to period cramps, it’s natural to search tirelessly for remedies for your menstrual cramps.

This article will review some great menstrual pain remedies you can try at home, from the best herbs to take menstrual cramps to diet changes and specific exercises.

What Exactly are Menstrual Cramps?

The vast majority of people with uteruses have experienced menstrual cramps, but what exactly are they? Menstruation is the part of the menstrual phase in which the uterus sheds its lining, which releases blood and tissue from the uterus. In order to carry out this shedding, blood vessels and muscles in the uterus need to contract.

This is what can cause painful cramps, which you might feel in your abdomen or even your lower back. Menstrual cramps can feel different from month to month or from person to person. While one woman might just feel a bit uncomfortable, another might have to miss social events and work due to the pain of menstrual cramps.

Why Women Get Menstrual Cramps

In order to get the uterine muscles to contract and prompt the shedding of the uterine lining, the body releases prostaglandins. These are similar to hormones, and women with higher levels of them often experience more severe cramping and a heavier flow during their period.

Other conditions that can contribute to more painful menstrual cramps include:

  • Endometriosis, in which uterine-like tissue grows outside of the uterus around other organs
  • Uterine fibroids, which are growths on the uterine wall
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection which is usually caused by sexually transmitted infections
  • Adenomyosis, in which uterine tissue grows into muscular walls
  • Cervical stenosis, in which the cervix opening is too small

Anyone experiencing severe symptoms should talk with their doctor to determine whether underlying health conditions might be causing these side effects. Unfortunately, for many of these conditions such as endometriosis, there are no proven and reliable treatments available yet.

In many cases, the best remedies for menstrual cramps are lifestyle shifts and customized herbal medicine.

Common Side Effects of Menstrual Cramps

The condition of experiencing severe menstrual cramps is often called dysmenorrhea. Unfortunately, in many cases, menstrual cramps are accompanied by additional health concerns and symptoms.

Many women with dysmenorrhea also experience the following side effects before and during menstruation:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the legs and back
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Fainting

Menstrual cramps and the other frustrating symptoms that often accompany them can easily derail your plans and put a damper on your everyday life. Fortunately, there are natural ways to soothe and reduce these symptoms.

The Best Remedies For Menstrual Cramps

Because half of the population spends a week out of every month grappling with painful menstrual cramps, it’s frustrating that there are not many remedies for menstrual cramps.

Over-the-counter pain medications can temporarily ease symptoms, but these come with their own set of side effects and warnings. Many people desire natural remedies for menstrual cramps.

The following strategies can help provide period pain relief.

1. Chinese Herbs

herbs for menstrual cramps

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With the right blend of high-quality Chinese herbs, many people finally find relief from menstrual cramps and can enjoy a pain-free period. Herbs like chamomile have antispasmodic compounds that can ease cramping, while others have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties or promote a healthier hormonal balance.

It’s important to note that the optimal blend of herbs for each person will vary based on health history, specific symptoms, other medications, and additional conditions. Plus, finding reliable brands of herbs can be difficult since herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

That’s where Qi Health comes in. Qi Health makes it easy to meet with a certified Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor to discuss your symptoms and goals. Then, the doctor will create a completely personalized herbal medicine plan to respond to your specific needs.

You’ll then be able to purchase high-quality, lab-tested, natural herbs directly from the Qi Health herbal pharmacy. Going forward, you’ll hop on a call periodically with your Chinese Medicine doctor to check in about your progress and adjust your custom herbal blend as needed.

Benefits:

  • Relieve pain without the risks and side effects of over-the-counter drugs.
  • Reduce cramping naturally using herbs with antispasmodic compounds.
  • Address other menstrual health concerns with a customized herbal blend from Qi Health.

Book your consultation today!

2. More Sleep

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Rest is essential to helping the body recover and complete the natural processes it needs to go through during menstruation. Especially because many people experience fatigue during their period, getting great sleep is essential for a more comfortable period.

It may also help to sleep in the fetal position, as this position can help relax the muscles of the abdomen.

Benefits:

  • Relieve tension in abdominal muscles
  • Support the body's natural processes
  • Promote healing
  • Combat fatigue

3. Acupuncture

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Studies suggest that acupuncture can reduce menstrual cramps even more effectively than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This treatment method involves a trained professional inserting very thin needles into specific points in the body, stimulating the nerves and tissue.

Benefits:

  • Reduces pain
  • Relieves stress
  • Promotes healing

4. Heating Pad or Warm Compress

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Applying a warm compress, heating pad, or a heated (but not too hot) water bottle or towel to your abdomen or lower back can relieve menstrual cramping. Some doctors suggest that this remedy works by distracting the nerve pathways, thus reducing pain. Drawing a hot bath can have a similar effect.

Benefits:

  • Distracts nerve pathways to reduce pain
  • Relaxes muscles in the abdomen and back

5. Dietary Changes

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Optimizing your nutrition habits by opting for an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce menstrual cramps. Look to balance the amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids you consume.

This type of diet includes plenty of nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and lean meats. To avoid inflammatory foods, it’s often best to steer clear of processed foods and red meat during your period.

Benefits:

  • Reduces prostaglandins, which can cause cramps
  • Balances vitamins and nutrients
  • Reduces inflammation

6. Reduce Stress

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Stress can make period symptoms more severe. Especially if painful menstrual cramps are getting in the way of your everyday life, it can feel difficult not to be stressed as a result.

However, you can work to interrupt this vicious cycle by practicing self care, taking time to rest, and minimizing the stressful activities you engage in during your period.

Benefits:

  • Calms the mind
  • Reduces tension in the body

7. Essential Oils

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Using essential oils for aromatherapy or applying them to the skin are both common home remedies for menstrual cramps. Essential oils like lavender and cinnamon can be used as massage oil on the abdomen to reduce the pain of menstrual cramps and decrease inflammation.

The scent of essential oils can also help relieve stress, further helping you relieve cramping. Keep in mind that essential oils are not meant to be ingested and some can pose risks to pets.

Benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Relieves pain
  • Decreases inflammation

8. Stay Hydrated

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Drinking plenty of water can help reduce bloating while also addressing the pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps. Avoid diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, and make a point to carry a water bottle during your period and in the days leading up to it.

Every person’s water needs will differ, but many healthcare professionals recommend drinking about 64 ounces each day. To pack an even better cramp-fighting punch, drink hot water with lemon and ginger.

Benefits:

  • Reduces bloating
  • Prevents headaches
  • Decreases pain and discomfort

9. Exercise or Yoga

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While it might not sound appealing, moving your body can help relieve period cramps. A brisk walk, a quick yoga session, simple stretches, or a swim can all get endorphins flowing and make you feel better.

Cycle tracking can also help you choose the best exercises for your menstrual phase at any time of the month. Exercise can help distract you from menstrual pain and can boost your mood. Yoga can also help you bring your stress levels down and facilitate better sleep.

Benefits:

  • Improves mood
  • Produces endorphins
  • Boosts overall health
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases stress

10. Over-the-Counter Medications

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Over-the-counter medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a common remedy for menstrual cramps. These help reduce the prostaglandins and other chemicals in the body that play a role in painful menstrual cramps and inflammation. Used in moderation, they usually do not have serious risks.

Unfortunately, relying on them on an ongoing basis for menstrual pain management could put you at risk of stomach ulcers and other side effects.

Benefits:

  • Prevents production of inflammatory chemicals
  • Eases pain quickly

11. Meditation

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Meditation is known to reduce stress, help you sleep, and promote feelings of calm. It’s also been found to change the experience of pain to make it more bearable and even reduce pain overall. Meditating before and during your period is a natural and healthy way to cope with and alleviate menstrual pain.

Benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Aids sleep
  • Reduces pain

More Information About Menstrual Cramp Remedies

Dig into some commonly asked questions about remedies for menstrual cramps.

What is the best thing for menstrual cramps?

Every person and every body is different. What works to relieve one person’s pain might not work for the next. It’s best to combine many of the strategies above and consider keeping a journal detailing your symptoms.

This way, you can identify the strategies that work best for you and have a positive impact on your period overall.

How do you get immediate relief from period cramps?

The most common remedies for immediate relief from period cramps include over-the-counter pain medications, massages with essential oils, and heating pads. Trying these approaches to pain relief may get you the quickest results, but other strategies like customized herbal medicine and regular exercise often yield the best long-term relief from menstrual cramps.

Are menstrual cramps normal?

The vast majority of people with uteruses experience menstrual cramps. While most of them only experience mild cramps, about 15% of women report being in so much pain that they can’t carry out their daily routine during their period.

While menstrual cramps are statistically normal, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be effective treatments and home remedies to make your period more comfortable.

What drink stops period cramps?

Staying hydrated works wonders for reducing period cramps, so finding drinks that don’t contain caffeine or alcohol and drinking plenty during your period is helpful overall. For an even more targeted approach, consider drinking teas that contain chamomile, turmeric, and other herbs for menstrual cramps.

Making smoothies out of leafy greens and fruits with plenty of vitamin C may also ease your pain and improve your overall health.

How do you stop period cramps?

Work to incorporate a mix of the remedies above, making note of which strategies yield the best results for you. The best way to stop period cramps will vary from person to person, so a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be effective.

That’s why at Qi Health, our certified Chinese Medicine doctors meet with every patient individually and curate a completely personalized herbal health plan to help you find relief from menstrual pain.

Are my menstrual cramps a sign of something else?

If you experience cramps that are worse than usual or that interfere with your daily life, it’s worth a visit to your doctor. In some cases, menstrual cramps are a symptom of other health conditions that might require additional attention, such as thyroids or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Ease the Pain with Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

You don’t have to rely on pain medicine for days every month, and you don’t have to suffer through life-altering pain. The natural remedies above can make a substantial difference in the way you experience your period. One of the most effective ways to reduce menstrual cramps is through customized herbal medicine for women’s health.

At Qi Health, certified Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors guide you through the entire process of discovering the best herbal medicine for your symptoms and goals. Beginning with a one-on-one consultation and continuing with follow-up appointments, your herbal medicine doctor will evaluate your progress and adjust your blend and dose as needed. No more playing guessing games with your health.

All Qi Health herbs are natural, lab tested, and high potency for the best possible results.

quote from Summer

Qi Health patient

By taking a blend of herbs that is specifically customized to your unique needs and health goals, you can finally find relief from menstrual pain.

Book your consultation today!

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