Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week so far. We’re at the halfway point to the weekend now!
Today I’d like to share some of my favorite all natural techniques for relieving menstrual cramps. I’ve used several of these techniques myself and they’ve worked wonders and others have been recommended to me by other ladies who have had great success with them. I hope some of them will work for you and will leave you with knowledge to share with your daughters and friends too. 🙂
Before I share the tips I wanted to share with you a brief history of my own personal journey with menstrual cramps.
I started menstruating at age 12, which I think is a normal age and what I hope for for my daughter. I know a girl who got her first period at age 9. This is so sad and, I believe, unnatural, but I’ll leave that topic for another post. (Google, if you like, about estrogens in our environment and food.)
All throughout high school and college I had terrible cramps (even while taking oral contraceptives, started in 2002). I mean bent over at the waist, moaning in pain kind of cramps. My mom was told by our doctor (I was around age 14) that I could go on the pill to help with periods, but my mom thought that would encourage me to have sex and said no. To be honest, now that I know what the pill does to us I’m glad I wasn’t allowed to take it at such a young age. Instead I was given ibuprofen. That’s it. No other options, no talk about self care from my doctor or mom, never told to slow down or take it easy or rest.
In college I would continue to take pain killers, but I also bought those Thermacare heat wraps meant for your neck/upper back and placed it over my lower abdomen. That was an even bigger relief than the painkillers. I wore them every month, even while waiting tables. I would sweat like crazy, but the relief was worth it!
When I finally came off oral birth control in early 2009 the extreme cramps, mood swings, and monthly depression stopped almost immediately. It was pretty miraculous. I haven’t been back on the pill since then. In fact, for the most part, my cramps are very unobtrusive and my periods are light, mainly due to the Mirena IUD I have placed right now. Back in 2011 I had my first one placed. My husband and I did not want to have another baby right away (our daughter was born in 2010) and Mirena seemed like the best option since there was no way I was going back on the pill.
My first Mirena up and quit working about 6 months before it’s expiration date. I had a very heavy, painful, and long-lasting period before I had the old one removed and a new one placed. During that long and painful period I immediately turned to natural remedies instead of ibuprofen. Which leads me to my first tip….
If you’ve never heard of this, I know what you’re thinking, “Molasses?? Isn’t that used in baking?”. And, yes, it is. But it works! I first heard about this
on Instagram. My sweet ass-kickin’ friend Katy mentioned that she takes 1 tablespoon of molasses at the first onset of cramps and within an hour they are gone. She likes to just dip a spoon in the jar and eat it directly, but I knew that wouldn’t be for me so I made it into a tea.
I’ll be upfront and say this “tea” is very sweet. There are 14g of sugar in 1 tbsp of molasses. More sugar than I like to consume unless I’m eating a treat, but this remedy really does work.
- 1 Tbsp unsulphered blackstrap molasses
- 8-12oz freshly boiled water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
Place the molasses, cinnamon, and cocoa powder into a coffee cup and pour the steaming hot water on top. Stir well and drink. My cramps were completely gone within 1 hour. Why does this work? To be honest, I’m not really sure! I do know that molasses is very high in iron, which we need when we are menstruating because we are loosing iron in our blood.
You should be able to find molasses at any grocery store in the baking section.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf tea helps to tone and strengthen the uterus. It also, “contains an alkaloid known as fragrine which can help strengthen the uterus as well as the pelvic area.” (SOURCE) Red raspberry leaf tea is also helpful for digestion.
I have read about pregnant women drinking the tea to help prepare the uterus for birth, but make sure to check with a qualified healthcare professional if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and wish to drink this tea.
If tea isn’t your thing, I’ve seen red raspberry leaf available in tincture form as well. I’m really partial to Herb Pharm products as I’ve used so many of their tinctures & glycerites with success. You can purchase the tincture here.
You should be able to find the tea (I prefer the Traditional Medicinals brand) at a health food or supplement store (Target might even carry it), but if not you can buy online here.
This is another one I’ve taken in tincture form. Cramp bark reduces uterine contraction and muscle spasms. It is also known to help with muscle cramps all over the body, not just centralized to the uterus.
If you’re curious, check out this post for more info. That post is very informative and well rounded.
If you decide you want to buy it in tincture form it should be found easily at a place like Whole Foods or another supplement store. As I mentioned before I really like Herb Pharm products so here is the link to buy their preparation.
As I wrote about before I used to place the disposable Thermacare wraps over my uterus. They have sticky bits on each end that adhere to the skin and stay in place very well. They also last for 8 hours so it was great for all day care. Now I’m not sure I would use something disposable so often as I just imagine them sitting in a landfill, but heating pads are a great option and also force us to sit still and rest.
Rest & Relax
This is perhaps the biggest and most important tip of all. Our bodies are working hard removing the uterine lining and they deserve a break! I don’t want to get into it with this post, but we in the Westernized world have really glossed over what used to be considered a sacred time where women took time away from their families and society to heal and be with other women. Even if that isn’t an option today we can all still take more time for us to rest and rejuvenate once a month. Some simple ideas for self care during this time…
- take a bath or extra long shower
- get a massage, either professional or just from your partner. If you don’t feel comfortable with a full body massage, how about just a nice foot rub?
- read a good book instead of watching TV
- have a cup of tea and a giggle (or cry) with a good friend
- go to bed early
- don’t plan social outings around your period and/or politely decline if invited
Yep, breathe. I don’t mean our automatic shallow breath, but deep, belly breathing. Sit in a quiet space where you can be as comfortable as possible. Place one hand over your lower abdomen, one hand on your chest and focus on your breathing. Breathe deep into the diaphragm and allow it to stretch out. Maybe even hold your breath for a few counts after you inhale fully and really allow your intercostal muscles and diaphragm to get a really yummy stretch.
Maybe you light a candle to do this or put some essential oils into a diffuser and really make it a great relaxation experience. Mmmmm…sounds so lovely I’m ready to do this now!
That’s all I have for you today! Do you have any tried and true home remedies for cramps? I’d love to read them! Share them in the comments below.