There are a variety of menstrual cramp remedies that can help reduce menstrual pain: from certain foods to various exercises. However, it’s important to diagnose the cause of menstrual pain in order to find the best treatment.
It sounds odd, but drinking water keeps your body from retaining water and helps to avoid painful bloating during menstruation. Warm or hot water is usually better for cramps, as hot liquids increase blood flow to the skin and may relax cramped muscles. You can also eat water-based foods to increase your hydration, including:
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Calcium can help reduce muscle cramping during menstruation. The Mayo Clinic recommends 1,000 mg per day for women between the ages of 19-50. Foods high in calcium include:
- dairy products
- sesame seeds
- leafy green vegetables
Calcium is also available in supplement form. However, you should speak to your doctor before taking supplements to find out if it’s safe for you.
Cinnamon has long been used to relieve the congestion of colds and allergies, and as a digestive aid. Cinnamon may soothe menstrual cramps. Additionally, the spice provides an excellent source of dietary fibre, calcium, and iron, as well as manganese, which may also help relieve the symptoms of menstruation.
Ginger may alleviate symptoms of the common cold, the flu, headaches, and menstrual pain. Grate a small piece of ginger, add it to hot water, and drink for menstrual cramp relief.
Pawpaw contains carotene plus high amounts of vitamins C and A, as well as lower amounts of iron and calcium. This wonder fruit is low in calories and high in nutritional value; it is good for the skin, and also aids in digestion.
Poor nutrition can lead to deficiencies that can worsen menstruation symptoms, so stock up on foods packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. Such foods include the following:
- Brown rice (contains vitamin B6, which may reduce bloating)
- Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds; they are rich in manganese, and help to ease cramps
- Olive oil and broccoli (contain vitamin E)
- Chicken, fish, and leafy green vegetables (contain iron, which is lost during menstruation)
FOODS TO AVOID
During menstruation, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that cause bloating and water retention. Some of the biggest culprits include:
- Fatty foods
- Carbonated beverages
CUT THE CAFFEINE
Reducing or cutting caffeine can alleviate cramps and decrease tension. Rethink your morning cup of coffee or tea and forgo consuming chocolate and soda during menstruation. Instead, try soothing (caffeine-free) ginger or mint teas or hot water flavoured with lemon. If you need a sugar fix, snack on some tasty, juicy fruits.
Applying heat to your abdomen and lower back may relieve pain as effectively as medicine. If you don’t have a hot water bottle or heating pad, take a warm bath or use a hot towel. Or, you can make your own heating pad by following the instructions below:
- Cut and sew together two pieces of fabric, leaving a hole at the top.
- Fill with rice and sew up the hole.
- Microwave for a few minutes to desired temperature. Do not overheat!
- Let cool, if necessary. Or wrap rice bag in a towel to reduce heat transfer. Reuse as necessary.
The idea of intense exercise immediately before or during your period may make you cringe if you are experiencing painful cramps. However, exercise releases endorphins, which act as a natural painkiller and mood lifter.
Moderate activity such as walking can be beneficial during your period in place of more strenuous activity. Yoga is a gentle exercise that also releases endorphins and helps prevent or reduce menstrual symptoms. Other benefits include:
- increased blood flow to the reproductive organs
- stress relief
Note: During menstruation, experts say it’s best to perform restorative poses.