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What are Natural Menstrual Cramp Relievers?

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Updated August 15, 2013

Question: What are Natural Menstrual Cramp Relievers?
Answer: If you are one of the millions of women who experience pain during your period, you’ll want to know what you can do to help relieve menstrual cramps naturally. One of my favorite ways to reduce discomfort is placing a heating pad on the lower abdomen, just below the belly button.
See: How to Make Your Own Heating Pad

Other self-help measures include taking warm baths or showers, drinking warm beverages, and giving yourself a light massage by making circular motions with your fingertips around your lower abdomen. Make sure to schedule free time for yourself to relax and take care of yourself during the time of the month when you expect your periods.

Eating light, frequent meals and following a diet that is rich in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) and low in salt, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine also helps reduce painful menstruation for some women. It’s especially important for women who experience bloating or fluid retention during menstruation to lower their salt consumption, since excess salt intake can cause fluid retention.

Regular physical activity works wonders at reducing many of the symptoms of PMS, including menstrual cramps. If you’re under stress, like many of us are, you might also want to learn to distress and relax your body and mind through meditation or yoga.

If these self-care strategies don't work, you might consider using anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, which are available without a prescription. These drugs are known to provide effective relief from painful menstrual cramps.

If you have PMS as well as menstrual cramps, you may want to try taking supplements such as vitamin B complex, essential fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium. The following supplemental amounts are in addition to the amount in a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, which all women should take regularly:

  • 1200 mg of calcium in two divided doses
  • 250 mg of magnesium
    (If you experience constipation or diarrhea while taking magnesium, talk to your doctor. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of magnesium you take.)
  • Supplemental vitamin B6 varies from 50 to 200 mg
  • 50 mg of vitamin B1
Fish oil capsules may be helpful for women who have PMS, as well as menstrual cramps. Fish oil capsules contain the essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The recommended schedule for fish oil capsules is 1000 mg of EPA and 700 mg of DHA, taken in two divided daily doses for two months. You should always take vitamin E supplement when supplementing with fish oil capsules.

Finally, some women find it helpful to keep their knees bent whenever they are lying down, which reduces the stretching of the pelvic muscles. If you sleep on your back, use a pillow under your knees to keep your legs bent. If you’re a side sleeper, try holding a pillow pressed to your lower abdomen with your knees bent.

Things to Know About Menstrual Cramps
What Causes Menstrual Cramps
When to See Your Doctor About Menstrual Cramps
Medical Treatments for Menstrual Cramps

Source:

Painful Menstrual Periods; Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003150.htm; accessed 05/21/08. Cyclic Perimenstrual Pain and Discomfort: Nursing Management. Evidence Based Clinical psPractice Guideline; http://www.guidelines.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=7199&nbr=004302; accessed 06/23/08

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