Period cramps

They force you to curl up in a ball, scream in pain and cling desperately to a hot water bottle. That’s right, I’m talking about period cramps.

I don’t know about you but painful cramps are what I dread most about my period. They make me feel miserable. I find the first day of my period the worst. To ensure I’m ready to take on the pain I plan a comfortable outfit and load up on pain relief.

Finding a natural alternative

I’ve tried for many years to get on with OTC pain relief. I did manage to find one brand that worked for me but as a fan of natural remedies, I thought to seek out alternatives. Turns out there are many natural remedies out there, you don’t need to rely on painkillers. I found articles recommending all sorts of food and supplements to ease menstrual cramps. From reading a TOTM blog from the archive I also knew that exercise was effective. I decided to put a few of these natural remedies to the test.

If you would love to try out natural pain relief for your period cramps, here’s a few that I would recommend (based on my experience):

Snack on pineapple

Fresh pineapple is not only delicious but it’s great for pain relief. Pineapples contain an enzyme called Bromelain which is an anti-inflammatory compound. It’s ideal for reducing swelling and painful discomfort. I gave it a go whilst at work (a risky move, I know). I snacked away on pineapple all afternoon in the office and my cramps eased off. Usually I would have to keep dosing up on medication. In this case, I relieved the pain without even having to pop a pill! I felt like I had unearthed a hidden secret.

Buy a fresh pineapple, cut in into squares and add portions to small Tupperware containers. That way you can enjoy at home or on the go for multiple days when on your period.

Brew up some peppermint tea

I got this tip from a friend but after researching I’ve discovered peppermint tea is a go-to for many women. When I first tried this out I was very skeptical. The story goes that I was at a friend’s house and got struck with pre-menstrual cramps. I didn’t have any of my usual pain relief with me and my friend didn’t have anything either! When my friend could only offer up peppermint tea I felt miserable. It turns out there was a lesson to be learnt. I enjoyed a warm mug of tea and to my surprise the cramps eased.

Peppermint tea relaxes constricting muscles which is why it’s effective for period cramps. I found out that it’s recommended to brew up 2 to 3 times a day on the lead up to menstruation and during to soothe cramps. If you work in an office this natural remedy is ideal. Keep a box in your desk draw and enjoy throughout the day!

The bathtub combo

It’s commonly known that heat is excellent for pain relief. That’s why a long soak in the bath is ideal for relieving period cramps. This tip is actually one of my tried and tested ‘go-to’ remedies. I remember I made the mistake a few years ago of wearing super skinny jeans all day when on my period. I got home from work and rolled around in pain with really bad cramps. After a long bath, I felt human again and the pain had eased off. I then dug out from my wardrobe a fluffy robe, a lounge-wear outfit and made up a hot water bottle. Let me tell you now, this combo is blissful. The heat soothes the pain, the robe keeps the heat in and comfy clothes give your body room to breathe.

Give it a go and make time to relax. Put your favourite oils in the bath, grab some comfy clothes and read your favourite magazine.

Prep for cramps before your period

On the build up to your period, there are changes you do can make to have a more pain-free period. Try cutting down on foods that disrupt hormonal balance. Avoid foods or drinks with caffeine and refined sugar. Salty foods can also cause uncomfortable bloating which can make cramps feel worse. I made the decision to swap from ‘normal’ green tea to decaf green tea a week before to see if that made a difference.

These are foods to avoid but you can also add to your diet. It’s also advisable to add more magnesium rich foods into your diet. This includes raw spinach, brown rice and (everybody’s favourite) avocado. I am planning to give this one a go this month (I’ll let you know how I get on).

What have I learnt?

In my experience, these natural remedies turned out to be highly effective. It’s changed my idea of what I consider to be ‘period essentials.’ It’s great to have options to mix it up and break the dependency on OTC painkillers. I hope these natural remedies will help you out next time you have painful period cramps!

If you have natural remedies to relieve period cramps, let us know in the comments below or tweet us @totmorganic.