Do you cringe when your period's
coming because you can't stand the cramps
? You've got plenty of company. Many women seek relief from monthly cramps by taking over-the-counter painkillers or prescription drugs. But maybe your cramps aren't bad enough to send you rushing to the medicine cabinet. Or maybe your cramps really are
killing you, and you'd like to explore some options other than drugs. In either case, it's good to know that there are alternatives that may help ease the pain. back to top
What's more relaxing than sipping on a warm cup of herbal tea? Here are two herbs that have long been used for quieting cramps:
Strike a yoga pose
- Calm down with chamomile. People all over the world depend on chamomile tea to take the edge off a stressful day. Studies show that the active ingredients in this gentle herb help ease the spasms in your uterus that cause that crampy feeling. A typical "dose" for period cramps is two or three cups of chamomile tea a day. But because this herb works better the longer you use it, you may want to drink chamomile tea even when you don't have cramps. You can buy chamomile tea in supermarkets (make sure it's 100 percent chamomile) or in health-food stores. Fresh chamomile should smell kind of like apples. If it smells like hay it's past its prime.
- Reach for raspberry leaf. For centuries, raspberry leaf has been known as "women's tea," partly because it has a reputation for soothing period cramps. If you're buying raspberry leaf tea, make sure that raspberry leaf is the main ingredient. Some "raspberry tea" products are really black tea flavored with an oil that smells like raspberries. Raspberry leaf tea has no known side effects (although it is not recommended during pregnancy), so it's safe to try sipping two or three cups a day and see if your symptoms subside. back to top
When your monthly cramps come calling, do you get the urge to just curl up? For a more effective strategy, try practicing yoga
. Yoga stretches can help relax tense muscles and improve circulation to your abdomen and lower back—not to mention put you in a mellower mood. You can learn some poses
by checking out the articles here on iEmily. But to really enjoy the benefits of yoga, you'll probably want to practice it on a regular basis—not just when you've got cramps. back to top
Get the point?
When it comes to cramps, some people find relief by turning to the Eastern traditions of acupressure
. These ancient healing arts follow a belief that there's a flow of energy inside your body called qi
(pronounced "chee") which can become blocked and cause symptoms of poor health, including problems with your period. Stimulating certain points on your body—using either finger pressure or thin needles—is thought to unblock or stimulate that healing energy, allowing it to flow freely.
Unlike acupuncture—which is always performed by a professional—acupressure is a technique that you may be able to learn yourself. Oddly enough, two of the acupressure points that may reduce cramping are located far from your belly. One is on the inside of your leg above your ankle, and the other is on the top of your foot. To learn how to find and stimulate these acu-points, check out the iEmily article Acupressure: The Magic Touch
If your period cramps are a major problem, you may want to consider trying a few acupuncture sessions. In one recent study, the majority of teenage girls who had acupuncture for endometriosis
—a condition that causes painful periods—found their treatments "pleasant" and said that they helped them feel better. Talk to your health professional about this possibility. More and more doctors are referring patients to acupuncturists for this type of pain relief. back to top
Soothe the stress
When you're feeling crabby with cramps, stressful situations can leave you clutching your belly even more. While you can't always control the causes of stress
in your life, you can control your reaction to it. If period cramps are a problem, think about learning a reliable relaxation technique, such as breath control
, progressive relaxation
, or meditation. And then stick to it on a daily basis. Your crampy belly—and your overall health—will be sure to benefit. back to top