Is there anything worse than menstrual cramps? Okay, there probably is, but it definitely doesn’t seem like it when you’re feeling like Mother Nature’s just kicked you in the gut.
Luckily, you don’t have to rush straight for the medicine cabinet! Check out these five tips for relieving menstrual cramps naturally:
- Exercise. You may not feel like getting physical when you’re dealing with cramps, but studies show that exercise can relieve cramps by releasing beta-endorphins (basically feel-good chemicals). Exercise also helps burn the chemicals that cause muscle contractions more quickly, which means cramps clear up fast!
- Heat. For generations we’ve heard that heat can help with cramps, and in 2006, Dr. Brian King proved it. His study showed that applying heat to internal pains such as stomach aches and cramps can relieve the pain for up to an hour.
- Diet. What you eat makes a big difference in dealing with cramps. Instead of foods full of simple sugars and fats, which can make PMS symptoms worse, try nutrient-rich foods like turkey, whole-grain bread, flaxseed, and spinach, which can help prevent the inflammation that causes muscle contractions—the culprits behind cramps.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Even though alcohol is a diuretic, it can cause you to retain water during your period, which makes cramping worse. Tobacco has been shown to cause menstrual cycle irregularities. It’s best to cut back on alcohol to one or two servings a day and cut tobacco entirely out if you can.
- Reducing stress. Women self-reporting on their menstrual cycles and symptoms found that stress made their cramps worse during the first phase of the menstrual cycle. Stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, too.
When the menstrual cramps get bad, know that you’ve got a variety of natural options to fight back!