Tackling menstrual cramps the natural way

For several women, the regular monthly discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the womb through the vagina is accompanied by excruciating pains generally known as menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea, are cramping aches and pains that typically affect the lower abdomen but may also radiate to the lower back and thighs. Thought to be caused by excess levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances linked to pain and inflammation), menstrual cramps often occur just before and during the first few days of a woman’s menstrual period. Some women also experience loose stools, headaches, nausea or dizziness.

There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.

Primary dysmenorrhea is another name for common menstrual cramps. Cramps usually begin one to two years after a woman starts getting her period. Pain usually is felt in the lower abdomen or back. They can be mild to severe. Common menstrual cramps often start shortly before or at the onset of the period and continue one to three days. They usually become less painful as a woman ages and may stop entirely after the woman has her first baby.

Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by a disorder in the woman’s reproductive organs. These cramps usually begin earlier in the menstrual cycle and last longer than common menstrual cramps. Though, for many women, menstrual cramps occur without an underlying health condition (such as endometriosis), these painful sensations that occur in the lower abdomen of a woman ranges from dull for some women, to annoying, in others and to severe and extreme in several others.

Studies have proven however, that certain plants and herbs are capable of providing immediate and long lasting relief from menstrual cramps. Here are some herbal medicines that are sometimes recommended by alternative medicine practitioners:

This warming herb may help ease cramps and soothe menstrual troubles by lowering levels of pain-causing prostaglandins as well as fight the fatigue commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome. Many women have found relief by grounding up a teaspoon of ginger, swallowing it, and drinking a glass of water right afterwards. Others recommend grounding up a teaspoon of ginger and bowling it in a cup of water and waiting until cooled for consumption. This is ideal for painful menstrual cycles. Taking ginger root powder days before the onset of a woman’s menstrual period and continuing through the first three days of the menstrual period helps to reduce, if not completely obliterate menstrual cramps.

This herb with a licorice-like taste and celery-like crunchy texture contains anethole (a compound with anti-spasm effects) that may help to ease menstrual cramps in some women. Chew on fennel seeds two days before you begin your menstruation. You could also make a concoction of fennel seeds and drink 200ml of it thrice a day. Prepare fennel infusion by boiling fennel in water. Fennel seeds are anti-spasmodic in nature and allow better contraction of the muscles in the uterus. This makes it easier for the blood to flow and also eases pain.

Include cinnamon in your daily diet. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over your non-vegetarian dishes and cakes and desserts. You can also add cinnamon to your cup of tea or prepare cinnamon tea and have three cups of it on the first day of your menstruation.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the swelling of the cervix caused due to presence of prostaglandin. The aroma of cinnamon also acts on the frayed nerves and thus reduces stress and anxiety.

Basil and parsley
Teas prepared using basil and parsley also help relieve the symptoms of menstruation. They help deal with pain and inflammation by soothing the muscles in the body. Add basil and parsley leaves to your food; you could also chew on the leaves of basil and parsley for immediate relief from menstrual cramping.

Banana Flower
Another natural remedy ideal for menstrual cramps involves cooking banana flower and eating the cooked banana flower with the curd. This home remedy for menstrual cramps is not only ideal for pain and discomfort, but it can also assist women with very heavy menstrual flows.


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