Just a few months ago, I sat wide awake in the middle of the night frustrated. I had been experienced crippling pain for some time and I was just over it. Of course, I was used to menstrual pain. I started my cycle around nine years old, so I was no stranger to it. Yet, somehow, the pain that I was experiencing in the last few months was unlike anything I had experienced before. I tried every brand of painkiller I could find and nothing worked. I would take four to six pills a day hoping that it could somehow alleviate some of my pain. But still, nothing.
As if the cramps weren’t bad enough, I also experienced extreme nausea, unusual fatigue, heavier bleeding, and a prolonged period.
At times, the sum of all of it left me feeling as if I was going to pass out. I had no idea what to do. It caused irrational worries to fill my mind. What if something was wrong with my reproductive health? What if it was a sign that I’d struggle to have children in the future? Would I always be severely compromised just because it was “that time of the month”?
I didn’t want that. But, I also didn’t want any of the solutions most doctors would prescribe. I didn’t want to be put on birth control because I knew how horrible it could end up being for my overall health. So, I started to do my own research on holistic methods for reducing period cramps.
The first article I found said that severe menstrual cramps were an indication that something was going wrong in a woman’s body. It was simply a signal that something needed to be changed. I found testimonials from other women who completely eliminated their menstrual cramps. Honestly, I wondered if I could ever have that kind of experience. I figured I’d give it a shot. I didn’t want to spend my life consuming painkillers any way, and if I could find a natural remedy it would be totally worth it.
It took over six months of trial and error but I did it. Well, mostly. I haven’t eliminated my cramps completely but I’ve reduced them significantly. The little pain I feel now is barely anything compared to what I used to experience. I feel so much better. Keep reading and I’ll show you exactly what I learned and what actions I took to eliminate my cramps.
I learned that hormones play a huge role
Prostaglandins are the hormones responsible for uterine contractions that cause period pain. Prostaglandins are not bad, they’re actually necessary for our bodies to fight injury, infection, disease, and respond to stress. Without prostaglandins our bodies would not be able to expel the uterine lining each month.
Long story short, too much production of prostaglandins produce extreme menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea. Too much prostaglandin production causes inflammation. Inflammation is good for our bodies but too much can spin out out of control and cause more harm than good. It may lead to arthritis, chronic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, and painful menstrual cramps.
Food is also really important
Okay, so now I knew prostaglandins were the most likely culprit but I had no idea what caused so much of them to be produced. After doing some more research, I learned that it was all about what I was eating.
There are certain foods that can trigger prostaglandin production. And of course, they trigger it because they are linked to inflammation. Many of these foods were guilty pleasures of mine. They aren’t all necessarily bad but too much of them can cause issues. They include foods with added sugar, dairy, vegetable oils, grains, fatty meats, alcohol, and caffeine.
The solution? Change the food I was eating and reduce inflammation
Clearly my solution was simple. Not necessarily easy but simple for sure. I would have to be more mindful of the foods I was eating. It makes sense because my sugar cravings were a bit out of control in the summer, around the time that I noticed severe menstrual cramps. Personally, I didn’t eliminate added sugar or dairy completely, I just kept it in moderation and made sure to have even less of it when I knew I was approaching the middle of my cycle.
Instead of having foods that cause high inflammation, I opted for foods that were high in fiber. I ate more fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Anti-inflammatory supplements, herbs, and teas
Next, I decided to look into anti-inflammatory supplements, herbs, and teas. I’m pretty big on teas and supplements so I was completely open to trying new ones that could help me.
Turmeric was a big help. I drank turmeric tea and took turmeric supplements once to twice daily.
I was already taking maca root for energy and to keep my hormones balanced so I started taking it more consistently. If you don’t know, Maca is a superfood that has many incredible health and wellness benefits. If you take nothing else, definitely take Maca. It balances hormones, helps the body fight stress, boosts energy and stamina, and is a great anti-inflammatory food.
Finally, I started drinking more green and black tea. Both of these teas have a high flavonoid content that helps to reduce inflammation over time.
Other teas and herbs that help menstrual cramps
I also wanted to mention some other herbs and teas that really help with alleviating menstrual cramps. To my knowledge, they might not be associated with decreasing inflammation but they are known for alleviating pain. I mentioned earlier that I still do have some pain. When I want to alleviate pain without painkillers, I drink Raspberry Leaf Tea, Peppermint Tea, and lately, I’ve been drinking Tulsi Holy Basil Rose Tea.
Raspberry Leaf Tea is high in magnesium, one of the essential vitamins we need for a healthy cycle. It also helps to fight nausea, which I personally struggled with during my cycle. Lastly, it is known for reducing menstrual pain. You can pick up a box of Raspberry Leaf Tea from amazon or your local grocery store. Personally, I use the Traditional Medicinals brand and it works really well for me.
Next, I drink Peppermint Tea. Overall, peppermint is known as a great pain reliever. I also take Peppermint Oil Capsules to help the pain.
Finally, Tulsi Holy Basil Rose Tea is known to relieve menstrual pain as well. It’s also very calming and soothing, the perfect cup to relax you when you’re feeling any kind of pain or discomfort. You can read more about rose tea here:
I had to learn how to manage my personal stressors
So, this isn’t food related but it’s super important. Don’t underestimate the power of stress to contribute to severe menstrual cramps. Our bodies are incredibly designed to react to potentially stressful situations. If you’re under a lot of stress, your body might be reacting to protect itself. I’m not saying to get rid of your stressors because that isn’t always possible. Life brings all kinds of stress every day. The key is to learn how to manage it.
I used to be so horrible at managing my stress. I was always overwhelmed. But, I’ve learned a few things. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Have a consistent bedtime and limit your screen time at night. Even if you have a lot on your plate, schedule in intentional time to unwind. Avoid caffeine because it can definitely heighten your stress levels. Practice relaxation methods such as deep breathing, journaling, listening to calming music, or meditating. Most importantly, focus on your prayer life. We tend to want to do things on our own but honestly, giving our stress to God helps so much.
Heating pads and hot showers
You probably already know this but heat seriously helps to alleviate menstrual pain. Try taking a hot shower with your favorite calming body wash. I personally love lavender. It’s so relaxing. If you’re on the go, consider wearing a heating pad to reduce your pain. Honestly, while I was on this journey, I didn’t have any heating pads so I grabbed a few hand and toe warmers and used them as a substitute!
The truth is, your menstrual pain is manageable. I know it might feel like there’s no solution but there is. You’ll be okay and this will get better. Try out some of the techniques I mentioned. If they don’t work at first, don’t be discouraged, they might take some time. But, whatever you do, don’t give up. You’ll get through this.
If you’ve been here before and you have solutions, please share in the comments below. I’d love to learn about new techniques and I’m sure anyone reading along would appreciate more resources to help them eliminate their menstrual cramps.