Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. Once a month you're besot with the arrival of that most wondrous (or monstrous) of human processes -- your 'friend.' But this is no bosom buddy. Like an unwanted guest, this 'friend' interrupts normal activity, but only if you let 'em. Don't let your cramps get the best of you!
Here are some natural remedies to help cure the achy blues:
DRINK ME-Spearmint tea (or its stronger-tasting brother, peppermint) helps reduce headaches and bloating. Other herbal teas, such as chamomile and raspberry, are also effective for soothing the muscles and eliminating mood swings. Herbs like cramp bark and dong quai can provide menstrual relief. Read more here and here.
-Ginseng tea. Ginseng is a muscle relaxant and is widely regarded as a cure-all 'panacea' in Chinese medicine. It is also used to promote energy and to cure sexual dysfunction in men (who knew?).
EAT ME-Low-fat vegetarian diet. Cut out the red meat, cheese and whole milk. Too much consumption of fatty foods triggers prostaglandin levels, resulting in increased estrogen and pain. Consider your colors: Green is your friend. Look for foods rich in magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B1 and calcium, which can be found in leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds. Avoid eating cold or watery foods, as these can induce muscular cramps.
-Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can either take the capsule or buy a bottle of fish oil at your local drugstore or health food store. Better yet, eat fish rich in Omega-3, such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and anchovies. In one study, women who took fish oil experienced less menstrual cramps than those who took the placebo.
MOVE ME-Exercise. Light physical activity, such as walking, yoga, Pilates and stretching improves circulation in the pelvic area. Just because you've got your period doesn't mean you're banished to a sedentary pose all day long.
-Heat. A warm compress over your stomach or a hot bath might alleviate menstrual discomfort.
-Urinate regularly. Don't hold it in! Your digestive tract is already so full of liquids that need to be relieved.
Last Words: Common sense dictates that you get enough sleep. Don't stress the small stuff! Coming down with a cold or finding rock-hard knots in your shoulders are the last thing you need when you're already struggling to maintain your sanity.
Photo by rbmay.