Home Remedy for Menstrual Cramps
Home remedy for menstrual cramps is often the rule as per the reports of surveys and even the experiences of many women!
therapy, though administered at home, carries the same limitations and
risks as any other medical therapy. Having the right info to begin with
is therefore of utmost importance to gain maximum benefit and minimize
risks. This article seeks to provide women with such info covering the
different home options and how to apply them correctly.
Home self-care means treatment to achieve menstrual cramp relief that could be administered at home without the need of a
I have found that many women really appreciate this and it is the
usual first option by default both for newbies and those with
Of course I would not counsel any woman to seek
medical care every month for cramps. Indeed it is not recommended
especially for primary dysmenorrhea.Home remedy for menstrual cramps
will be the mainstay of therapy in such cases.
Get these facts straight about home therapy
existence of multiple options out there does not mean a woman with
painful menstrual cramp should use all at all times! A simple secret-
whenever a medical condition has a myriad of treatment options, it is
usually because there is hardly any single treatment that is effective
and safe for everyone.
- The all-important single
advice here is to identify what works for you and stick to it. I mean
what works for you, and not for your friend or relative or a website
owner dealing with menstrual cramp relief. If what worked for someone
does not work for you, do not get frustrated. Women simply respond
differently to the different options. You need only seek out what works
best for you.
- Do not forget the usual medical
principle of risk-benefits considerations. Always consider the risks,
side effects and potential toxicities of any home remedy for menstrual
cramps before giving your body to it. Similarly, there should be medical
evidence of some therapeutic benefit in achieving menstrual cramp
relief for you to consider using. Some options you will find are simply
experiential from some women and are passed from mouth to mouth. Some
women though will want to give such a try especially if the risks are
There are several options
now available which could also be used as home remedy for menstrual
cramps. These are considered below with considerations given to the
medical evidence of effectiveness and their application.
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS)
These are usually the firstline home remedy for menstrual cramps when
they are tolerated. They block the effects of prostaglandins which are
the main chemicals involved in causing cramps.
women are making the mistake of ignoring these in search of "any other
treatment" and wholly miss the great therapeutic benefits which these
drugs could offer. Improper administration leads to reduced
effectiveness in some women which cause them to loose theirconfidence in
- Preparations available without
prescription by physician(OTC drugs) include ibuprofen(
Advil®),naproxen( Aleve®) and ketoprofen(Orudis®); mefenamic acid,
indomthacin and diclofenac are preparations requiring a prescription in
countries like the United States.
- If there is
little effect with one type, try another type because they are not the
same in every respect. One type may provide menstrual cramp relief
while the other will not for the same woman.
are best taken a day or two before the onset of menses. I usually
counsel women to take throughout the menstrual flow or through the usual
- The problem with these medications
is their side effect profile including nausea, diarrhea, peptic ulcer
and abdominal discomfort. This does not mean all women have these
symptoms. Each occurs in some women only. Taking the drugs during meals
may reduce these effects. If you suffer from peptic ulcer or kidney
disease, it is best to avoid them or discuss with your doctor if they
really have to be taken. Alternative simple pain killers include
acetaminophen(tylenol) or tramadol.
- The drug
dosages of two common non-prescription NSAIDS are as follows:
Ibuprofen(Motrin®, Advil®) 400 to800mg initial dose followed by 400 to
800mg every 6 to 8 hours; Naproxen(Aleve®) 440mg initial dose followed
by 220 to 440 mg every 12 hours.Note that the initial dose is usually a
high dose for maximum initial menstrual cramp relief.
There is some medical evidence for the effect of some nutritional
supplements that make them a good home remedy for menstrual cramps,
though most of these studies were small scale clinical studies. At least
there is some evidence anyway for some.
Below is a consideration of the nutritional strategies available.
- Omega-3 fatty acid.
The effectiveness was proven by a 1996 study of 42 adolescents with
dysmenorrhea which showed that 63% of them obtained a significant pain
relief with.Omega-3 supplements. These are essential fatty acids meaning
they cannot be produced by the body and must be taken by mouth. Natural
sources include salmon,mackerel, sardines, anchovies, flax seed and cod
liver oils. They are also available as fish oil capsules sold in
nutritional supplement stores, drug stores and also online. These fatty
acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA),show a potent anti-inflammatory effects in the body and block the
production of inflammatory prostaglandins which are responsible for
cramping. Look for these active ingredients(EPA and DHA) on the label
before purchasing. The daily amount is 2g and should be taken just
before meals to reduce the uncomfortable aftertaste.
- Vitamin E. In
2005,a randomized controlled trial studied the effectiveness of vitamin
E in a group of 278 girls aged 15–17 years suffering from
dysmenorrhea.The study demonstrated significant menstrual cramp relief
and also reduced blood loss with vitamin E supplementation. This
compliments the evidence obtained in 1955 which demonstrated that 68% of
patients with dysmenorrhea had significant menstrual cramp relief with
vitamin E. Doses of 200 to 500 unit a day could be used though higher
doses have been used in some studies.Evidence has demonstrated an
augmented effect if it is started 2 days before Menses and continued for
evidence of magnesium's effectiveness in providing menstrual cramp
relief came from a meta-analysis(combining different studies together)
of 3 studies by the Cochrane Collaboration( Britain-Based institution
that reviews and puts together many clinical studies) in 2001. It is a
mineral that takes part in many metabolic processes in the body
including normal muscle function. Natural sources of magnesium include
nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and whole grains. It is also
available as nutritional supplements.It therefore stands out as a good
home remedy for menstrual cramps. Its effects have been shown to be
augmented by vitamin B6 so taking them together may result in increased
benefit. Beware of high doses as these may cause gastro-intestinal
upset, muscle weakness and heart abnormalities. It can interact with
some medications used for hypertension, osteoporosis and diuretics so
ask your physician about these if you are taking such medications.
- Vitamin B1 ( Thiamine).
A controlled study demonstrated a significant menstrual cramp relief in
87% of females experiencing dysmenorrhea. It should be taken in 100 mg
- Zinc A simple study
reviewing the medical charts of women with dysmenorrhea ( such studies
are not unequivocal) demonstrated that 30mg a day of zinc reduces
- Vitamin B3( Niacin) Some
evidence was suggested in the 1950s about niacin's effect in relieving
cramps but no control trial has be done to confirm it. Nevertheless,
that evidence cannot be completely discarded. Flushing is a possible
- Calcium Clinical
studies have suggested that calcium supplementation provides menstrual
cramp relief during menses and reduces water retention during the
period before menses. It similarly reduces symptoms of Premenstrual
syndrome(PMS). Daily supplementation with 1000mg should be taken
throughout the month.
- Other dietary issues Generally
foods substances like caffeine, sugar and salt which are known to
exacerbate symptoms of PMS should be taken in reduced amounts.
In 2001, a study demonstrated that continuous low-level heat applied to
the lower abdomen was as effective as ibuprofen in providing menstrual
cramp relief. As high as 70% of women reported complete relief( vs 35%
with placebo). This is an interesting finding. However, the study
utilized continuous application for 12 hours but about 50% of the women
reported significant pain relief after 1 hour 30 minutes. A heating pad
or a self-heating patch, not a water bottle, could be used for this
treatment. Do not burn your skin with heat! A temperature of about 104ºF
(40ºC) is sufficient. It could be applied in short periods as often as
necessary throughout the day to obtain relief. Associating this therapy
with NSAIDS can be an excellent home remedy for menstrual cramps.
In 1998, a study demonstrated the beneficial effects of exercise in
providing menstrual cramp relief. It is now commonly accepted to reduce
and also prevent menstruation cramps. This is in addition to its other
health benefits like its effect on cholesterol and others. It is
therefore strongly advisable for all women with primary dysmenorrhea to
try regular exercise to reduce cramps. Aerobic exercises such as
walking, jogging, biking and swimming on most days during the week may
promote pain relief possible through the release of natural body pain
killers called endorphins.
Varied evidence exist for the effectiveness of some herbs in
providing menstrual cramp relief. They are good options that could be
used as home remedy for menstrual cramps.
- Chinese herbal medicines
In 2008, an analysis of many clinical studies( some of poor research
quality) suggested that Chinese herbal medicine provide "promising
evidence" suggesting beneficial menstrual cramp relief effects. The
researchers suggested this could be an alternative when conventional
therapy fails. No significant adverse effects were noted. Some Chinese
herbs include Dang Gui ( Angelica sinensis or "female ginseng") and Yan
- Japanese herbal medicine.In
1997, a Japanese herbal formulation called toki-shakuyaku-san(TSS) was
shown to provide some relief of menstrual cramps for women with
- Guava leaf extract.In 2006, a clinical study demonstrated significant menstrual cramp relief with an extract of guava leaves.
- Black cohosh.This
is established for the treatment of menopausal symptoms but has also
been used as home remedy for menstrual cramps. The different forms
available include the dried root (300-2,000 mg per day) or the solid,
dry powdered extract (250 mg three times per day).Some find such herbs
very feasible as a home remedy for menstrual cramp since it could be
taken along as part of regular diet. The extract has been made available
in standardized doses given as 20-40 mg of extract twice per day. Large
doses may cause abdominal upset and headache.
- Cramp bark.Traditionally
used for menstrual cramp relief but available evidence is limited to
its effects in generally relieving smooth muscle cramps. It may be
taken as the tea form or tincture.
- Other herbs used with less evidence include Vervain, false unicorn,Açaí and vitex.
In 1980, a study revealed that 20-minute relaxation sessions twice a
week improve symptoms of dysmenorrhea. These include meditation and yoga
techniques. A good home remedy for menstrual cramps then that could be
tried if no significant relief after the others have been tried.
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