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Period pain is awful and unfair and almost not worth it for the ability to create human life (fine, that’s a pretty cool thing women can do). Some of us get to a point where we feel like we’ve tried every remedy out there to no avail. Why must our uterui betray us every month?

For the lady who’s tried everything — birth control, pain killers, heating pads, hot water bottles, etc. — we have a few more natural suggestions that might do the trick.

First of all: cramps are caused by the muscles in and around your uterus contracting and cutting off the blood flow (that’s ironic) and oxygen to your uterus, resulting in pain. A lot of these remedies work by either relaxing cramped muscles or reducing other factors that build up muscle tension.

Herbs

Herbs have been used for hundreds of years to cure all kinds of ailments. While we’re pretty pleased with the advancements of modern medicine (thank you, penicillin) there are some natural cures that we might benefit from returning to. Before you try medicinal herbs, you should consult a doctor or naturopath to find out the right dosage and if it will interfere with any other medications you’re taking. Herbs can be taken in capsule form or from tinctures (liquid extracts that concentrate the active ingredients). Here are some of the ones that might help with your cramps.

  • Crampbark: vibernum opulus’s colloquial name pretty much says it all. This herb is a spasmolytic which just means it works to relax muscles and reduce muscle spasms.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf: Midwives will often suggest women drink teas made with this herb for postpartum uterine contractions, but it can also be used to alleviate period cramps.
  • Vitex: (or vitex agnus castus) can be used to regulate hormones. More specifically, it can increase progesterone because a deficiencies can cause cramping.

Magnesium Supplements

In general, a magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramping throughout the body. Add your period on top of that and you could be in for some horrible menstrual pain. Taking magnesium supplements when you’re on your period might help ease the tension in your muscles. Healthy magnesium levels also help with sleep and anxiety — other things that can suffer when you’re on your period. You can also increase your magnesium levels by consuming foods like spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds and almonds.

Again, consult your doctor to find out if a deficiency is your problem and about dosages.

Cutting out caffeine

We know, we know, the last thing you want to do when you’re already on your period and feeling gross is cut out comforts like coffee and chocolate. Hear us out though. Caffeine creates tension in muscles throughout the body, including the uterus. Cutting out caffeine and thus, the base-line tension that comes with it, you might ease or eliminate your menstrual pain. Just try cutting it out one week before your period is due to start and see if your pain is better for that month. That means coffee, black tea, green tea, chocolate, energy drinks and soft drinks. If your pain level is the same, maybe you’re not sensitive to caffeine and you can move on.