Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps

natural remedies for menstrual cramps

Do you still suffer from menstrual cramps, even though you eat real food now?  Me too.  I seem to have a cycle that has one painful month followed by a less painful month, and then they alternate.  I am fortunate in that my cramps usually only last one day and then disappear completely.

But everyone’s body is different, and I think we all can use a list of home remedies to try out the next time we are suffering through this symptom!

Diet Matters

First of all, I am a big believer in listening to your body’s food cravings.  There is a reason you might be craving a steak, or chocolate when you are on your period.  Maybe you need iron, or magnesium.  There’s a reason you want to have more salt.  You probably need those trace minerals.  Or maybe you just need a certain food to trigger an anti-stress response in your body.  The point?  Eat what you crave!

Also make sure that you are eating a real foods diet generally.  This means that you eat whole unprocessed foods: raw milk, pastured eggs, grass-fed meats, organic produce, plenty of unrefined sea salt, a variety of properly prepared grains (sourdoughed, sprouted, freshly ground), and as many traditional foods as you can get your hands on, including organ meats and cod liver oil!

Specific to female reproductive health, you may also want to incorporate maca root.  I took maca for a while after I had my son E to balance my hormones.  I noticed that it helped with my menstrual cramps in particular, and helped my period woes in general to be less severe.  Maca is known as a supplement to help with male virility, but also as a help to women on many levels:

It doesn’t just help men, though. Maca doesn’t discriminate when it comes to talking both men and women’s endocrine systems into balancing hormones. Women use it to boost libido, ease the symptoms of menopause, enhance fertility, and (you’ll never believe this) slightly expand the size of their breasts and rears to achieve a more hourglass look. If you’re afraid that maca will make you fat, though, there’s some evidence to suggest maca actually helps you lose weight in the areas where you might need to (like your stomach), as it helps boost metabolism. (source)

There are also some menstrual benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar.  Simply put a tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and drink it 1-3 times a day before and during your period.  I have tried this and it really helps me!

Soothing Your Body

Use a heating pad!  This helps your muscles relax, and your uterus is a muscle!  Allowing the uterine muscles to relax can help with oxygen flow to that area as well.  Between the relaxation and increased oxygen, your pain level can be relieved significantly.  Plus, back to listening to your body, don’t you just want to curl up around something warm when you are crampy?  There is a reason!

Take a hot bath, or at least have a lovely foot soak.  The hot water itself will help your muscles unclench and soothe away feelings of stress.  I also recommend using magnesium flakes, which can be particularly helpful in reducing stress and creating a relaxed state.  Plus, we tend to be magnesium deficient these days due to our minerally-depleted soil here in the U.S., so getting more magnesium can be beneficial, not just for cramps but for many ailments.

If you haven’t already, switch from tampons and pads to at least an organic cotton version of both.  But even better?  Use a menstrual cup!  And if you still need to use pads, consider using organic cotton cloth pads that come in all kinds of pretty patterns are so so soft!

Personally, I prefer a menstrual cup for ease of use and cleanup.  It’s so easy to use, and I tend to do better with them in terms of bloating, cramps, and length of menstruating.

Herbs and Essential Oils

Red raspberry leaf tea is known for its benefits to female reproductive health.  Folklore suggests that pregnant women should drink red raspberry leaf tea to aid in the delivery process.  I drank several cups of the stuff before I had my little E, and while I can’t say definitively whether or not it aided me in my labor, it was definitely tasty!

But there is a cramping benefit to red raspberry leaf tea:

While there is no evidence that raspberry leaf tea can help bring on labor, its nutrients have been found to strengthen the uterine muscles which could make contractions more efficient. (source)

I love me a scientific study, so I was pretty excited to find that there was one done on the benefit of essential oils compared to Tylenol (acetaminophen) on reducing menstrual cramp pain in high school aged girls.  The group given essential oils were massaged on the abdomen with:

clary sage, marjoram, cinnamon, ginger, and geranium in a base of almond oilThe reduction of menstrual pain was significantly higher in the aromatherapy group than in the acetaminophen group (source)

The essential oil blend I find that works best for me is PanAway, made from a blend of wintergreen, helichrysium, clove, and peppermint essential oils.  PanAway was the first blend I ever used and was blown away; I used it for a painful cyst and it took the swelling away.  Now I use it for my cramps and it works every time.  You can find essential oils here.

Move Around

I know, I know, nobody likes this one!  It feels counterintuitive to get up and walk and even go to the gym when you feel crummy.  But the truth is that exercise really does help alleviate cramps.  The increased oxygen and warming up your body really helps the uterine muscles relax and you start to feel better.

Try doing something simple like going for a walk or a swim.  Or if you really want to feel good, push through the pain and get yourself to the gym and lift some weights.  The endorphins will help you feel much better!

What other home remedies to you use when your monthly visitor comes?

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


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  1. This is a good list. I also have less cramps if I relax. I have noticed that cramps come and go significantly if I am suddenly in a stressful situation or I go and lie down and totally relax. The last one, a lot of people have trouble with……relaxing.

  2. How does using a menstrual cup help with cramps? I wear pads/tampons depending on what I am doing (do I have to go to a business meeting? Well, I am not going to be wearing a pad).

    But, I have a real food lifestyle and my cramps are so severe — I am talking about throwing up and passing out type of severe. Just not fair. It sucks being a woman and I hate it. Only 15 more years of this (about).

    • Rebecca, I don’t know the scientific reason, but I’ve heard it from other women and experienced it myself….its one of those things that causes no harm to try.

    • I don’t have an explanation either! But I did notice that mine improved when I made the switch. Something about the material used and not being absorbed is my guess…

    • sounds like you could really use some maca power!

  3. Thanks for the awesome info! I have endometriosis, so I’m always looking for natural ways to relieve monthly pain. I love the essential oils idea – definitely want to try that. I also find castor oil packs to be very helpful (although these shouldn’t be done during menstruation as this can make the bleeding heavier – they’re best done throughout the rest of the month).

  4. I tried getting up & doing some exercise. I almost passed out on the spot. Was very lucky my hubby was there to help get me onto something soft before I fainted. I can’t recommend the going to the gym tip provided here, but everything else in this list was very helpful. Especially the essential oils. I would also like to suggest the use of Cramp Bark Extract. You can add it to teas or just take it neat. The Tension Tamer tea from Celestial Seasonings is also another favorite remedy of mine. It contains B vitamins, cinnamon, peppermint & lots of other beneficial herbs. Good luck getting rid of those cramps ladies!

  5. The menstrual cups seem to help with PMS too. I also drink milk when I find myself getting crabby. The menstrual cups work great you just have to get used to them. I used mine while I was on vacation and had no problems. The trick is that after they are inserted you turn the cup 360 degrees for a good fit. I like the cups because you use less toilet paper(no wrapping of used pads), you can see the amount of “stuff” your body is getting rid of, if you are near a sink you can rinse it out every time you use the bathroom,and it lets you know clearly when your period starts and stops.

  6. I have always suffered severe cramps, I’m on a clean diet now and it’s more bearable. I can not say exercise is a good thing though, u need to be gentle, maybe a light walk but nothing too heavy as it may damage your insides as they are tender during this time, and swimming will chill the abdomen and may increase pain. I can say that homeopathic drops do wonders as well as essential oil massage and teas. There is one thing that has always killed the pain and that was boiled beer. It sounds weird but it is an old remedy from my great grandmother. You boil a cup or less of beer, drink it as hot as you can, it tastes gross but it works!

  7. I can’t find the Maca root on that website. Is there another place I can find it?

  8. Don’t forget Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus) tincture! 😉 It is important to address the root cause of menstrual cramps – but, in a pinch, a couple dropperfulls of Cramp Bark tincture immensely helps.

  9. My 3 daughters have had amazing results from drinking organic raspberry leaf tea! In fact my youngest was on medication for her cramps because they were debilitating! She is now OFF those meds completely!!
    The key is to drink several cups a day for a few days leading up to your period and then during the first few days when cramps seem to be at their worse.

  10. Anna Harvey says:

    I swear by catnip tea. It is a great relaxant and part of the mint family. Oh and super yummy with some stevia!

  11. My mother owns a health food store and after 15 years of giving me every possible herb & vitamin that *should* have helped me with my severe cramps (but didn’t) a new customer recently came in & asked for BLUE Cohosh capsules for her severe cramps/nausea/etc. (Not to be confused with BLACK Cohosh, which is really beneficial for menopause.)

    I immediately started taking the Blue Cohosh & this is the ONLY thing that has ever helped me with my cycle. I take 1 capsule a day, every day; 2 capsules a day the week before & week of my cycle. I still have some of my normal symptoms, but they are FAR less severe than without the Blue Cohosh. For me it’s kind of a miracle!

    • I had started using a menstrual cup months ago and it seemed like my cramping was less painful but still pretty uncomfortable. Last week I started supplementing magnesium for other problems I am having (I was using 2 rounded teaspoons of natural calm spread over the course of the day) and when I got my period this week it was basically a non-event. I felt something happening in that area but I wouldn’t say it qualified as pain. I would say I had slight discomfort for maybe an hour right when it started. I will have to see if next month is the same.

  12. I swear by Ginger. I’ve pre-made some capsules with ginger powder in them. Those are great for headaches only somewhat for cramps. The best thing I’ve found is to slice fresh ginger and steep it in water to make a “tea”. Drink while hot and it works every time.

  13. I have suffered from very painful cramps for 40 years. I messed up my digestive system from so much Ibuprofen. I love my new naturopath that suggested I might have a vitamin K deficiency. So, she had me start the supplement. Now, I barely have them. I don’t have to take anything for the pain. Amazing!

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