Painful period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, affect about 50% of women. Herbs have been used for hundreds of years to help decrease discomfort that happens during the menstrual phase of the cycle.
There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary and secondary.
Primary dysmenorrhea, also known as congestive dysmenorrhea, is thought to be caused by excessive levels of prostaglandins. These are hormones that make your uterus contract during menstruation and childbirth. It is also defined as, “A dull aching pain in the lower abdomen as well as other areas of the body that may begin several days before menstruation and can include other premenstrual symptoms such as irritability.”
Secondary dysmenorrhea, also known as spasmodic dysmenorrhea, is defined as pain during menstruation that is related to problems in the uterus or to pelvic disease, such as chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, and sexually transmitted infections. These are the sharp cramps that start at the beginning of your period.
Keep reading to learn about the Best Herbs for Period Cramps
Spasmodic dysmenorrhea (secondary dysmenorrhea) is treated with antispasmodics, analgesics, and sedating herbs. These herbs are known to decrease muscle spasms (cramps) and alleviate pain. The herb crampbark is specifically indicated for uterine muscle spasms. Other herbs include:
- Black cohosh
- Wild yam
- Black haw
These herbs can be combined in a custom herbal tea blend or tincture. It’s best to start consuming these herbs a few days before your period begins.
Uterine tonic herbs:
Congestive dysmenorrhea (primary dysmenorrhea) is treated with uterine tonic and astringent herbs. These herbs are used to improve pelvic and uterine circulation, relieve local congestion, and improve pelvic tone. A few herbs include:
- Red raspberry leaf
- Blue cohosh
- Dong quai
Herb Fun Facts
- Helpful for nausea
- Great if you experience cramping pain with nausea, vomiting, and bloating associated with period onset.
- Excellent herb for heavy or excessive bleeding
Red Raspberry Leaf:
- Nausea relief
- Strengthens uterus
- Helps reduce nausea and gas
- Great source of calcium and magnesium
It’s important to understand why you’re experiencing these symptoms. Examining your lifestyle and hormone testing are great starting points. Topical applications can be used for soothing cramps. Massage with essential oils diluted in a carrier oil. Increasing magnesium in your diet is very effective at reducing cramps. Stress management, yoga, and exercise have also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of dysmenorrhea.
Not interested in making your own blend? Try our menstrual support blend here. It's an infusion blended to reduce bloating, relieve cramps, combat hormonal acne, and regulate mood.