10 Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is a host of symptoms that manifest a week or two before a woman's monthly period, can last until a few days after her period ends and affects as many as 80 percent of women. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, but should not be confused with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD, which is much more serious. While symptoms can vary from woman to woman, they often include;

  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Food cravings
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Depression and crying spells
  • General achiness and fatigue

Take heart though ladies, there are plenty of natural ways to treat this condition.

1. Vitamin B1 and B2

According to a study out of the University of Massachusetts, women who regularly consume Vitamins B1 and B2 from food sources have a lower instance of menstrual cramps. It is interesting to note that the study also found that just taking supplements of these vitamins were not sufficient, leading one to conclude that there is some type of synergistic affect between the vitamins and other nutrients in food.

2. Whole Grains

Several studies have confirmed that the vitamins, particularly B6, found in whole grains are beneficial in relieving PMS symptoms. So there is no need to drop the carbohydrates during that time of the month. The trick however is that the woman needs to ensure that she is eating whole grain carbohydrates because empty, refined carbohydrates can make symptoms worse.

3. Calcium and Vitamin D

The power couple of nutrition, Calcium and Vitamin D are highly recommended to help ease some of the symptoms of PMS if taken early. It's important to take both together because vitamin D aids in the absorption of the calcium. While it's always best to get vitamins from the diet because of the synergistic affects with other nutrients in the food, in this case a supplement will also help relieve symptoms of depression, fatigue and appetite changes.

4. Chaste Tree Berry

According to a study originally posted in the British Medical Journal, chaste tree berry was effective at reducing feelings of irritability and depression as well as breast tenderness and headaches. Women who take medications for some hormonal conditions should not take chaste tree berry as it can interact with mainstream medications.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium has long been studied for use in relieving PMS symptoms, with consistent results showing that magnesium helps relieve mood related PMS symptoms such as depression and irritability. The recommended amounts vary in individual studies, but the range is between 200 and 360mg up to 3 times per day. Those with heart or kidney problems or those on any medications should consult a doctor before taking magnesium as it can cause complications.

6. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is somewhat controversial in its effect on menstrual cramps. Depending upon who issues the study it seems that some believe it's effective, while others don't. Ultimately it's up to each woman to decide if it's for her, but it doesn't hurt to try. Overall, the studies conclude that it may be effective, but more research is necessary. In those studies that show it to be effective, it is effective against many of the symptoms of PMS.

7. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. According to the beliefs of traditional Chinese medicine, health problems are caused by stagnant energy and/or blood in the body. Chinese medicine makes no distinction between physical and emotional symptoms. Though there is little scientific evidence as to if or how acupuncture works, thousands of years of use lends anecdotal evidence that it does. There is a risk of infection with acupuncture as the needles to break the skin.

8. Massage

What woman doesn't love a good massage? Well now there is an even better reason to get one. According to several studies out of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, massage has been show to be effective at relieving PMS symptoms, especially depression and pain. Since massage encourages circulation and lymph drainage, it can reduce fluid retention as well. Women should be sure to drink plenty of water in order to help flush the excess toxins and fluids from the body after the massage. Because massage is non-invasive and chemical free, it is safe for nearly everyone.

9. Dietary Changes

Certain dietary changes can help relieve the physical symptoms of PMS. Reducing salt intake can help with swelling, breast tenderness and feelings of dizziness. Reduce caffeine to help with depression symptoms. Avoid alcohol to reduce depression as well as headaches and nausea. Increasing water will paradoxically help with water retention, headaches, swelling and muscle pain.

10. Exercise

We've heard for years that exercise is good for PMS symptoms and it really is true. Exercise can help relieve muscle pain, particularly in the back and lower abdomen, as well as helping to reduce water retention. Exercise is also helpful for those who experience insomnia during their menstrual cycle. Since exercise is a natural energy booster, it helps with fatigue too. Just be sure not to overdo it because some symptoms like dizziness and nausea can be made worse by exercise.

There are many ways that women can cope with the uncomfortable symptoms associated with PMS, though not all of these will be effective for everyone. So give them a try, after all what is there to lose?

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