Period pain is the worst. It can leave you restless, nauseated, angry and sad. It messes with sleep and makes us want to stay in bed. All. Day. Long. And so it can be all too easy to reach for a painkiller (along with a hot-water bottle) to try to get it under control. But what if there were more natural remedies for period pain? Well, there are. We spoke to Water for Health naturopathic nutritionist Amy Morris to find out the natural ways she recommends to battle everything from the cramps to the bloating via the mood changes that come with this monthly occurrence.
Keep scrolling for some surprising natural routes to a pain-free period.
It can be all too easy to want to curl up in your pyjamas when period pain strikes, but it turns out that a bit of movement can ease the cramping. "You need to release some of those feel-good chemicals, otherwise known as endorphins, which you achieve through exercise," explains Morris. "Exercise has been proven to provide a natural reliever for period cramps, as the increased blood flow and the endorphins released help to counteract the pain induced by your period." We're not talking running a marathon here (unless you really want to) but something a little more low impact, like a yoga session or a brisk walk through the park.
Massage the Affected Area
We all know what wonders a good massage can do for a bad back or tired feet, and a cramping abdomen is no different. "To relieve your period cramps, you should try to massage your stomach at least five minutes every day to promote blood circulation while easing tense muscles. To elevate this, you can opt for essential oils such as lavender for its pain-relieving properties," explains Morris.
Add a Supplement
If you're not particularly happy with dosing up on painkillers, you'll be pleased to know that supplements can help. "Research has recently found that young women taking omega-3 supplements experience far less stomach cramping, due to a decrease in prostaglandin levels. Along with this, in the occasions when cramping did occur, it was found to be much less severe and lasted for a shorter period of time," reveals Morris.
Up Your Magnesium Intake
"A key contribution to menstrual pain is water retention, which can be prevented by enhancing your levels of the key nutrient, magnesium," explains Morris. You'll find it in plenty of foods such as bananas, pumpkin seeds and dark leafy greens. "Magnesium also acts as a muscle relaxant and has the ability to lower the 'bad' prostaglandins, which could be contributing to your excruciating pain," she adds.
Drink more water
If you think drinking water will increase bloating, think again. "It's a complete myth. Drinking water decreases your chances of water retention, which is what makes cramps all the more painful," reveals Morris. "Keeping hydrated with lots of water, warm or cold, is your easiest way to alleviate your period pains." Morris also recommends herbal teas such as chamomile and peppermint, which are not only soothing, but they are also known to be anti-inflammatory and proven to help relieve cramps.
Reach for Chocolate
Good news: Chocolate can help. "Try to opt for a chocolate bar with at least 60% cacao, as not only will this curb the sugar cravings you're likely to be having, but it will also boost your serotonin levels, known as the 'happiness' hormone," explains Morris.
Get More Sleep
Like many things, getting more sleep can really help. "Interruptions to your regular sleeping pattern can interfere with your monthly cycle and result in irritability, fatigue and stomach cramping," reveals Morris. "It's heavily recommended that you choose to have even more sleep than you usually would during your time of the month, as relaxation can play a very strong role in pain relief." We've got a whole heap of sleeping tips here.
Read more about Livia, the electronic device promising to rid you of period pain.