When “Aunt Flo” comes to town, all women know what is about to ensue. At best, a woman’s menstrual cycle is a mild annoyance, but many women commonly experience cramps, headaches, or aches and pains. Cramps can be mild, but they can also be quite severe, radiating pain to the lower back, glutes, thighs, and sometimes even the knees. Women are busy and don’t have time for cramps to interfere with their schedules, which is why we recommend the teas in this article for diminishing the pain associated with menstrual cramps.
What Are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps, medically referred to as dysmenorrhea, are thought to be caused by increased levels of prostaglandins, which are inflammatory compounds that help the uterus contract to release the uterine lining during the period. Prostaglandins are also hormone-like substances linked to inflammation and pain. They typically occur a few days before and during the first couple days of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Occasionally, cramps are caused by an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen hormones.
If you typically experience menstrual cramps, here are four teas that may help to counteract the pain.
If you are not a fan of licorice, then this may not be the tea for you. That being said, fennel contains anethole, a compound with anti-spasm effects, which may diminish menstrual cramp pain. A 2015 study that was published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing And Midwifery Research compared the effects of fennel extract on menstrual pain compared to mefenamic acid, a medication for dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). Different groups of women in the study took fennel extract, mefenamic acid, vitex extract, or placebo. Over the course of two cycles, the women who took fennel had a greater effect at decreasing cramps than the women who took the mefenamic acid.
Due to the inherent muscle relaxant effects, peppermint tea is an excellent tea for relieving menstrual cramps. One study examined the effects of peppermint on menstrual pain, and the findings determined that it helped improve menstrual-related pain. It also concluded that women with menstrual cramps may benefit from consuming peppermint tea over medicinal drugs.
Ginger is a warming herb and it has many benefits, including the ability to soothe sore throats and calm upset stomach. Menstrual cramps are typically caused by increased levels of prostaglandins, and ginger works to soothe cramps by lowering those levels. A 2009 study examined a group of women who took 250 mg of ginger root four times a day for three days from the start of their menstrual cycles. Compared to the women who took ibuprofen, the women who took ginger experienced decreased cramps and pain relief. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can also be helpful in reducing menstrual cramp pain. For optimal effectiveness, drink 4 cups of ginger tea per day.
Cramp Bark Tea
If ever there was a name for an herb that relieves menstrual cramps, it is cramp bark tea. This antispasmodic herb has been known to alleviate cramps and assist with reducing symptoms of bloating as well. Preliminary research indicated that cramp bark may be useful for decreasing uterus spasms, helping it to relax during the menstrual cycle. Cramp bark tea is most effective when you drink it one or two days prior to experiencing cramps.