5 Natural Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
If you struggle with PMS symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, mood swings, headaches, cramps and more you’re not alone! Did you know that 90% of women are affected by PMS? We all know how debilitating menstrual cramps can be and how we all desperately look for relief when those symptoms hit. Today I’m sharing with you all you need to know about PMS and 5 natural remedies to help you push through on those hard days.
What Causes PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS, is a condition that effects women during specific days before or at the beginning of our monthly cycle. Women are affected physically, mentally and emotionally depending on the symptoms. PMS does not have a definite cause but most researchers believe it is due to a shift in hormone levels. A swing in our serotonin level directly affects our mood and emotions. Other hormones that are affected are estrogen and progesterone, which increase throughout the month. Mood swings and irritability may accompany the increase of these hormones.
What Can Makes PMS Worse?
Food, lifestyle, and hormone imbalances all contribute and even worsen those pesky PMS symptoms.
Foods To Avoid:
– High salt, sugar, and processed foods: Avoiding these foods can reduce bloating and decrease tenderness of breasts.
– Try consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, which means eating a diet free of gluten, dairy, sugar and processed food. Inflammation may disrupt hormone balance and cause more intense PMS symptoms.
– Limit caffeine: This one is hard, I know, but research has shown that caffeine can affect sleep and even promote PMS symptoms.
– Limit alcohol: Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep causing you to sleep too much or not enough.
Foods To Eat To Support A Healthy Cycle:
– Cruciferous vegetables: These vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Consuming these vegetables may help balance estrogen metabolism which is a big contributor of PMS. Cooking vegetables may be easier on digestion if you are feeling cramps or digestive distress. Try these veggies in a soup or stir-fry!
– Leafy greens: Dark leafy greens contain indole-3 carbinol, which also works toward balancing your hormones!
– B vitamin rich foods: Look for foods high in B vitamins, such as beans and legumes to relieve the intensity of your cramps, boost progesterone and may decrease your stress. B vitamins help your body turn the food you eat into energy.
– High water content foods: Consume foods such as watermelon and cucumbers, which are high in water content and are a natural diuretic that can help reduce bloating.
– Non-dairy yogurt: Yogurt is packed with probiotics, which aids in gut digestion and can keep your food cravings at bay. Look for unsweetened non-dairy yogurt and top with fruit, nuts and seeds! Traditional dairy yogurt is a common food allergen and may further gas and bloating.
– Stay hydrated! Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water to support digestion and help reduce bloating. Filtered water, herbals teas and water dense foods such as citrus and cucumbers are great options.
– Plant-Powered: It’s normal to have cravings during your period. However, to many sweet and processed foods can make bloating, irritability and feeling sluggish worse. Go ahead and treat yourself but aim to keep 80-90% of your diet based in real, whole plant-powered foods. Food examples include fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, which all support hormonal balance, healthy digestion and will help balance energy levels.
– Exercise: Moderate exercise of 30-45 minutes at least 4-5 times a week can greatly improve PMS symptoms such as irritability, bloating, depression and mood. You’re only one workout away from a good mood! If you’re feeling sluggish a simple walk around the neighborhood is great exercise and the fresh air is so refreshing.
– Mediation: Find time to relax your mind and refocus for the day. If you’re new to meditating, try mediating for small amounts time at first (1-3 minutes) and work up to longer periods (5+ minutes). Mediation can consist of sitting in silence while deep breathing, praying, or even just focusing on thoughts that bring you peace. Mediation has been shown to reduce stress and relax your muscles.
– Quality Sleep: Sleep is crucial for our body to heal, repair and to help balance energy levels, moods and hormone health. Quality sleep is just as important, if not more important the quantity of sleep. A cool dark room without phones or TV is the best atmosphere for quality sleep. Unplug for social media and work at least 1- 2 hours before bed and engage in relaxing activities that help you body know it’s time to wind down and get some serious Zzzzs. A cup of chamomile tea and deep breathing can also help relax the body for a more restful night.
– Reduce Stress: Stress may exacerbate PMS symptoms. When you feel stressed, journal your feelings to identify stress triggers. From there you can work to find solutions that help you resolve or reduce the stressful occurrences in your life. Some life stressors we can not avoid, but we can learn to change how we respond to stress. Exercise, meditation, reading, a bath, talking to a friend or family member, therapy, or doing an activity you love can also help reduce stress.
– Hormones play a huge roles in our body both physically and emotionally. The two main hormones of concern with our monthly cycle are estrogen and progesterone. When these two hormones are imbalanced, our bodies can suffer from acne, irregular cycles, too light or heavy bleeding, and worsened PMS symptoms. If you suspect that your hormones are out of balance, meeting with a Naturopathetic Doctor (ND) who will assess your health holistically can be helpful to run blood work to review your hormone levels and help provide a whole-body approach to brining your hormones back into balance.
– Pumpkin seeds and flax seeds support estrogen function whereas sesame seeds and sunflower seeds support progesterone function. Consuming these foods at specific times of the month, known as seed cycling, may help improve hormone balance naturally. Want to learn more? All HGG members have access to our Seed Cycling Guide! Get info here!
– Your liver plays a key role in breaking down estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli can aid in detoxification and proper excess estrogen elimination.
– Quality sleep, a healthy diet, hydration, exercise, and limiting processed foods play a direct role in the function of your hormones. To start, follow the steps mentioned above to improve your hormonal balance.
5 Natural PMS Remedies:
– Soak in an epsom salt bath! Epson salts break down into magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant which may help to ease cramps by relaxing your muscles and loosing up stiff joints.
– Some women report relief from using herbs such as ginger and turmeric into their diet. Check out our Golden Milk recipe found on HGG blog for the perfect soothing drink recipe that is packed with anti-oxidants. Enjoy this recipe here!
– Try taking a magnesium supplement to help ease cramps, act as a natural pain killer and aid in sleep. Magnesium activates different neurotransmitters that can calm the body and mind helping you feel better and relax!
– Take some time and relax with a heating pad! Heating pads work by relaxing your uterus muscles, allowing blood flow to increase, which eases your pain.
– Supplementing calcium and vitamin B6 has been shown in some studies to reduce headaches, mood swings, and control muscular activity.
Browse our blog to find some amazing HGG Recipes that will support and aid your monthly cycle! Click here to enjoy now: HGG Recipes