As women, we get to experience the joy of a period, aka one or two weeks a month where we go through a roller-coaster of emotions and a little torture. With mood swings, loss of appetite, increase in appetite, fluctuation in body temperature, and just general ‘ugh,’ our periods are a tough time (check out these weird side effects of your period that you never knew about). Fortunately, we’ve found some great remedies to help make your girl-flu more ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ than ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ – you know, like the tampon adverts say we’re supposed to feel.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Period cramping is literally the worst! The sharp pain is caused by your uterus muscles contracting, which is what causes that sharp shooting pain in your stomach, so you need something that’s going to relax the muscles. Lavender essential oil is great for kicking the cramps, as it has anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. However, you don’t want to apply pure essential oils to your skin, in case of irritation. Use a couple of drops of lavender oil mixed with a gentle, unscented lotion and massage it into your lower abdomen. For extra relief, warm up the mixture in your hands – the heat will also help relieve the pain.
Heat is a great way to relax the uterine muscles. Invest in a hot water bottle or a microwaveable wheat bag and place it on your stomach. A warm shower, hot bath or a hot drink will help ease the pain too.
The absolute last thing you want to do during your period is hit the gym. Aside from feeling bloated and gross, the aches feel like you’ve been working out for weeks already. But, hear us out on this one. Exercising actually increases the blood flow to the pelvic region as well as releasing endorphins – the happy hormone that makes you feel great. During your period, your body produces prostaglandins, which is a hormone that causes the uterine muscles to contract (ugh,) but endorphins from exercise help fight it off (yay)! If you don’t necessarily feel like hitting body pump or Zumba classes, a light yoga session at home will also help. Try downloading an app called Down Dog, which will guide you through yoga classes tailored to your level, mood, and time!
4. Ginger and Black Pepper Tea
Another wonderful aspect of our periods is fatigue! But caffeine is a big no-no as it causes the constriction of blood vessels – including the ones in your uterus, to tighten. So, you need a little pick-me-up that won’t make things worse. Ginger is a fantastic option as it lowers the production of prostaglandins, easing the pain of cramps as well as giving you an energy boost and fighting fatigue. Make yourself some ginger and black pepper tea by adding 2 teaspoons of dried ginger (or a few slices of fresh ginger) and one teaspoon of black pepper to a cup of hot water. If you’re prone to irregular periods, ginger and black pepper tea can also help to regulate them.
As well as being a great pizza topping (mmm, pizza), basil is another herb that can help to ease period discomfort. Basil contains caffeic acid, which reduces inflammation that causes your uterus muscles to contract, as well as being an analgesic – a natural painkiller. To reap the benefits of basil, make yourself some tea by adding 1 teaspoon of dried basil leaves to a cup of hot water, or use fresh basil leaves in cool water with cucumber for a hydrating, healing hit of hydration.
6. Cinnamon and Honey
Cinnamon has antispasmodic, anti-clotting, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are basically the key properties you need during your period. An antispasmodic helps to suppress muscle spasms, while an anti-clotting chemical called coumarin helps prevent clots forming. Honey is a natural sweetener, but it’s also been shown to be just as effective as taking anti-inflammatory painkillers in a new study in the journal Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics – research showed that by taking one tablespoon of honey every day for two weeks prior to your period, it was as effective as anti-inflammatory painkillers to get rid of period pains. For quick and delicious pain relief, add a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to a cup of hot water with 1 tsp of honey – it’s seriously yum.
This is one remedy that we find really apeeling (we couldn’t help ourselves!). If your bloat has got you feeling like the Michelin man, bananas are your answer. Rich in vitamin B6 and potassium, bananas can help to reduce water retention, which can make you feel bloated and blurgh. Although including bananas into your everyday diet is also a good thing, as a lack of potassium can actually cause muscle cramping. We’re still looking into whether banana splits count.
8. Pickle Juice
Yep, pickle juice. High in sodium – as you can tell by the taste, pickle juice is also rumored to relieve period cramps by helping the body to hydrate, thereby calming cramps. Pickle juice is also an incredible source of electrolytes, antioxidants, and nutrients, which is all the good stuff you need to keep your body in check (some athletes drink it to help them replenish electrolytes after a workout). If you can stomach it, drink half a cup of pickle juice when you feel pain strike, ensuring you’ve eaten beforehand. Don’t overdo it though, as it can cause water retention and bloating if you have too much.
9. Avoid the Bad Stuff
Although there are plenty of remedies to help ease your period pains, you may actually be making them worse just by eatiby the wrong thing. If you’re prone to pains, steer clear of unhealthy foods, period. Avoid fast food and processed foods, carbonated drinks, fried food, caffeine, cakes, cookies, pasta, dairy products, and anything high in carbs or fat. We know it’s a lot, but at least we still have chocolate (75% or above, of course!).
Check out how your hormones are affecting your skin at every stage of your cycle here. Let us know if you’ve tried any of these pain-relieving methods in the comments below, or if you have any other tricks we should know about. If you’re feeling low and need a little girl-power pick-me-up, check out these awesome celebs who made us feel great about our periods.