5 natural ways to ease menstrual pain

While low energy, bloating, and moodiness are a few of the physical and emotional effects of menstruation, pain is often the most debilitating aspect of the monthly female cycle [*].

According to the Journal of Pain Research, over 84% of women suffer from menstrual pain, referred to as dysmenorrhea [*]. This pain can cause women to struggle to function optimally, often resulting in absenteeism from studies, work, and social engagements [*].

So what happens during menstruation to cause pain?

When women get their period, the uterus contracts to help shed its lining [*]. The reason this process can be painful is due to the “elevated release of prostaglandins into the uterine tissue once the menstruation begins” [*]. Prostaglandins are hormones that help to regulate the reproductive system, however when released in excess, they can cause inflammation, and in turn, pain [*].  

The good news is that there are tons of supportive practices women can use to ease period pain. Here are a few tips:

1. Up your intake of magnesium and calcium

The majority of the population is magnesium deficient, and low levels of this vital mineral can impact the pain experienced during menstruation[*]. While magnesium can be obtained through a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes [*], taking a magnesium supplement may help women get the adequate amount needed to lessen the pain experienced during their cycle. This mineral can help to relax the muscles of the uterus and control cortisol levels, which may both ease cramping as well as mood swings during premenstrual syndrome, known as PMS [*]. 

Calcium may also play a role in helping to regulate period pain [*]. In a recent study that evaluated the effect of calcium on PMS, results showed that supplementing calcium had a positive effect on mood leading up to menstruation. In the study, the women who took calcium reported a significant decrease in feelings of sadness and depression leading up to their period [*]. 

2. Align your schedule with your menstrual cycle

According to a recent study, menstruation affects emotions, cognition, and behaviour [*]. While our culture is obsessed with being busy, the female body has other plans when menstruation arrives. When women are on their period, it’s a fantastic time to lean into the invitation to slow down and go inwards. In the book The Optimized Woman, author Miranda Gray points out that women are not meant to be productive and operating at full capacity all of the time, but rather different stages of their cycle provide unique insights and opportunities, such as enhanced creativity or reflection. Plus, tuning into the different phases in women’s cycle offers awareness of heightened emotions and mood swings, which may inform what you make space for at different times of the month [*]. For example, the high progesterone levels that are spiked during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle “are associated with increased amygdala reactivity and increased emotional memory” [*]. In a Forbes interview that spoke about how women can harness their fullest potential by tracking their cycle, obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Larry Tiglao explains that a woman's awareness of her hormonal changes during her cycle can influence her brain chemistry and explain the physical and emotional shifts experienced at different times of the month [*]. If we take this into account, then perhaps women can experience a reduction in pain once learning to listen to what their bodies intuitively want, such as more rest, nourishment, and self-compassion. 

3. Stay hydrated

Not only does water help to flush out toxins, improve digestion, regulate body temperature, and transport water and nutrients to your cells, it may also help to reduce bloating and swelling due to inflammation [*]. Research shows that dehydration can stimulate inflammatory signalling in the body, and since inflammation can lead to pain, drinking water is one of the easiest and fastest ways to support a hassle-free menstrual cycle. Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing explains that there is no one-size-fits-all water intake since those with certain health conditions, or who take medication, may require more or less water than the next person. It’s best to consult with your medical practitioner who can assess your individual water consumption needs [*].

4. Use chamomile

A recent study recommends using chamomile as a herb to support healthy menstruation since it has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-anxiety properties [*]. Drinking chamomile tea is said to help “modulate the actions of dopamine and serotonin, helping to offset or at least reduce the impact of depressive symptoms” often experienced during PMS [*]. Plus, its ability to potentially lessen inflammation may help to reduce cramping, swelling, and bloating [*].

5. Use CBD

Each of us has an endocannabinoid system, which is a system made up of cannabinoid receptors, such as CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the central and peripheral nervous system, endocannabinoids, and enzymes [*]. This system helps to control digestion, metabolism, reproduction, immunity, memory, and even mood [*]. Basically, the ECS helps the body to come back into balance, and using CBD may help to boost natural levels of endocannabinoids and further balance the ECS [*]. The ECS is found in every major system in the body, and is especially prevalent in the female reproductive system, explaining why CBD may be so effective [*].

Whether you choose a dried flower strain with a high CBD content, such as CBD Skunk Haze pre-rolls, CBD Shark Shock pre-rolls or dried flower, or an ingestible oil like Treasure Island CBD Tincture or High CBD Tincture, research supports using the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties [*]. Better yet, make your own cannabis-infused salve with supportive herbs to help ease your menstrual aches and pains. If you're looking to get your medical cannabis prescription, follow these steps.

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