Eight Key Herbs for Painful Periods

Posted by Ingrid Bauer, MD on May 20th 2024

Eight Key Herbs for Painful Periods

Many people with periods spend up to a quarter of every month with significant discomfort. If you’ve ever had to call out from school or work, or had to just push through on a handful of ibuprofen, you’ll understand why finding natural solutions for period comfort is so important!

Since period pain can reflect an underlying problem like fibroids, endometriosis, or other medical issues, it’s important to see a qualified health practitioner. But if you’ve been told “everything is normal” and you don’t want to use conventional treatments like oral contraceptives and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, the plant world has some useful tools to support the body naturally.

Anti-Inflammatory Support

Ginger: One of the most ubiquitous healing herbs around the world, you can find fresh ginger in almost any grocery store at an affordable price. Ginger has both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, and a recent meta-analysis suggests that oral ginger is safe and effective for menstrual cramps compared to placebo. Ginger tea can also be applied on a warm washcloth to the abdomen for additional comfort.

Cinnamon: Warming and delicious, the essential oils in cinnamon have been shown in studies to exert antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory activity on the uterus. Furthermore, cinnamon may help slow heavy bleeding which often accompanies menstrual cramps.

Smooth Muscle Relaxants for Cramps

Cramp Bark: Aptly named for its traditional use for menstrual and other smooth muscle cramping, Cramp Bark has a long history of use in North America as an antispasmodic.

Wild Yam: Utilized in both traditional Chinese medicine and Western herbalism, Wild Yam is an antispasmodic herb for smooth muscle cramps. Wild yam is also a natural source of phytoestrogens, and its anti-inflammatory compounds have been used to support aching joints.

Build and Move the Blood with Chinese Herbs

Dong Quai: One of the most prized herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, Dong Quai Tonifies the Blood and regulates the menses. It also moves Blood and helps alleviate abdominal discomfort associated with Blood deficiency and Blood stasis, which are the TCM correlates for menstrual cramps.

White Peony: Often paired with Dong Quai, White Peony is another chief herb in TCM for alleviating pain and simultaneously Tonifying the Blood. It also supports the mood and digestive symptoms often associated with premenstrual syndrome.

Gentle pain relief

California Poppy: We adore this gentle yet effective calming herb for many of life’s discomforts. It is incredibly bitter in tea, so we prefer it as a tincture or glycerite. Find California Poppy and many additional herbs for period comfort in our Easy Moon tincture formula.

Chamomile: Whether you grow your own or pick up a classic box of Sleepy Time tea at your local grocer’s, most of us feel comfortable and at ease with a cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile contains powerful anti-inflammatory essential oils to reduce period pain, and also soothes the digestion, reducing gas and bloating which often come with the menstrual cycle.

Please note: many herbs are not safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, or if you are taking prescription medications. Please check with a qualified healthcare practitioner before initiating a self-care program with herbs.

Want to learn more about herbs for women's health? Read more on the blog

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