Saturday, 25 June 2016

Menstrual Cramps? Nature is here to help!

Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea is a common problem among women.. There are many causes for painful menstruation , some of them not due to any specific medical conditions especially when the begin from the time of first menstrual cycles. 

When the pain of menstruation remains to be worrisome after the 20s , a medical consultation is warranted.  Many women suffering  from menstrual cramps every month often  take pain killers and hormones.  

Not all women are comfortable taking prescription pills. There is also a risk of developing gastritis and even stomach ulcers when one takes these ‘pain killers’ for long periods.

A number of non-prescriptive pills have been said to relieve menstrual cramps. Although effectiveness varies from person to person, women should always seek the views of medical doctors when pain persists as some gynaecological problems like endometriosis, fibroids and pelvic infections may also cause persistent painful menstruation.

"Ginger is as effective as painkillers for painful menses"

1. Ginger

Based on search for evidence, two research articles compare the effectiveness  ginger  taken by mouth and  prescription pills (pain killers).

Shirvani MA et al reported that among 122 female students with dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) ginger  was as effective as a regular painkiller. Ginger was also noted not to have any side effects.

A systematic review by Chin X Chen et al also concludes that ginger can be effective in reduced menstrual cramps. In their study, some side effects such as heartburn and headache were noted among patients.

2. Cinnamon

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Cinnamon stick is a spice available in many households. One research study by Jaafarpour M showed that cinnamon powder in capsule form reduced menstrual cramp, the amount of blood lost at menstruation and also nausea associated with menstrual cramps. 

 3. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a favorite pick among health bloggers and they swear by it's effectiveness in relieving menstrual cramps. A search on medical databases did not yield any useful results, but one research showed up.

Wang Y, Tang M et al published an article mentioning about how chamomile tea consumption increases level of glycine in urine. This indicates a rise in  mean levels of glycine in the blood. Glycine is known to be a muscle relaxant. Hence the authors think this digested product of chamomile tea might be responsible for reducing menstrual cramps in women. More substantial evidence is needed on this subject. 


Conventional teaching is to find a cause for menstrual pain when the problem persists in women past the age of 18 years. Prescription pills like mefenamic acid and indomethacin are commonly used for pain relief related to menstruation. These medications are taken only for short periods during the menstruation to get optimal results. Herbal medication mentioned above will need more stringent study by medical researchers before they can be prescribed as alternatives to medication given by doctors.

For further reading

1. Ginger & Menses

2. Ginger & Menses 2

3. Chamomile Tea & Menses

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