Articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller

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Herbs That Alleviate Menstrual Cramps

by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller

(The Best Years in Life) Almost all women experience menstrual cramps, even if their premenstrual symptoms are relatively mild. It's normal to feel pain in the lower abdomen as well as in your lower back and even as far down as the thighs. An excess of the hormone-like substances called prostaglandins could be the cause behind these cramps. Prostaglandins are linked to inflammation and pain, but instead of popping an over-the-counter pain pill to deal with uncomfortable menstrual cramps, you might try an herbal remedy instead. Research has shown that certain herbal medications are even more effective at relieving pain than medication.

Chinese Herbal Remedies for Cramping

For hundreds of years, Chinese herbalists have treated menstrual issues with herbal remedies. Research suggests that certain herbs prescribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine could be better at reducing menstrual cramps than pain pills bought over the counter. They might even be more effective than acupuncture, oral contraception, or applying heat.

A report published in 2007 evaluated thirty-nine studies that involved women and Chinese herbs used for menstrual cramps. Nearly 3,500 women participated in these studies combined. The women took herbal formulas comprising mainly five or six herbs. The herbs used varied, but some of the common ones included: 

  • Chinese motherwort

  • Fennel fruit

  • Licorice root

  • Chinese angelica root

  • White peony root

  • Red peony root

  • Cinnamon bark

  • Szechuan lovage root

Participants reported better results from the herbs than groups received no treatment, placebos, medications, and acupuncture.


Studies Show...

Additional studies on natural ways to relieve menstrual cramping have found some remedies that work well by themselves. A 2008 study concluded that Pycnogenol, a supplement made from pine tree bark, can significantly reduce menstrual cramp pain. 

Ginger, a favorite herb for many issues affecting the abdomen, was found to work as well for alleviating menstrual cramp pain as ibuprofen in a study conducted in 2009. The participants were given 250 milligrams of ginger four times daily over the course of thee days. Ginger is thought to help reduce prostaglandin levels.

More Herbal Solutions for Cramps

Some people experience less menstrual cramps from taking black cohosh. The plant estrogens in black cohosh, called phytoestrogens, could be the reason some people cramp less.

Both raspberry and yarrow might help if you're cramping already. The oligomeric procyanidins in raspberry are thought to relax one's uterus. Yarrow is believed to cause relaxation in the uterus as well, particularly in the smooth muscle tissue. Raspberry and yarrow can be added to tea. Typically, one to two teaspoons of dried raspberry leaves or dried yarrow in a cup is a good dose. Drink three cups per day for best results.

Before taking herbal remedies, always consult your physician about appropriate dosages and potential interactions with medications or supplements you might already be taking. Also consider that although some women experience very painful cramps that pose no health risk, severe cramping could indicate a more serious problem. See your doctor immediately if you think there is even a chance that something else could be wrong.

See also:

Ginger Stops Menstrual Pain, Pregnancy Nausea and Much, Much More

Addressing Heavy Menstrual Periods Naturally


About the Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy. Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel, Between Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's Natural Healing Tips blog or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Eclectic Institute Organic Motherwort, 2 fl oz (60 ml)

Motherwort is used for heart conditions, including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat, and heart symptoms due to anxiety. It is also used for the absence of menstrual periods, painful menstrual periods, intestinal gas (flatulence), and over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Full strength. Made in the USA.

Nature's Way Licorice Root

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root is traditionally used to soothe digestion. Has also been used to relieve mentrual pain. 4

Nature's Way Black Cohosh Root

Cohosh is a Native American word meaning "rough", which is descriptive of the herb's rugged black root.Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a traditional herb for women with mild estrogen-like activity. It is especially helpful during menstruation and menopause. 540 mg, 180 Capsules.


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