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what helps period cramps

Anyone with ovaries (and sympathetic partners) will know the frustration, pain, and potential tantrums that are associated with a period. Curled up in a ball crying one minute, pacing and in pain the next, the time the month is a rollercoaster of emotions and sensations. Whether you have one or all of the symptoms, I feel for you. And I know that pain meds are not always the way (or the only way) to combat the worst of them. So next time you’re about to get hit, try these natural remedies to fight PMS and period cramps!

1.  Drink a cup of tea

Not only does the warmth help loosen the cramping muscles, but many believe that certain types of infusions can help with PMS and cramps, including cinnamon, fennel, ginger, peppermint, chamomile, and raspberry.

2.  Stretch it out

I used to hate when my gym teacher would tell me that gentle exercise would help with my painful period cramps, when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and definitely did not want to run laps around the field. But she was actually right; a lot of PMS symptoms ease up with gentle movement. Exercise gives us endorphins, and endorphins make us happy, according to Elle Woods. And you don’t have to do laps to reap the benefits, as yoga is a great, gentle way to combat mood swings, bloating, and cramps, and more!

3.  Turn up the heat

There’s a reason they sell heat packs for the belly and back for this time of the month. The warmth is soothing, whether you’re drinking a cup of tea, applying direct heat with a hot water bottle, or soaking in a bath. Loosen up those muscles, increase blood flow, and relax!

4.  Change up your diet

According to the folks over at Healthy World People: “Getting more magnesium can also ease the pain of cramps. Magnesium helps regulate nerve and muscle functioning, among other tasks. It’s found in foods such as dry almonds and boiled spinach. You also want to avoid foods and drinks that typically cause bloating and water retention. Some culprits include alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeine and salty foods.” So put down the caffeinated cup of coffee, and pick up a magnesium rich banana if you’re feeling the pain.

5.  Apply some pressure

We all have acupressure points throughout our body that, when gently pressed, can have a whole host of physical and mental benefits. There are pressure points to boost your mood, to ease headaches, and also to help relieve your period cramps. Adjust pressure as needed!

6.  Add herbs to your diet

Remember those wonderful herbs I told you to throw into some boiling water? You can throw them into your meals too, so that they have a lasting effect on your diet and not just a one-time benefit. Cinnamon and ginger are easy to incorporate into oatmeal, chilli recipes, pancakes, and more!

7.  Use apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar seems to be the cure for anything that ails you. Not only can you use it as sunburn relief and to shorten the suffering of colds, you can also use it to lessen your cramps. One spoonful of vinegar in warm water before a meal works best, according to Natural Mavens.

8.  Oil up!

Essential oils are definitely part of the “alternative” medicine line, but take it from me, they are seriously effective at boosting your mood, relaxing you in times of stress, or helping you focus. You can add a few drops of essential oils to a diffuser, to a bath, or to a carrier oil like almond or coconut to rub/massage into the skin. All three are effective ways to combat PMS symptoms like mood swings and cramping. And the five best oils to use during your time of the month? Lavender (calming), Eucalyptus (anti-inflammatory), Rose (hormone regulation), Ylang-Ylang (antidepressant), and Chamomile (relaxing).

9.  Use flower power

According to Bach Flower advice site, “Bach flower essences are extracts from flowers which have a positive effect on emotional imbalances and mood swings such as fear, dejection, lack of self-confidence, stress and worrying.” Similar to essential oils, Bach Flower Essences are a natural way to regulate your emotions. So when you feel the rollercoaster begin, you could reach for Bach Flowers instead of the painkillers (they even have a specific mix for PMS symptoms!)

10.  Get your OM on

Meditation is good for your brain, your body, and your mood. It has so many health benefits, like reducing stress and anxiety, and helping you process emotions and breathe better. The only downside is learning how to sit still. Doing meditation before, during, and after your period will help you stay centered, more serene, and a whole let less grumpy.

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