More than half of women who have periods get some pain around their cycle.
For some the pain is mild and for others, the pain is severe enough to stop them from being able to engage in normal activities for several days a month. 1
The pain typically starts 1-2 days before the start of menstruation and lasts until the third or fourth day of the period.
There are safe, gentle, and effective natural alternatives to over-the-counter medicines to relieve menstrual cramps.
Medicinal herbs can also support and regulate your cycle, hormones, and fertility, contributing to overall physical well-being.
Here are some of my favorite herbs for regulating the menstrual cycle and reducing menstruation pain.
Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)
Red Raspberry Leaf is an amazing plant for women's reproductive health. Raspberry leaf tea is full of nutrients including iron, calcium, manganese and magnesium, vitamins B1, B3, C, and E.
The European monograph on raspberry leaf has approved its use as a traditional herbal medicinal product for the symptomatic relief of minor spasms associated with menstrual periods. 2
It contains fragarine and tannins, which are known for easing PMS symptoms and discomfort during menstruation. Due to its strong fragrine content, Red Raspberry Leaf also aids in toning the uterus, 3 which may help to regulate the period length.
Red Raspberry Leaf can be consumed as a tea before and during your periods and works best when used on a regular basis. Try two cups a day the week before your period.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a soothing and anti-inflammatory herb effective in relieving menstrual pain and common discomfort during menstruation, such as bloating, fatigue, and nausea.4 Compounds found in Ginger protect against inflammation by regulating the production of prostaglandins, an inflammatory chemical that leads to menstrual cramps when produced excessively.
Also, Ginger can also help reduce heavy bleeding during menstruation. Ginger can be taken as a tea (made with fresh or dried Ginger) or in capsules as a dietary supplement.
A few cups of hot ginger tea (use caution) daily within the first few days of the cycle is best. I personally use this method for menstrual discomfort, passed down from my grandmother and mother it has been very effective.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
This lovely herb is most popular for its natural calming properties. But it also functions well as an antispasmodic. 5
Most research has been done on valerian and how it helps with sleep.
Research suggests that taking valerian root may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, as well as improve sleep quality and quantity. 6
Sleep and the inability to fall asleep during the menstrual cycle can contribute to discomfort and negative feelings. Hence, Valerian is a great herb when looking for a more restful period week
Chamomile is frequently used for its relaxing and calming properties. These behaviors aid in calming an anxious state of mind. Chamomile's use for relieving period cramps goes back as far as ancient Roman times.
Today, chamomile is one of the best options to help adults relax and ease discomfort.
If you are experiencing very painful menstrual cramps, consult a medical expert before using any medicinal herbs.
1. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods
2. Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC). Community Herbal Monograph on Rubus idaeus L., Folium. European Medicines Agency: London, UK, 2012. [Google Scholar]
3. Whitehouse B. Fragarine an inhibitor of uterine action (Preliminary communication) Br Med J. 1941;2(4210):370–371. [Google Scholar]
4. Slattery, E. (2022) Ginger Benefits. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/ginger-benefits (Accessed: January 10, 2023).
6. Mirabi P, Dolatian M, Mojab F, Majd H. Effects of valerian on the severity and systemic manifestations of dysmenorrhea. Int J Gynaecol Obs. 2011;115(3):285–288. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.06.022