3 Favourite Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

Dr. Amanda Capasso

3 Favourite Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

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Menstrual cramps are one of the most common symptoms of PMS. Medically menstrual cramps are referred to as dysmenorrhea and are classified as primary or secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is menstrual cramping without an underlying pelvic pathology.  Primary dysmenorrhea usually starts right from puberty and get better with age. The pain begins the day before or the day of menses and resolves shortly thereafter. The pain is due to increased prostaglandins and inflammation causing the uterine lining to shed. Secondary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by an underlying pathology such as endometriosis and it differs from primary dysmenorrhea in that it can start up to 1-2 weeks before menses and continue after menses has stopped. The onset of pain usually begins after 20 years of age and worsens over the reproductive lifetime. Herbal medicine can be really helpful for menstrual cramps. These are my three favourite herbs:

  1. Crampbark. Crampbark is a uterine relaxant and general antispasmdic. When menstrual pain is spasmodic (as opposed to dull/achey) and includes low back pain, crampbark is the way to go.
  2. Valerian. Valerian relaxes smooth muscle to relieve pain and also decreases anxiety which is another common symptom of PMS. Valerian tastes awful so I rarely use it in a tea but more often recommend it in tablet form.
  3. Ginger. Ginger is an extremely safe herb with few side effects and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is also inexpensive and I often add it in on treatment plans with other herbs for added benefit.

Life’s too short to suffer through menstrual cramps every month. If you are interested in learning more about naturopathic medicine and treatments for menstrual cramps please contact me via email.