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Midwife's Guide to Reducing Menstrual Cramps

Updated on March 25, 2012

Sharing my collection

Many of our modern food sources have been exposed to growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides which play havoc with our own hormonal balances. Many women get relief by avoiding exposure to these chemicals by not eating foods most likely to have them or going "organic".

There is not a lot of scientific evidence to support the use of the supplements, herbs and other suggestions listed below. The evidence is the persistence of use of these treatments through the years and word of mouth of effectiveness. One of the most effective treatments for menstrual cramps is hormonal contraceptives, but some do not want to take them or can't.

I have collected this list of non-hormonal remedies and have passed them on to my patients for about 15 years and now will share them with you. As I tell my patients, I don't expect you to try this entire list at once. You may have to experiment to find which combination of recommendations will work for you. And as always, keep in mind that stress management and exercise are an important part of feeling well and keeping hormones balanced.

The List:

1. Stop dairy foods or change to organically produced dairy products. Ice cream, cottage cheese and yogurt are particularly guilty culprits.

2. Limit red meat and egg yolks to 2 times a week. Ideally use low fat cuts from organically raised sources.

3. Avoid refined carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, chips and crackers.

4. Increase intake of essential fatty acids like sardines, salmon and swordfish. An alternative is to use Fish or Flaxseed oil 500mg, 4 times a day.

5. Avoid trans-fatty acids. These are what makes oleo and shortening solid. They are also found in many prepared foods and listed as hydrogenated oil.

6. Take a good quality multivitamin/mineral supplement daily. It should contain a B complex.

7. Vitamin B6 100 mg Daily.

8. Magnesium 100 mg every 2 hours during the menstrual period or 3-4 times daily all month long.

9. Vitamin E (d-alphatocopherol) 50 mg 3 times daily

10. Cramp Bark Tincture (viburnum opulus) Follow package directions or 3-5 droppersful, 3-5 times a day. Take with Valerian for best effect.

11. Valerian (valerian officinalis). Follow package directions or 300-400 mg a day of 0.5% essential oil.

12. Ibuprofen 400 mg. every 4 hours. Take as soon as menstrual period begins. More effective if taken before cramping is bad. Ibuprofen taken through the menstrual cycle will also reduce the amount of bleeding.

Final word and mild warning

The supplements and herbs listed above are safe for most people. If you have any medical conditions or are on any prescriptions medications be sure to check with your health care provider or pharmacist to make sure there is no risk for side effect of interaction. Be wiser, ask.


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    • Bea Wiser profile image

      Bea Wiser 5 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Any type of squash will work. Some types may have more mag than others but I don't have the breakdown. I say eat what you love. Yum!

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 5 years ago from USA

      That is an interesting way to know which have mag in them. For squash - does winter and summer squash work or just one of them?

    • Bea Wiser profile image

      Bea Wiser 5 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Oh yeah, the GI side effect thing. Well , the best way to get any mineral or vitamin is in our food but even then there can be side effects. Foods with lots of mag. also have lots of fiber . Foods with magnesium include legumes, whole grains, vegetables (especially broccoli, squash, and green leafy vegetables), seeds, and nuts (especially almonds). dairy products, meats, chocolate and coffee. You need to increase gradually to avoid the gas and diarrhea that bothers some.

    • Lwelch profile image

      Lena Welch 5 years ago from USA

      Do you have any tips for the larger doses of magnesium that you mention? I take 400 mg/day for migraines. I have played with the type of magnesium and thus far found 2 I can do at 400/day. I was up at 800 for about 2 months but when my cycle hit, so did the GI stuff. It wasn't horrid, but irritating enough to take the dose lower. I tried again with 600 a little later and had the same thing happen.

      For cramps and PMS I used to love the PMS escape drink mix. Cured my PM insomnia. Wish it was still around!