Delightful 5: Natural Ways to Reduce Cramps
Let's get down to it: cramps are the total worst. I've been the girl who went home from school early, popped Advil like candy, groaned and moaned on the couch, got on birth control just to ease the pain...you name it. The last six years have been particularly difficult for me in this area as I've had symptoms of endometriosis and ovarian cysts. As is typical with both these things, I've yet to be completely diagnosed. So combine that fear of the unknown with pain that's really real and you can imagine how great that time of the month is for me. And, subsequently, my husband.
Despite all that, I'm not afraid or ashamed to talk about these things. I've found a lot of comfort from women online who know how I feel and so I'm here to tell you: I know how you feel. And I even have a few ideas that may make you feel better, so let's get down to it.
1. Coconut Water
It keeps you hydrated, the calcium helps to relax your muscles (and tummy pains), reduces bloat, and the potassium helps hinder severity of pain. I'm a big fan of chocolate coconut water this time of the month because chocolate.
2. Vitamin D
Take a walk in the sun. Exercise give you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and happy people don't kill people! Sorry...went a little Elle Woods there. But it's true! When I'm in pain the last thing I want to do is work out, but I can't think of a single time that it didn't ease the pain. Combined with Vitamin D, it's the perfect recipe for relaxed muscles and a better mood.
There are particular poses that actually reduce pain and help your internal organs work efficiently to keep everything flowing well. I like to put on an easy practice video and just pay attention to what feels good. Look up bow pose: The body’s pressure on the abdomen positively stimulates the organs of digestion and reproduction, which helps to relieve constipation and menstrual discomfort. [source]
4. Evening Primrose Oil
This is a new one for me that I just started trying this month. It's supposed to support a women's levels so that we're equalized throughout the month. It also has the potential to soothe cramps through its omega-6 essential fatty acids.
If you're getting too much calcium but not evening it out with magnesium, muscles contract causing stress upon stress. I've been taking this supplement off and on (when I can afford it) to give my muscles the opportunity to breathe. You can buy single servings at Whole Foods and Sprouts to give it a try. It's especially important to get magnesium when your cycle is coming up, as our levels drop two weeks prior. This can contribute to retaining water, cramping, getting headaches, and an oversensitive nervous system. If you do nothing else on this list, add a magnesium supplement.
I can't say that any one thing has "healed" the pain, and I do pop an Aleve on the worst days, but I'm absolutely happier to be proactive and give my body what it needs. Not to mention the mental high I get from saying no to ice cream and Netlix :)
Do you have any go-to's or tips to reduce cramps? Let me know in the comments!