Drink it, Rub it, Swallow it: 5 Alternative Pain Relievers for Period Pain
We’re never gonna tell you how you should be managing your period. The most we’ll do is gently remind you (okay, shout from the rooftops at anyone who will listen) about the dangers of non-organic tampons and share our own experiences of our period pains decreasing in frequency and intensity when we started using organic, toxin-free tampons (go figure). So don’t worry, we’re not gonna use this space to bash over-the-counter, traditional pain medication (or prescribed meds – your doctor probably knows what’s best for you after all, babe) or tell you you *must* go all-natural, all the time. That’s really not our place. But we have found some alternative pain remedies that we love and we want to share them with you, because we know there’s a lot of you out there who’d like some alternative options to your Tesco-own brand paracetamol but just don’t know where to start. As ever, babe, we’ve got your back (and your vagina).
My mum swears by ginger. Growing up, whenever I was feeling under the weather in any way, her go-to suggestion was a cup of ginger tea, made with fresh ginger. I wanted to know if I’ve always found ginger comforting because of the placebo effect – my mum telling me since I was a kid it would sort me out and me believing her (‘cause mums know everything, right?) or if there was more to it than that. I didn’t have to look far. It turns out ginger is not merely a pretty good alternative to pain medication, in some cases it’s actually been found to be superior to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. The bonus of course being that ginger has none of the side effects of NSAIDs. Wild, right?
From reading this study, I discovered that, while drugs such as ibuprofen block the formation of inflammatory compounds, ginger acts as both a powerful anti-inflammatory and “has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints,” which NSAIDs do not. Now, it’s important to note here that this study looks at the long-term effects on chronic pain (in sufferers of arthritis) so it’s effect on sporadic pain, like menstrual cramps, is less clear. But I can tell you that, next time I’m due on my period, I’m gonna be downing cup after cup of fresh-ginger tea in preparation – this one’s all about prevention, babe.
Oh yes, you have our unreserved permission to go to town on the menage-a-moi (anytime, but especially when you’re cramping). Hey, it’s science.
You might remember from our fad-free wellness article that we pegged CBD (cannabidiol) oil to remain one of the star players of the wellness movement for a long time. While CBD is getting a lot of attention for it’s anti-anxiety effects and the fact that it wins a lot of self-care brownie points (skin, immune system, and overall mood can reportedly be improved by various uses of CBD oil), one of it’s very-much-overlooked superpowers is its ability to reduce period pain. Yep, CBD oil is an excellent plant-based, natural alternative to pain medication for those days when your cramps have not only got you doubled over but feeling pretty damn grumpy too. CBD has a relaxant and analgesic effect, which, simply put, means if you’re experiencing pain, CBD actively relaxes the muscles and helps them not contract so violently.
(And psst, watch this space…)
Whether you opt for a hot, relaxing bath, or prefer to clutch a hot water bottle to your belly while curling up on the sofa, heat therapy has been the go-to cramp-reliever for generations of womxn. Again, this one works by relaxing the muscles, which stops the pain-causing contractions being so severe. It also makes you feel cosy and snuggly, which is just a bonus.
When you are experiencing period pain, it’s because your muscles are contracting violently. Magnesium is known to ease the pain caused by muscle spasms, which could be exactly what you need for your next uterus-self-attack. So, how can you get your hands on some magnesium? Well, long-term it’s a good idea to get more sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds into your diet. Short term, magnesium can be bought in pill form – and it’s also said to reduce the symptoms of fatigue and low energy, which I know we could all use a little more of while we’re on our periods!
P.S. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium and, if you opt for the good stuff (organic, real cacao) it’s much lower in sugar than the very sweet, milky stuff that’s likely to make your cramps worse. So let yourself give into those cravings, babe.
Got some other alternative pain remedies for dealing with your period pains? Let us know in the comments below!
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