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5 Ways to Relieve Period Cramps Naturally

Menstrual cramps are the bane of many women, and to help with that “time of the month,” Fox News has offered up five ways to ease them naturally. The remedies include taking fish oil and vitamin B12; eating more vegetables and less fat; restoring your body’s magnesium balance; heat therapy; and exercise.

These are all good suggestions, but to that list I’d like to add some herbal remedies that have been used quite successfully through the ages to help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and its signature cramps. PMS describes a group of symptoms that may occur one to two weeks before a woman's monthly menstruation. Symptoms vary widely, in both severity and type, but may include acne, swollen or tender breasts, trouble sleeping, irritability and several other ailments such as joint or muscle pain.

Hormone fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle are thought to be a primary cause of PMS, although chemical changes in your brain may also play a role. Low levels of certain vitamins and minerals are associated with PMS, while stress and depression may make symptoms worse. Some herbal remedies to help with these symptoms include red raspberry leaf, valerian (especially for sleep issues), dandelion, chamomile, saffron and fennel seeds.

For especially painful cramps, evening primrose oil, which contains essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), has been found useful, as well as DIM (diindolylmethane), a natural phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. DIM has unique properties that allow it to modify the metabolism of estrogen, promoting optimal estrogen balance and supporting healthy progesterone and testosterone production.

Lavender aromatherapy has also been shown to alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms, which is attributable, at least in part, to the improvement of parasympathetic nervous system activity.
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