The menstrual cycle is pretty miraculous when you think about what it allows our bodies to do. But from the blood to the mood swings, bloating and cramps, periods can also take a lot out of you. You might be used to reaching for Midol, some chocolate and curling up on the couch for a few days, but there’s actually a ton of natural remedies you can try to alleviate some of your symptoms. Using these tips and tricks might get you to the point where you actually feel normal throughout the entire month, instead of the rollercoaster ride that the menstrual cycle can be:
1. Up your magnesium intake! Whether through a supplement or an epsom salt bath, getting extra sources of magnesium can be a huge help for period cramps, headaches and bloating. The naturally relaxing mineral helps soothe muscle tension, and since the uterus is a muscle, magnesium can help ease any period pain. Make sure to take a high quality, chelated magnesium supplement, and always follow the label.
2. Two words: Cycle Syncing. If you’ve never heard of this concept before, prepare to have your mind blown. During the month-long or so cycle women go experience, there are four different phases, and everything from our hormones, energy levels and metabolism are different depending on the phase. But through food and lifestyle, you can actually eat, work, exercise and socialize your way to an easy symptom free cycle. There’s tons of articles, podcasts and books about it, but I’d suggest starting with Alisa Vitti, who created the method.
3. Ginger is the new ibuprofen. Not actually, but some people find it to be just as effective in relieving abdominal cramping and pain during their periods. It’s an anti-inflammatory that works to inhibit your body’s production of prostaglandins which there tends to be an excess of during menstruation. You can of course eat it and drink ginger tea, but if you really want to feel the effects, try supplementing with ginger capsules and take them from the start of your period onwards.
4. Sip on some raspberry leaf tea throughout the day. Ideally you want to avoid caffeine during your period, so vitamin and mineral rich raspberry leaf tea is the perfect warm drink alternative. The secret ingredient that makes it so period friendly is fragrine, an alkaloid that helps strengthen and tone the uterus, which in turn helps reduce cramping. Bonus: raspberry leaf tea also contains magnesium!
5. Try some light stretching and gentle movement! Instead of forcing yourself to continue to do your usual intense workouts during your period, switch them out for some light stretching, yoga and walking. Our energy naturally falls during our period, but moving your body can still feel good, and when it’s gentle it will be relaxing yet energizing.
6. Eat more progesterone boosting foods like sunflower seeds, almond, flaxseeds, salmon, and avocado. The nutrients in these foods will help boost your progesterone levels naturally, which is key to having an easy flow because low progesterone can actually make PMS symptoms worse. You can also try a vitamin E supplement if you’re looking for a little extra boost!
Julia Gibson is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, functional foods recipe developer, and write currently based in Toronto. She hopes to inspire and empower others by creating nourishing foods, living a sustainable life, promoting holistic healing and sharing thoughtful writing.