When menstrual cramps set in, you’re looking for relief – and fast. A stocked pantry with plants that support easeful periods means you have what you need when the minor aches, throbbing tension, or unbearable gripping hits.
Cramps are Common
If you experience cramps during your period, you’re not alone. 85% of respondents to a nationwide survey said they also experience cramps during their period. And yes, they can be mildly to out-of-this-world uncomfortable. Discomfort can have real impacts, it keeps many of us from participating in and enjoying aspects of our daily lives.
Knowing the likely arrival date of a period helps us prepare for the less enjoyable parts of a cycle. It’s a relief to live in a time where people and our periods are beginning to be taken seriously. We have access to apps that help us track our cycle like Clue and Flo. And, remember Body Literacy? An awareness and understanding of the body’s rhythms is super informative and empowering. Plus we have holistic period coaching from companies like Loom. While these resources are incredibly valuable, they’re also pretty new. Something we’ve always had is herbs.
There are many medicinal herbs for period support. There are emmenagogues that support flow, nervines to calm the nervous system, adaptogens to help the body adapt to stress, carminatives that help move gas through the digestive system, and antispasmodics for cramping and other physical discomfort.
Herbs Can Help
Sometimes discomfort that feels like it’s in the uterus is actually in the digestive system. And that’s where lavender is really helpful! You can find lavender in Sweet Dreams and Head Helper, but it’s also a great plant to stash in your spice cabinet to sprinkle in your daily tea. This tiny flower is effective for stagnation in the GI tract especially if you experience gas, burping, and nausea in tandem with your flow. Lavender is also a nervine and anxiolytic, meaning it helps to calm the nervous system and disperse stress.
Valerian is a well-known “sleep plant” and part of why it's so good at helping people rest is because of its anxiolytic and antispasmodic effects. If you experience physical discomfort leading up to your period, Valerian can help to calm your body physically and emotionally as it works to soothe muscles, release tension, and ease stress. You can find valerian in Sweet Dreams, but it's handy to have around to include in baths with lavender and chamomile. These herbs work together to relax tight muscles and prepare your body for rest.
If there’s one thing ginger does incredibly well, it’s move blood. And if you’re looking to get your blood moving it's way more effective to work with dried ginger than fresh ginger (which is great for nausea from motion sickness). Impaired blood circulation could contribute to stuck sensations and discomfort in your pelvic region. You can find ginger in our Solar Flare Tea, but we also love to keep dried ginger around to brew a weak tea that you can soak a rag or towel in and then apply topically to crampy areas. It’s also really great to throw in broths.
4. California Poppy
California poppy is maybe one of the go-to herbs for spasmodic discomfort aka cramping, tightening, and aching that comes in bursts. Like period cramps, for example. Its antispasmodic actions are felt system wide and target the pelvic region, digestive system, plus tension in the head, neck and shoulders. You can find California poppy in Head Helper. It’s a delightful herb to keep stocked in your kitchen and add to soothing, nutritive teas.
5. Cramp Bark
If you experience discomfort that starts in the back and then radiates throughout the groin and thighs, this is the herb for you. Cramp bark is also helpful if you experience mood swings and irritability before or during your cycle. You can find cramp bark in Menstrual Magic, but it’s also a great herb to keep stocked in your kitchen, because Cramp Bark is effective internally taken as a tincture or decoction, plus it's great to add to broths. It is also effective when prepared as an infused oil and applied topically to your legs, groin, or back.
I was absolutely blown away by Menstrual Magic this month. I struggle with such bad period symptoms, and this was a game changer for me!
Cinnamon is not just a cute garnish on a latte, it's a powerful - and very old - medicinal herb. It’s effective for pelvic stagnation, helping the blood to move through the uterus and ovaries to ease your flow and soothe menstrual discomfort. Its gentle warmth, familiar smell, and spicy sweetness also offer their own comfort. Whichever cinnamon you have in your cabinet will work great and can be a trusted friend anytime of month. Add ground cinnamon to your favorite smoothie or don’t lift a finger and have someone whip you up a batch of coffee cake to enjoy reclined on your sofa.
Hibiscus flower is a delicious, tart remedy with traditional use in warmer parts of the world. It’s traditionally used to alleviate patterns of stagnancy in the bowels, to help heat release from the body, and to soothe menstrual cramps. It’s also toning and tightening to the digestive tract, so if you feel tense and tight in your pelvic region before your period, but things start moving a little too much once your flow starts, then hibiscus might be a good match for you. You can find hibiscus in The Light Ray and Solar Flare Tea.
Medicinal herbs that soothe period cramps also have the added benefits of helping us rest, calming our nervous systems, helping our blood move, and providing pleasure with flavor and comforting color. Herbs make it possible to not just survive but thrive during your period.