Some of these herbs may help with cramps and pain, while others might help with bloating and digestion. Since we all experience different levels of period pain and premenstrual syndrome, I recommend keeping a diary to keep track of what works for you. Just a reminder that the effects of natural herbs may vary for each of us.
Here is a selection of widely recognized herbs for period pain:*
Chamomile – A natural anti-inflammatory herb that has been clinically studied for its use in pain relief involved with inflammation. Chamomile contains glycine, a chemical that can help relieve muscle spasms and act as a nerve relaxant (1).
Chaste tree berry (vitex agnus castus) – This is one of the most popular herbs for period pain and PMS in Europe. Over the past 50 years, 30 European trials of chaste tree berry have reported improvement of menstrual and menstruation-related disorders (2). In clinical trials for the treatment of PMS, chaste tree berry reduced some symptoms, especially breast pain or tenderness, edema, constipation, irritability, depressed mood, anger, and headache (3). It can be taken in various forms including as a tincture or as a a tea. Be warned - as a tea, it tastes pretty terrible, but it's well worth it! Don’t take this herb if you take hormone replacement medications and oral contraceptives (check out the fact sheet for more info and warnings). For reference, this is the rock star herb that motivated us to start Bootsy Health and is the key ingredient in our Hormone Balancing Elixir.
Cramp bark – Is just as the same suggests, is said to relieve period cramps. Studies have suggested that both species have antispasmodic effects on the uterus and show a relaxant effect on uterine tissue (4). It is known to contain yiopudial, a chemical that is said to provide cramp relief. For hundreds of years, it has been used as a sedative for the uterus as well as for PMS and menstrual cramping.
Dandelion leaf – For many women, dandelion lead if a natural diuretic, so can help with the bloating and water retention that many women experience leading up to their During the pre-stages of your period, water weight and bloating can be a problem for many women, but dandelion leaf is a natural diuretic and was used by native Americans relieving menstrual cramps (5).
- Ginger – This wonder herb has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine as an anti-inflammatory substance. In fact, one clinical study showed ginger as capable of relieving menstrual cramps as ibuprofen (6). This delicious root herb has many anti-inflammatory properties, it's arguably a win all round!
Peppermint – A natural digestive aid, peppermint is popular in many teas because well, it's tasty! It is also said to help relieve nausea, bloating, and indigestion (7).
1. Lemberkovics E, Kéry A, Marczal G, Simándi B, Szöke E. Phytochemical evaluation of essential oils, medicinal plants and their preparations. Acta Pharm Hung. 1998;68:141–149.
2. Rotblatt M, Ziment I, eds. Evidence-based herbal medicine. Philadelphia: Hanley & Belfus, 2002.
3. Schellenberg R. Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. BMJ. 2001;322:134–7.
4. Jarboe CH, Schmidt CM, Nicholson JA, and Zirvi KA (1966) Uterine relaxant properties of Viburnum. Nature212:837.
5. Clare BA, et al, J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):929-34
6. Ozgoli G1, Goli M, Moattar F Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea in J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):129-32. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0311.
7. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytother Res. 2006;20:619-33. Review.
This article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose any condition or act as a replacement for a medical consultation.