What Causes Period Cramps and Pain?
Nearly 80% of women experience menstrual cramps or pain at some point in their lives. For many women, period cramps, or pain, are simply an inconvenience, but for others, it seriously interferes with their quality of life making one week per month very uncomfortable. So, what’s happening on the inside?
- Periods are part of a woman’s monthly hormonal cycle that prepares the womb to receive a fertilized egg and start a new life.
- When the ovaries release the egg, the female reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, work together to build a special lining in the uterus to feed the egg (this becomes the placenta).
- But, if the egg is not fertilized, this lining is discarded as it’s no longer needed and next month, the cycle starts all over again.
- In order to help your body shed this lining, the muscles of the uterus gently contract to push it out of the body. Ahhh, so this is where the pain comes from.
Some of these contractions are so gentle that we don’t feel them. But when the wall of the uterus contracts, it can squeeze the tiny blood vessels in the uterine tissue, cutting off the supply of oxygen to these tissues.
When this happens, your body releases neurochemicals that signal pain, triggering another release of chemicals, called ‘prostaglandins’, that make your uterus contract harder, increasing your sensation of pain. Ouch!
Why We Need to Nurture the Womb
The womb or uterus is made of very powerful and strong tissue designed to carry and accommodate new life for months, so its tissue can withstand large amounts of pain and pressure. But, despite the immense strength of the uterus, we should not underestimate how much we need to care for it. Uterus health is carefully regulated by a balance of hormones.
Unfortunately, during modern times, unhealthy diets and hectic work schedules have made things worse. Chemicals and toxic substances in the food and unusual amounts of stress placed upon us can disrupt this hormonal sea-saw.
One huge problem with our modern diets is the amount of processed food, and chemicals including pesticides and herbicides added to our food. Substances and chemicals that are detrimental to our health include trans fats, refined sugar, preservatives, and oils that our bodies cannot break down.
These chemicals impact our blood sugar levels, fat stores, and endocrine glands (like the pancreas, thyroid, and ovaries) which in turn impact hormones. Not only are these substances behind life-threatening diseases like heart disease and diabetes, but they cause one of the biggest health issues in our body—inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is triggered by unstable particles called free radicals, which have a myriad of root causes, such as chronic mental stress, processed food, and pollution. Free radicals are dangerous because their unstable nature allows them to damage DNA, blood vessels, and cells in the body, directly leading to health issues, mood problems, and often pain.
As tempting as it is to tuck into a sugar-laden processed food when we are on our period, fast food and exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals, make menstrual cramps worse. So you need to take even more precautions whilst on your period.
A lot of women deal with these menstrual pain and cramps using painkillers to relieve the pain. However, for those that want a natural approach, herbs for period cramps are a great option.
Herbal Teas for Menstrual Cramps
Though free radicals are easily created, nature also created powerful antidotes, called antioxidants, to these harmful particles. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals so they cannot damage your body’s delicate tissues. This is where herbs for period cramps prove very useful.
Antioxidants are present in varying degrees in plants, fruits, and vegetables, and are especially highly concentrated in dried herbs, which is why people often use herbs for menstruation pain.
Herbal teas for period cramps include herbs like ginger, chamomile, hemp, red clover, and raspberry leaf. These herbs work through their powerful antioxidant properties, addressing the physical symptoms (pain, inflammation, etc), and the psychological aspects (mood, stress, etc) of period cramps.
Hemp contains compounds known as cannabinoids. Our body has its own endocannabinoid system (ECS) which contains receptors for these cannabinoids. The cannabinoids in hemp interact with our ECS to reduce inflammation and pain. This is why CBD is popular in various forms, including tea, for pain relief.
Chamomile is a popular ingredient in a lot of teas for menstrual cramps. It is known to be a very soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredient that can relieve pain in the uterus. Chamomile relieves period cramps by reducing the overproduction of prostaglandins that happen during menstruation and are responsible for pain. It also soothes and relaxes the muscles of the uterus and helps you get a sound night’s sleep.
Ginger tea for period pain is quite popular thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Like chamomile, it can help reduce the overproduction of prostaglandins, which cause period cramps. Ginger can also help with other issues like mood swings, nausea, pain, and excessive bleeding.
Damiana is a small woody shrub that originates in central America. Its dried leaves have anti-inflammatory properties and help to regulate fluid retention in the uterus, which causes bloating. It's an ancient herb connected with female reproductive help and also a mild aphrodisiac.
Leaves of the raspberry plant are high in anti-inflammatory compounds, and rich in antioxidants which reduce inflammation and elevate your mood. Other minerals such as potassium found in raspberry leaves could help with bloating and fluid retention. Raspberry leaf tea is used to induce labor in women who are overdue and it stimulates uterine muscle contraction.
Red clover is known for its high isoflavone content. These are compounds that are very similar to the female reproductive hormone, estrogen. This external hormone can help restore a healthier balance of hormones during your menstrual cycle.
Nettle contains very potent antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols. It has been extensively used throughout history for natural pain relief remedies. It can calm down inflammation and help soothe the uterine muscles that are causing the cramps.
The Best Tea For Menstrual Cramps?
While herbs are perfect on their own, did you know that flavinoids and antioxidants are much more potent when combined?
Tea provides two powerful herbs blended for synergistic benefits - reducing menstrual cramps, soothing pain, lifting mood, creating mental clarity, and helping you sleep more easily. The unique blend of herbs is designed to aid you, both physically and psychologically, with the symptoms of menstrual pain.
Nothing feels better than a warm, soothing cup of herbal tea when you are suffering from chronic pain during your periods. When buying tea, think about the benefits beyond just physical pain, such as alleviating stress and improving sleep. These psychological benefits will have an effect on your physical health as well.
Take away the pain, reduce inflammation, and gift yourself with a natural pain-relieving herbal tea that really can reduce the symptoms and sadness associated with menstrual discomfort. Mother Nature has the herbs to heal and we bring them to you in a convenient and high-quality tea.