Saturday, August 18, 2012

Menstrual Cramps

I hate cramps. Mine occasionally leave me whimpering in the fetal position on the floor. I have tried all kinds of pain medicines and nothing ever seems to get rid of them completely, not even prescriptions. Shannon takes pity on me when I am completely pitiful and decided to look up ways he could help.

He started with soothing sounds....or what he thought would be soothing sounds anyway. It was a recording of wales and it made me want to throw things at the speakers. At my request, we listened to more meditative music instead.

Then he made me some herbal tea with Dong Quai which contains vitamins E, A and B12. Researchers have isolated at least six coumarin derivatives that exert antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects. (Antispasmodics are a remedy for menstrual cramps.) Research has also shown that dong quai produces a balancing effect on estrogen activity. It is high in iron content and may help to prevent iron deficiency and anemia (which I have). It also has a mild sedative effect which can relieve stress and calms the nerves.

I drank the tea, which tasted less than wonderful, but as long as it worked I didn't care. Then Shannon told me to lie down and proceeded to press various pressure points until I actually started to feel a little better. I don't know if it was the tea or the pressure points or a combination of the two, but I was back on my feet for the rest of the day. I could still feel some cramping, but it wasn't bad enough for the fetal position any more.

Pressure Points to Relieve Menstrual Pain

Bigger Rushing Point

The Bigger Rushing is located on the top of your foot, between your big toe and the toe next to it, the second toe. Locate the web of skin between these two toes and put your index finger between the bones at a depression 1/2 inch up. Using light pressure, press on this spot toward the direction of your second toe for one minute. Increase your pressure as you feel comfortable. Repeat on your other foot or try to push on both feet at the same time.

Sacrum Point

Pushing on the sacrum will help relax your uterus. For this pressure point, you may need someone to assist you. The sacrum is located between your lumbar spine and tailbone. Find the sacrum and move your finger to the point a few finger widths away from the middle of the sacrum. Apply light pressure and increase the pressure as long as you feel comfortable and do not feel pain at this spot.

Grandfather Grandson Point

The Grandfather Grandson point is one of the most important points to relieve any type of menstrual pain, according to "Healing with Pressure Point Therapy" by Jack Forem and licensed acupuncturist Steve Shimer. Locate the joint where your big toe meets the foot. From the joint, move your finger two thumb widths along the bone towards your ankle. Slide your finger just below the bone and apply moderate pressure with your thumbs.

Returning Point

(this one seemed to give me the most relief)
Located two thumb widths to either side of your abdomen, the Returning Point gets its name because it's supposed to return your menstrual cycle to a normal rhythm and relieve cramps. Place your fingers at the pubic area above your genitals and lightly press until you feel your pubic bone. Move your fingers one thumb width above your pubic bone and then press at the points two thumb widths away on either side.

Also, take advantage of therapeutic heat to relax your menstrual cramps. You can either use a traditional heating pad on a low to medium setting or go with a more portable option such as a heat wrap. Therapeutic heat can be a major life savor during the days when your period cramps are the worst.

You can also try a shower massage. Lie on your back in your shower, turn on the hot water, and target the stream of water on your abdominal area. The hot water will ease the pain and relax the muscles. If you have an actual shower massage, set it on a gentle massage.

Other Tips to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

Calcium is your best friend during your period. Consume dairy products such as milk and cheese when you are experiencing painful cramps. Calcium is known for its muscle soothing abilities and studies have shown that women who get adequate amounts of calcium in their diet have far less severe menstrual cramps. Don't have any milk handy? You can chew a couple of Tums to get the calcium your body needs when dairy products are not available.

Tip: Magnesium aids the body's ability to absorb and use calcium. Increasing your magnesium intake during your cycle will help your body put that cramp soothing calcium to good use.

Other Herbal Teas to Relieve Menstrual Cramps



Ginger is widely used as a natural remedy for menstrual disorders of all kinds, particularly painful period cramps. Brew a cup of ginger tea and add a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Not only will the ginger help ease your discomfort, but honey is a natural anti-inflammatory and will ease painful uterine inflammation.

Black cohosh acts as an antispasmodic to muscles, nerves, and blood vessels and as a muscle anti-inflammatory. It also has a balancing effect on hormone production, particularly estrogen. 

Chaste tree is used as a women's herb for menstrual complaints. The flavonoids in chaste tree exert an effect similar to the hormone progesterone, although the plant contains no hormonal compounds. The overall effect is to regulate the menstrual cycle and slightly increase the production of progesterone in women who otherwise have irregular cycles. Chaste tree's berries also can be used for menopausal bleeding irregularities, such as frequent or heavy bleeding; it is often combined with hormonal herbs such as black cohosh or soy. Therapy of six months to one year is usually recommended. Chaste tree is a slow-acting herb and can take months to produce effects.


  1. Great blog thanks. I've used those pressure points and do get some relief but it has never been enough. The herbs you mentioned I've also tried but again.... not enough help. Then I found this packet of Chinese herbs with Dang Gui and other herbs that's amazing. Pain gone in 20 minutes and now I've been using it for a few months and period is sooooooo much easier. Barely any pain and as soon as I drink PMS Relief Herb Pack tea I'm good for the day. I was shocked because I tried everything before this.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I will add that to my list of herbal supplements when I run out of Dong Guai/Dang Gui; I bet that mix tastes a lot better than mine!

  2. Speaking of pressure points, have you considered actual acupuncture rather than pressing the points with your thumb? Some study says it has certain effects in relieving menstrual cramps. And about herbal tea, I recommend chamomile tea for its calming and pain-relieving properties. Elli @ Centennial OB-Gyn, P.A.


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