If you’re a woman, chances are you have experienced some degree of cramping during your period, at some point in your life. Cramps can range from the mildly annoying to the completely debilitating. Most women have come to accept this pain as a part of their regular monthly physiology. I believe this is a sad acceptance and that we should strive to lead a life which is free of the everyday aches, pains and annoyances we have come to consider to be normal.

Period cramps are a message from your body as an early warning sign that something is not quite right. One of the beautiful parts of being a woman is having a period, every month, which is reflective of the health of the rest of our body. If we address imbalances in our cycles when they are merely monthly annoyances, we can prevent more serious pathology in the future.

Have you ever been stuck in the cycle of taking more and more Advil for your period cramps with very little effect? There is a reason why Advil doesn’t really work that well. It is an anti inflammatory medication, but period cramps are muscle spasms and contractions of the uterus. Before you go running to the drugstore, there are many natural muscle relaxants and uterine tonics which work wonderfully.

The cause of cramps is different for every woman. The root cause of the problem can usually be addressed with herbal therapy or nutritional assessment and adjustment. This is the deeper work to permanently correct the problem. There are, however, a few things that can be done, at home, to treat the cramps as a symptom.

The 3 Free Therapies – Sleep, Exercise and Nutrition.

Adequate sleep is important for the function of any system in the body. When menstruating, it’s working overtime to detoxify and shed, so it is important to make sure enough sleep is achieved.

Exercise can be tremendously helpful in relieving cramps. Once the initial fatigue and sluggishness pass, our bodies flood with endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

Eating nutritiously is especially important during menstruation, despite any food cravings that may come up. Avoid processed sugar, dairy products and alcohol, if you experience pain during your period.

Mugwort Tea

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) can be effective in treating menstrual cramps. It is an emmenagogue (which helps stimulate smooth menstrual flow) and a nervine tonic (which helps to normalize and calm the nervous system). It should be taken, as needed, during times of cramping.

Add 1 teaspoon of dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 15 minutes, with a lid.

I encourage women to create a ritual of preparing and drinking the tea. Prepare a hot water bottle for the lower abdomen and curl up with some cozy blankets. Make the tea in a french press coffee maker or simply a mason jar, with a lid. Spend the 15 minute steeping time watching the mugwort leaves infuse. Breathe deeply and inhale the scent of the herb. The volatile oils, which are activated by heat, are one the most medicinally potent part of the plant. They evaporate quickly and easily when heated, so deeply breathe them in! When fully infused, sip your tea and focus on relaxing your whole body.

Ginger Decoction (Boiled Tea)

Fresh ginger root is a wonderful circulatory stimulant which provides much needed warmth, especially in the colder months. It has a specific attraction to the lower belly, which makes it perfect for period cramps.

To make the decoction, cut a large piece of ginger root into thin slices. Put into two cups of filtered water, in a small pot. Boil on med high for 20 minutes. Strain the pieces of ginger and enjoy.

**Note: if your periods are excessively heavy, it is not recommended that you take ginger. There are other herbs which would be more appropriate**

Author's Bio: 

Michelle helps women find lasting solutions to their feminine concerns. She focuses on treating women’s health issues including painful periods, PMS, difficult menopause, PCOS, endometriosis, chronic bladder infections and many more. She has a wealth of clinical experience in this area and offers treatments featuring acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutritional guidance and lifestyle counseling.

She has studied Acupuncture and Western Medical Herbalism at the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto and has over 5000 hours, combined, in the study of both eastern and western/scientific medical models. Her approach to medicine is to find the ideal combination and the best of both worlds, to suit each of her patents' individual needs.

When she isn't treating patients, Michelle can be found knitting socks, writing for her blog, eating oysters, creating (and co-creating) meals for loved ones or hanging out with her Herbal Medicine Textbooks and a very specifically made espresso.