Despite years of child bearing and all the fun and games that go with it, I don’t think anything quite prepared me for the big changes my body would go through once I hit a perimenopausal stage of life.
What used to be a time of the month to simply get my big girl pants on (literally) and get on with life with little inconvenience has suddenly become a huge part of the month that I dread – if only I knew which part of the month it would now strike. You hear me, right mamas?
Energy levels feel lower and we know that we need to take care of our bodies. Never have I been more fond of tea than when my body is shouting at me to slow down and feed it something that it really needs – rather than my usual vices.
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The cause of period cramps
Without getting into all the gory medical details, I think it’s important for us to quickly step back to a little bit of high school biology 101 to remember why we get these horrible cramps and bloated feeling.
- Dysmenorrhea is the scientific name for that awful lower body pain we refer to as period pain or menstrual cramps. 40-70% of women are regularly affected with primary dysmenorrhea, with 10% of women describing their symptoms as severe. (source)
- Secondary dysmenorrhea is associated with later onset menstrual pain resulting from anatomic or macroscopic pelvic pathology – i.e. issues with your reproductive organs. It’s most commonly observed in women over 30+.
- Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts to expel the excess blood and tissue that builds up in the second half of the menstrual cycle. A rise in prostaglandin levels can cause diarrhea and cramping.
- Periods are not only uncomfortable, but drain us of energy too. And as we know (but yes, often forget or dismiss down the priority order) our bodies need energizing with the right fuel. If you’re reading this – you probably know just how debilitating it can be and are seeking out some home remedies to alleviate your discomfort.
The most obvious thing we need to drink, even more than normal, is WATER. Lemon water is a great way to fuel your body at any time. But we all want more than just water, right?
Here’s where a wonderful warm cuppa can come to your rescue. Not just soothing for warmth and hydration, but many magical medicinal properties too to get us through those horrible days of the month.
What tea is good for menstrual cramps?
Whilst I’ll admit I’m a big fan of my good old English Breakfast with brekkie, there are plenty more beneficial teas that we can use to give our body the fuel it needs at that all-important time of the month.
Here are 7 favourites I’ve discovered to sip on when coping with menstrual cramps, discomfort and low energy levels:
Ginger Tea for period bloating and nausea
A long-time champion tea for soothing our aches and aches and ailments, ginger is proven to relive both pain and nausea. Regular ginger consumption may alleviate period cramping and reduce heavy blood flows. Ginger works so well as it binds to a receptor known as the Ht3 which stops the nausea signal to the brain.
It is slightly spicy with anti-inflammatory properties, so if you’re feeling bloated too, fresh dried ginger or ginger tea bags are the one for you.
Peppermint tea for period cramps
Known for it carminative properties, peppermint soothes the tummy and alleviates unwanted gassiness and bloating. The menthol found in peppermint can help relax the uterine muscles to ease menstrual cramps.
Dandelion tea for menstrual bloating
Not one of the tea’s you commonly come across every day in the supermarket but may be worth taking yourself along to a health store to give this one a try. Dandelion tea works as a diuretic so it is great for when you’ve also got that swollen and bloated feeling, it will help you with shifting excess fluids out of your system and can assist with reducing breast swelling and bloating.
Raspberry leaf to relieve period cramping
You may remember this beautify from when you were trying to bring on labour? Well it does have more uses so certainly don’t be giving it away after baby birthing years are gone. You see raspberry leaf tea contains fragine, which helps tone the uterine and pelvic muscles, which in turn helps decrease bloating and cramping symptoms.
Decaffeinated green tea
I can’t tell you how crushed I was the day I worked out how much caffeine was in green tea. Lesson learnt, I’ve found there are many green tea alternatives – still derived from the Camellia sinensis tea plant – that contain the powerful catechins (a natural antioxidant) that help prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation.
Green Tea is also a natural diuretic which can help decrease water retention and alleviate menstrual symptoms including bloating and cramping.
Fennel tea for menstrual bloating
Made from the seeds of the fennel plant, fennel tea contains a compound emmenagogue which stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus. Fennel seeds are packed full of anti-inflammatory properties perfect for the reduction of menstrual bloating.
Chamomile tea for period pain
Last but not least, our favorite soothing sip chamomile, is of course also great for period pain. Chamomile can help you with sleep and irritability so is a great one for calming you off to bed. It has a mild sedative effect which can help relieve the discomfort of period pain.
Chamomile is it is also believed to decrease inflammation and improve circulation – a bit of a bedtime super hero really!
Drink them alone or together?
Of course there’s no harm in drinking these flavours in combination with one another, or at different times of day.
Why not try a green tea after brekkie, a peppermint pick me up mid-afternoon (you some even get a peppermint & fennel combo) and a chamomile & ginger cuppa before bed.
What drinks to avoid during your period
Ok, I know it should go without saying, but for the record, cut out the booze. I know, I know. Advice we will all readily ignore once that glass of wine is poured. I, for one, was always more found of a nice big glass of red and a quiet spot with my heat pack than a tea… but oh how times change!
The main reason is quite simple. Alcohol dehydrates.
And dehydration can thicken menstrual fluids and blood, making it more difficult for them to pass. Alcohol consumption can also exacerbate PMS symptoms with alcohol-induced production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in the body.
Can I drink coffee during my period?
Yep, hate to say it but all caffeinated drinks should go or be significantly cut back for a few days when symptoms are at their worst.
Caffeine can increase how many cramps you experience and cause vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood vessels), which can further worsen cramping.
It is thought dairy – including milk, cheese might actually exacerbate the symptoms (so there go my lattes). Ice cream and other dairy foods contain an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which may worsen inflammation and increase the release of prostaglandins, which cause cramping.
Avoid sugary drinks
We shouldn’t be putting away too many sugary drinks anyway, right? Especially around that time of the month the sugar can actually trigger cramping so steer clear!
I’m not suggesting you all go dance on the beach now and have a “happy period”, but we do hope this guide to period teas can bring you some comfort on those most trying and painful days.
If your periods are worsening over time, do seek professional medical advice, there can be more at play than just your period such as uterine fibroids and certain types of cancer. The recommendation on this page are generic in nature and do not substitute qualified medical opinion.
Interested in learning more about tea? Head over to our Tantalising Teas home page to learn more about medicinal teas for women’s health through to fabulous and unique tea recipes you can try at home.