7 Natural Menstrual Cramp Remedies -- No Meds Required!

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Have you ever been stranded without meds when your period hit? Or tried to go without pain killers because you thought you could handle the menstrual cramps on your own? I ask like these are terrible misfortunes or masochistic stunts -- and that's because I have a history of crazy insane painful cramps. So when I hear "natural remedies for menstrual pain," I usually roll my eyes and say, "Yes, and also tell me about flying monkeys." I mean, is holding a hot pad over my abdomen really going to do anything?

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But hey, you never know. That's why, skeptic though I am, I'm willing to try some of these "natural" menstrual cramp pain relief alternatives to my favorite (legal) drugs.

1. Drink more water. Dehydration can release the hormone vasopressin, which contributes to cramps. Drinking enough water isn't going to cure your pain, but it can keep your pain from feeling worse. And not worse is better than really bad, right? 

2. Work out. This is something I've actually tested. Since I've been exercising at least three times a week, my cramps have gotten a lot less painful. I'll even work out on the first (usually most painful) day of my period, even though I rarely feel like it. And of course, doing yoga when you're on your period is soothing -- here's some yoga poses to relieve menstrual pain.

3. Acupuncture with vitamin K. In one study, acupuncture treatments with vitamin K injection seemed to reduce severe period pain, along with other symptoms. Acupuncture alone can be effective. Vitamin K supplements are believed to help, though more research is needed to prove this. 

4. Cut the junk food. There are a million reasons to eat healthy, and this is one of them. Even some semi-good for you foods can work against you. Caffeine, alcohol, dairy, fried, and salty foods can make cramps worse. On the other hand, foods rich in calcium and antioxidants can help.

More from CafeMom: 13 Period Disasters & How to Handle Them

5. Have sex. Some women swear off sex during their period. But hey, there's more than one way to shimmy that shake, know what I mean? Being stimulated and climaxing releases hormones that help relieve pain, even if only temporarily.

6. Keep warm. If your legs and abdomen are chilly, warm them up. Take a bath, put on some yoga pants, turn down the air conditioning, and yes, use a heating pad. Warming up will help your muscles relax.

7. Herbs and homeopathic medications. Some herbs (Chaste tree or chaste berry, Cramp bark, Black cohosh, Evening primrose oil, and Turmeric) and some homeopathic medications (Belladonna, Chamomilla, Cimicifuga, Colocynthis, Lachesis, Magnesia phos, Nux vomica, and Pulsatilla) are believed to alleviate menstrual pain, but more research is needed.

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