Hmph. I was just telling a friend of mine last night that when it comes to periods, I don’t think that women get even one full week off from dealing with them. There’s the PMS week that comes before it. There’s the week that we’re on it. There’s the week that we’re recovering from it. There’s the week that we’re ovulating. DAMN.
And when you really sit and ponder the fact that a period is something that we have to deal with for several decades of our life — well, I don’t know about y’all but there is a conscious and constant pursuit on my part to find as many ways as possible to keep from totally losing it (due to being irritated by it) until my cycle passes.
Preferably, I like my remedies to be as natural as possible. If you’re on the same page, here are 10 all-natural things that you can do (that I can actually vouch for) that really can keep you sane whenever Aunt Flo (as grandma used to call her) comes to town.
1. Take Some Evening Primrose Oil
If there’s one oil that I wished that I had gotten into my system a helluva lot sooner than I actually did, it’s evening primrose oil. Not only does it help to heal and prevent acne, ease up eczema-related symptoms and make skin super moist and supple from the inside out, but it’s also a beast when it comes to making PMS symptoms and cramping more endurable.
Thanks to the high amounts of the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), along with the vitamins B6 and E that’s in it, evening primrose oil helps to reduce bloating, minimize breast discomfort, alleviate headaches, and can help to make menstrual cramps less intense. As a bonus, it’s great for menopause-related symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, and even hair loss.
The key is to not wait until your PMS symptoms arise to get into your body. If you want to see the best results, it’s best to take evening primrose oil all month long.
2. Put Some Fresh Roses in Your Room
If there’s one time of the month when you certainly shouldn’t hesitate to pamper yourself, it’s when your period arrives. That’s why you should put a vase of fresh roses in your room (preferably red — no pun intended).
Aside from how the sight of them can help to calm you, did you know that the scent of roses is highly therapeutic too? Yep, aromatherapy is pretty powerful and there are studies to support the fact that taking in the scent of rose can actually help to reduce period pain. Dope.
3. Consume Less Foods…More Often
The bigger the meal, the more energy it requires your body to break it all down in your system. Listen, your body is already taking quite a beating when you’re on your period, so give it a break by eating smaller meals. At the same time, try and consume smaller ones more often, so that you can get the fuel that you need to not just get through your cycle but function as normally as possible in the process too.
For the record, this doesn’t give you license to go to every drive-thru within a 10-mile radius of your house. Junk food can actually make your period worse. This brings me to the next point.
4. Eat Iron-Rich Foods (and Cook Them in a Cast Iron Skillet)
Did you know that every time your period rolls around, you lose around 1 mg of iron? If you’re a heavy bleeder, it can be 5-6 times that much. That’s why it’s super essential that you consume iron-rich foods, in preparation for your cycle and while you’re on it. Dark leafy greens; red grape juice (the pure kind not the cocktail); dried fruit; lentils; oats; red meat; pumpkin seeds; quinoa; shellfish, and dark chocolate all fit the bill.
You know what else does? Cooking in a cast iron skillet. I own one and maybe it’s the Music City (i.e., southern) in me, but I don’t know anyone who takes cooking seriously who doesn’t. And just how does it help you to get iron into our system? Believe it or not, the iron in the skillet actually helps to transfer iron deposits into your food. Just one more solid reason to grocery shop before your period and why cooking more instead of eating out is best for you — all the way around.
5. Also, Consume More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Here’s something that makes a lot of sense (although I’m not sure how many of us actually give it as much thought as we should) — anti-inflammatory foods can help to make cycles easier as well. Long story short, prostaglandins mimic hormones. They are responsible for things like inflammation and uterine contractions. So, when you consume foods that fight against inflammation, that can make your menstrual cramps less severe. Foods that top the anti-inflammatory list include berries; salmon; green tea; peppers; grapes; tomatoes; olive oil; broccoli, and almonds.
6. Avoid Alcohol. Embrace Magnesium-Rich Smoothies.
One more thing as far as your diet is concerned. To be frank, science is still doing quite a bit of research on whether or not alcohol should be an absolute no-no during your period. However, what we do know is alcohol dehydrates the system and dehydration undoubtedly makes cramps worse.
Aside from water and herbal teas, if you’re a fan of smoothies, this would be the time of the month to enjoy a few extra (preferably homemade) ones. Make sure they’re magnesium-rich while you’re at it. The reason why is that it’s a mineral that decreases the discomfort of cramps, increases blood flow, and helps you to sleep better.
Foods that are good sources of magnesium include bananas; spinach; avocados; yogurt; kiwi; raspberries; cantaloupe; papaya, and dark chocolate — all of which are beyond delicious when it comes to ingredients for smoothie recipes.
7. Rub Some Clove and Cinnamon Oils onto Your Abdomen
Imma tell y’all what — if you ever have a toothache, get yourself some clove oil. It will knock that ish right on out! That’s thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can also reduce puffiness, sagginess, and fine lines. Cinnamon oil is loaded with antioxidants and acts as an astringent which makes it an ideal ingredient for a DIY skin toner (just make sure to dilute both oils with water and/or a carrier oil because they are too strong to be applied alone).
Anyway, as far as periods go, the anti-inflammatories of the cloves and cinnamon are proven to reduce period-related discomfort when you apply a mixture of them directly to your abdominal region. If you blend 5-7 drops of each to one cup of olive oil (it’s an oil that also decreases period pain), warm it up and gently rub it in that area, you should feel relief within 30 minutes or less.
8. Take Naps
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a nap that lasts either between 15-30 minutes or 90 minutes (yep, that one…LOL) can help to reduce daytime fatigue, increase alertness and help you to be more productive (cat naps on lunch breaks anyone?). And you know what? All of this applies to you when you’re PMS’ing too. As a bonus, prioritizing naps during that time of the month can also help you to stay in a better mood — so don’t look at extra sleep when you’re PMS’ing and on your period as a luxury; science backs that it is absolutely a necessity.
9. Give Yourself a Lavender Foot Massage
Something else that you shouldn’t sleep on (pun intended) is either getting a massage or giving your own self one during this time of the month. If you apply pressure to your inner ankle, it can ease pain just like massaging your abdomen area will. Not only that but a good 10-15 minute foot and ankle massage can help to increase blood circulation, release toxins and reduce your stress levels too.
If you really want to take things to another level, apply a blend of lavender oil to a carrier one like grapeseed or sweet almond oil, zap it in the microwave for about 10 seconds, and rub the oil on your feet as you’re massaging them. The scent of lavender provides a calming sensation. Plus, lavender oil helps to reduce anxiety, relieve depression and improve your quality of sleep.
10. Sleep in the Fetal Position
Last one. A lot of us continue to sleep in the fetal position because when we were in our mother’s womb, we developed that way. If you’re not one of those individuals, you might want to consider trying to do so when you’re on your period. From what I’ve read and researched, it helps to reduce pressure in the abdominal area which makes cramps less intense.
The more you know, sis. The more you know.
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