It’s been 15 years since I got my first period; amidst this long span of time, my body has changed in many ways and so has my lifestyle—I have put on weight (almost 20 kilos more), I have a sedentary lifestyle, exercising is once-in-a-blue-moon kind of affair, I don’t have a fixed eating schedule, I often skip meals, I drink too much coffee (almost 3 to 4 cups a day), I live in one of the most polluted cities of India (New Delhi) and the list is too darn long… However, in the middle of all these life-modifications, one thing that has been a constant for me ever since my first period is – unbearable cramp. My mother tried homeopathy on me for a while when I was younger, it didn’t really work wonders for me.
My kinda pain is not regular pain – my monthly cramps almost make me immobile. During the first two days of my menses, I can’t sleep, walk or eat properly. I spend my day lying down, crying, clinging on to my pillow, praying for relief. I often miss work and I take 2 to 3 pain killers a day. It’s a terrible habit, I know…but when survival becomes questionable, what else can you do? After much reading up about healing cramps with homemade remedies, I tried few things two weeks prior to my periods. I am on my second day today, and this is the first time in my life, I am off pain killers. Here’s what I have been doing:
Water- yes, it works! Drinking plenty of water helps avoid painful bloating during menstruation. I have been drinking 4 liters of water every day, and I start and end my day with a cup of warm water. If I am feeling too fancy, I would dip in some fruit-infused tea bag in my cup. Luke warm water is very beneficial for cramps because it aids in increasing blood flow and in the process relaxes cramped muscles. If you want to add some flavour and colour to your water, add berries, watermelons, cucumbers or mint leaves in your bottle, and keep replenishing it the whole day.
Calcium- Proper calcium dosages can reduce muscle cramps during periods. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, sesame seeds, almonds and leafy green vegetables. I have been having a handful of almonds and a cup of milk every morning for breakfast, and I eat a lot of raw greens for dinner, like spinach, lettuce, sautéed broccoli, et cetera. Calcium is also available in supplement form; but you should speak to your doctor before taking supplements to find out if it’s safe for you.
Cinnamon- I love cinnamon; I use this aromatic spice in cooking Indian meals regularly. Few days back, I was down with cough and cold when my mother-in-law suggested, cinnamon boiled in water as a very effective remedy. And yes it was. Ever since then, I just got used to sipping some hot water, boiled with cinnamon sticks as my post office ritual. Turns out, cinnamon also soothes menstrual cramps. Moreover, this spice is an excellent source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese, which may also act as relievers.
Ginger- I love ginger in any form. When we were kids, my father used to sauté ginger in desi ghee to cure cough and cold. He would also sprinkle black salt on thinly sliced ginger and put it in our mouths to cure dry cough. The love for ginger grew ever since and has only gotten stronger since it helps reducing cramps. Grate some ginger in water and heat it up; keep sipping for cramp relief.