the science (yin & tonic)

Vitamin B1

Don’t underestimate this lil guy – Vitamin B1 is one of the key players when it comes to period pain. the nutrient plays an important role in contracting muscles and conducting nerve signals. And if we know anything about period pain, it’s that contracting muscles are public enemy #1. Many researchers believe that period cramps may be a result of a subtle B1 deficiency, which is why we added this crucial supplement to Yin & Tonic. 

Azadimoghtader, M. (2016). Effect of Vitamine B1 on the intensity primary dysmenorrheal. Preventive Care in Nursing & Midwifery Journal6(1), 1-7.

Gokhale, L. B. (1996). Curative treatment of primary (spasmodic) dysmenorrhoea. The Indian journal of medical research103, 227-231

Hosseinlou, A., Alinejad, V., Alinejad, M., & Aghakhani, N. (2014). Effects of fish oil capsules and vitamin B1 tablets on duration and severity of dysmenorrhea in students of high school in Urmia-Iran. Global journal of health science6(7), 124

Montiel-Ruiz, R. M., González-Trujano, M. E., & Deciga-Campos, M. (2013). Synergistic interactions between the antinociceptive effect of Rhodiola rosea extract and B vitamins in the mouse formalin test. Phytomedicine20(14), 1280-1287

Nayeban, S., Jafarnejad, F., Nayeban, S., & Sefidgaran, A. (2014). A Comparison of the Effects of Vitamin E and Vitamin B1 on the Severity and Duration of Pain in Primary Dysmenorrhea. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health2(2), 143-146

Tofighi Niaki, M., Zafari, M., & Aghamohammady, A. (2012). Comparison of the effect of Vitamin B1 and Acupuncture on Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea. ISCA J Biological Sci1(1), 62-6

Zafari, M., Aghamohammady, A., & Tofighi, M. (2011). Comparing the effect of vitamin B1 (vit. B1) and ibuberofen on the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol5(7), 874-8

Zamani, M., & Soltan, B. F. (2001). Evaluation the treatment effect of vitamin B1 in primary dysmenorrhea

Vitamin B6

Depression, irritability, fatigue… sound familiar? These emotional side effects associated with PMS and menstruation are often products of manageable hormonal imbalances. What’s this got to do with B6? Vitamin B6 plays a huge role in the production of the neurotransmitters which affect mood. Taking 100mg of B6 a day has been found to correlate with a decrease in overall PMS symptoms – especially feelings of depression – and alleviation of emotional side effects such as irritability and fatigue.

But B6 isn’t quite done with impressing us just yet – it’s also thought to play a role in hormone regulation. Through a complex pathway, vitamin B6 may reduce the level of oestrogen in the body, potentially relieving endometriosis-related symptoms and symptoms of hormonal imbalances caused by an overproduction of oestrogen.

Abraham, G. E., & Hargrove, J. T. (1981). Effect of vitamin B-6 on premenstrual symptomatology in women with premenstrual tension syndromes: a double blind crossover study. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey36(5), 259-261

Barr, W. (1984). Pyridoxine supplements in the premenstrual syndrome. The Practitioner228(1390), 425

Brush, M. G., Bennett, T., & Hansen, K. (1988). Pyridoxine in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a retrospective survey in 630 patients. The British journal of clinical practice42(11), 448-452

Brush MG. Vitamin B6 treatment of premenstrual syndrome. In: Leklem JE, Reynolds RD, eds. Clinical and physiological applications of vitamin B6. New York: Liss, 1988: 363-79. (Current topics in nutrition and disease, vol 19)

Colin C. Studies on the treatment of mastalgia. Rev Med Brux 1982;3:605-9

De Souza, M. C., Walker, A. F., Robinson, P. A., & Bolland, K. (2000). A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Journal of women’s health & gender-based medicine9(2), 131-139

Diegoli, M. S. C., Da Fonseca, A. M., Diegoli, C. A., & Pinotti, J. A. (1998). A double‐blind trial of four medications to treat severe premenstrual syndrome. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics62(1), 63-67

Doll, H., Brown, S., Thurston, A., & Vessey, M. (1989). Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and the premenstrual syndrome: a randomized crossover trial. The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners39(326), 364-368

Ebrahimi, E., Motlagh, S. K., Nemati, S., & Tavakoli, Z. (2012). Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Journal of caring sciences1(4), 183

Fathizadeh, N., Ebrahimi, E., Valiani, M., Tavakoli, N., & Yar, M. H. (2010). Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research15(Suppl1), 401

Jia-li, C. (2011, December). Clinical observation about 40 cases of primary dysmenorrheal with the treatment of Marvelon & Vitamin B6. In 2011 IEEE International Symposium on IT in Medicine and Education (Vol. 1, pp. 517-519). IEEE

Kashanian, M., Mazinani, R., Jalalmanesh, S., & Babayanzad Ahari, S. (2007). Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) therapy for premenstrual syndrome. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics96(1), 43-44

Kendall, K. (1985). The effects of vitamin B6 supplementation on premenstrual symptoms

Kiani, F., Sayehmiri, K., Sayehmiri, F., Naghdi, N., Ghafari, M., Asadi-Samani, M., & Bahmani, M. (2016). Effects of vitamin B6 on premenstrual syndrome: A systematic review and meta-Analysis. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences9(3), 1346-1353

Lauritzen, C. H., Reuter, H. D., Repges, R., Böhnert, K. J., & Schmidt, U. (1997). Treatment of premenstrual tension syndrome with Vitex agnus castus controlled, double-blind study versus pyridoxine. Phytomedicine4(3), 183-189

London, R. S., Bradley, L., & Chiamori, N. Y. (1991). Effect of a nutritional supplement on premenstrual symptomatology in women with premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind longitudinal study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition10(5), 494-499

Malmgren, R., Collins, A., & Nilsson, C. G. (1987). Platelet serotonin uptake and effects of vitamin B6-treatment in premenstrual tension. Neuropsychobiology18(2), 83-88

Masoumi, S. Z., Ataollahi, M., & Oshvandi, K. (2016). Effect of combined use of calcium and vitamin B6 on premenstrual syndrome symptoms: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of caring sciences5(1), 67

Mattes, J. A., & Martin, D. (1982). Pyridoxine in premenstrual depression. Human nutrition: Applied nutrition

Motesharee, E., Rahimi, E., Asadi, N., Jafari, M., & Mehbodi, M. (2013). Effects of Flexibility Exercise and Supplement Vitamin B6 on Primary Dysmenorrhea in Female Non-Athletes. Armaghane danesh18(7), 509-519

Montiel-Ruiz, R. M., González-Trujano, M. E., & Deciga-Campos, M. (2013). Synergistic interactions between the antinociceptive effect of Rhodiola rosea extract and B vitamins in the mouse formalin test. Phytomedicine20(14), 1280-1287

Salehi, L., & Salehi, F. (2007). Comparative study of vitamin B6 versus placebo in premenstrual syndrome

Shaik, M. M., & Gan, S. H. (2015). Vitamin supplementation as possible prophylactic treatment against migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. BioMed research international2015

Sharma, P., Kulshreshtha, S., Singh, G. M., & Bhagoliwal, A. (2007). Role of bromocriptine and pyridoxine in premenstrual tension syndrome. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol51(4), 368-74

Smallwood, J., Ah-Kye, D., & Taylor, I. (1986). Vitamin B6 in the treatment of pre-menstrual mastalgia. The British journal of clinical practice40(12), 532

Stewart, A. (1987). Clinical and biochemical effects of nutritional supplementation on the premenstrual syndrome. The Journal of reproductive medicine32(6), 435-441

Williams, M. J., Harris, R. I., & Dean, B. C. (1985). Controlled trial of pyridoxine in the premenstrual syndrome. Journal of international medical research13(3), 174-179

Wyatt, K. M., Dimmock, P. W., Jones, P. W., & O’Brien, P. S. (1999). Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. Bmj318(7195), 1375-1381.

Vitamin B12

If you’re low in Vitamin B12, your body pulls no punches letting you know about it. Vitamin B12 deficiencies often can have negative effects on the body, including increasing feelings of depression and fatigue. These symptoms of B12 deficiencies go hand-in-hand with some of the harshest emotional symptoms of premenstrual tension that we experience, leading many researchers to explore the link between PMS and B12.

B12, superstar that it is, plays an important role in formulating red blood cells, as well as maintaining the metabolism and central nervous system. Thanks to the blood loss experienced every bloody menstrual cycle, it’s important to nourish those nutrients lost – everyone give a round of applause to vitamin B12 for helping with that.

Balcı, Y. I., Karabulut, A., Gürses, D., & Çövüt, İ. E. (2012). Prevalence and risk factors of anemia among adolescents in Denizli, Turkey. Iranian journal of pediatrics22(1), 77

EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). (2010). Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12 and contribution to normal neurological and psychological functions (ID 95, 97, 98, 100, 102, 109), contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism (ID 96, 103, 106), maintenance of normal bone (ID 104), maintenance of normal teeth (ID 104), maintenance of normal hair (ID 104), maintenance of normal skin (ID 104), maintenance of normal nails (ID 104), reduction of tiredness and fatigue (ID 108), and cell division (ID 212 …. EFSA Journal8(10), 1756

McRae, T. D., & Freedman, M. L. (1989). Why vitamin B 12 deficiency should be managed aggressively. Geriatrics44(11)

Montiel-Ruiz, R. M., González-Trujano, M. E., & Deciga-Campos, M. (2013). Synergistic interactions between the antinociceptive effect of Rhodiola rosea extract and B vitamins in the mouse formalin test. Phytomedicine20(14), 1280-1287

Shaik, M. M., & Gan, S. H. (2015). Vitamin supplementation as possible prophylactic treatment against migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. BioMed research international2015

Shamah-Levy, T., Villalpando, S., Mejía-Rodríguez, F., Cuevas-Nasu, L., Gaona-Pineda, E. B., Rangel-Baltazar, E., & Zambrano-Mujica, N. (2015). Prevalence of iron, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies in 20 to 49 years old women: Ensanut 2012. salud pública de méxico57, 385-393

Wolffenbuttel, B. H., Wouters, H. J., Heiner-Fokkema, M. R., & van der Klauw, M. M. (2019). The many faces of cobalamin (Vitamin B12) deficiency. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes3(2), 200-214

Iron

Monthly blood loss through our periods can lead to an iron deficiency or anemia. Anemia is the reduction in red blood cells or hemoglobin within the body and the symptoms include: tiredness, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, paleness, hair loss, chapped lips, lightheadedness, and cold intolerance. Hemoglobin is an iron-containing protein within your red blood cells which binds and transports oxygen molecules to the cells of your body. With fewer red blood cells, your body can’t get enough oxygen to function properly. 

With people who menstruate experiencing up to 500 periods in a lifetime, we really need to be keeping an eye on that blood loss, which is why our trusty yin & tonic has our backs yet again.

Balcı, Y. I., Karabulut, A., Gürses, D., & Çövüt, İ. E. (2012). Prevalence and risk factors of anemia among adolescents in Denizli, Turkey. Iranian journal of pediatrics22(1), 77

Beard, J. L. (2000). Iron requirements in adolescent females. The Journal of nutrition130(2), 440S-442S

Bruner, A. B., Joffe, A., Duggan, A. K., Casella, J. F., & Brandt, J. (1996). Randomised study of cognitive effects of iron supplementation in non-anaemic iron-deficient adolescent girls. The Lancet348(9033), 992-996

Cheong, R. L., Kuizon, M. D., & Tajaon, R. T. (1991). Menstrual blood loss and iron nutrition in Filipino women. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health22(4), 595-604

Gür-Özmen, S., & Karahan-Özcan, R. (2016). Iron deficiency anemia is associated with menstrual migraine: A case–control study. Pain Medicine17(3), 596-605

Harvey, L. J., Armah, C. N., Dainty, J. R., Foxall, R. J., Lewis, D. J., Langford, N. J., & Fairweather-Tait, S. J. (2005). Impact of menstrual blood loss and diet on iron deficiency among women in the UK. British journal of nutrition94(4), 557-564

Looker, A. C., Dallman, P. R., Carroll, M. D., Gunter, E. W., & Johnson, C. L. (1997). Prevalence of iron deficiency in the United States. Jama277(12), 973-976

Morey, S. S. (1998). CDC issues guidelines for prevention, detection and treatment of iron deficiency. American family physician58(6), 1475

Petranovic, D., Batinac, T., Petranovic, D., Ruzic, A., & Ruzic, T. (2008). Iron deficiency anaemia influences cognitive functions. Medical hypotheses70(1), 70-72

Pollitt, E. (1993). Iron deficiency and cognitive function. Annual review of nutrition13(1), 521-537

Shamah-Levy, T., Villalpando, S., Mejía-Rodríguez, F., Cuevas-Nasu, L., Gaona-Pineda, E. B., Rangel-Baltazar, E., & Zambrano-Mujica, N. (2015). Prevalence of iron, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies in 20 to 49 years old women: Ensanut 2012. salud pública de méxico57, 385-393

Sinha, M., Patel, A. H., Naik, S., & Jadeja, J. M. Effect Of Anemia On Premenstrual Syndrome In Adolescent Girls. Society of Basic and Applied Physiology, 104

Iodine

Heavy and/or irregular periods can be debilitating to many people who bleed. A heavy flow and an irregular cycle has been found to be linked to an iodine deficiency. Iodine is required to produce healthy amounts of thyroid hormone. A lack of iodine in our diet can disrupt the glands which produce the hormones required to regulate the menstrual cycle. Not one to be messed with, then!

Fakari, F., Ghasemi, V., Kiani, Z., Naz, M. (2020). The Effect of Micronutrients on Pain Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: a Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis. Journal of Caring Sciences, 9(1), 47-56

Panth, P., Guerin, G., DiMarco, N. (2019). A Review of Iodine Status of Women of Reproductive Age in the USA. Biological Trace Element Research, 188, 208-220. 

Reid, R., Steel, A., Wardle, J., Adams, J. (2019). Naturopathic Medicine for the Management of Endometriosis, Dysmenorrhea, and Menorrhagia: A Content Analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 25(2)

Magnesium

Magnesium is truly a god among angels in this list. What can’t it do? Magnesium is very closely linked with dysmenorrhea – aka period pain – as it can work to relax the uterus muscle and reduce the prostaglandins which contribute to sensations of pain (cramps).  

It also tag-teams with Vitamin B6 to provide the best possible defence for you against your period problems. 

Magnesium calms the nervous system and reduces the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In English, this means that it significantly reduces the production of stress hormones and, in return, allows the reproductive hormones to do their thing making your menstrual cycle tick along without the disruption of cortisol. It also normalises the actions of hormones such as progesterone on the central nervous system. Magnesium supports COMT enzyme (catechol-o-methyltransferase) in the liver, promoting the healthy excretion of oestrogen. Phew. And that’s not even an exhaustive list of all the reported and theorised health benefits of magnesium for other aches n’ ailments!

De Souza, M. C., Walker, A. F., Robinson, P. A., & Bolland, K. (2000). A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Journal of women’s health & gender-based medicine9(2), 131-139

Ebrahimi, E., Motlagh, S. K., Nemati, S., & Tavakoli, Z. (2012). Effects of magnesium and vitamin b6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Journal of caring sciences1(4), 183

Facchinetti, F., Borella, P., Sances, G., Fioroni, L., Nappi, R. E., & Genazzani, A. R. (1991). Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstetrics and Gynecology78(2), 177-181

Facchinetti, F., Sances, G., Borella, P., Genazzani, A. R., & Nappi, G. (1991). Magnesium prophylaxis of menstrual migraine: effects on intracellular magnesium. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain31(5), 298-301

Fathizadeh, N., Ebrahimi, E., Valiani, M., Tavakoli, N., & Yar, M. H. (2010). Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research15(Suppl1), 401

Ghalwa, N. A., Qedra, R., & Wahedy, K. (2014). Impact of calcium and magnesium dietary changes on women pain and discomfort from premenstrual syndrome at the Faculty of Pharmacy-Gaza strip. World J Pharm Pharm Sci3, 981-1005

Kia, A. S., Amani, R., & Cheraghian, B. (2015). The association between the risk of premenstrual syndrome and vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium status among university students: a case control study. Health promotion perspectives5(3), 225

London, R. S., Bradley, L., & Chiamori, N. Y. (1991). Effect of a nutritional supplement on premenstrual symptomatology in women with premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind longitudinal study. Journal of the American College of Nutrition10(5), 494-499

Mauskop, A., Altura, B. T., & Altura, B. M. (2002). Serum ionized magnesium levels and serum ionized calcium/ionized magnesium ratios in women with menstrual migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain42(4), 242-248

Posaci, C., Erten, O., Üren, A., & Acar, B. (1994). Plasma copper, zinc and magnesium levels in patients with premenstrual tension syndrome. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica73(6), 452-455

Quaranta, S., Buscaglia, M. A., Meroni, M. G., Colombo, E., & Cella, S. (2007). Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250mg tablet (Sincromag®) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Clinical drug investigation27(1), 51-58

Rosenstein, D. L., Elin, R. J., Hosseini, J. M., Grover, G., & Rubinow, D. R. (1994). Magnesium measures across the menstrual cycle in premenstrual syndrome. Biological psychiatry35(8), 557-561

Sharma, G., & Tandon, P. (2015). Luteal phase serum calcium and serum magnesium levels in causation of premenstrual syndrome. Int J Basic Appl Physiol4(1), 126

Sherwood, R. A., Rocks, B. F., Stewart, A., & Saxton, R. S. (1986). Magnesium and the premenstrual syndrome. Annals of clinical biochemistry23(6), 667-670

Stewart, A. (1987). Clinical and biochemical effects of nutritional supplementation on the premenstrual syndrome. The Journal of reproductive medicine32(6), 435-441

Walker, A. F., De Souza, M. C., Vickers, M. F., Abeyasekera, S., Collins, M. L., & Trinca, L. A. (1998). Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. Journal of Women’s health7(9), 1157-1165

Zinc

Zinc’s use in treatments for cramps comes from its ability to help reduce inflammation and improve period pain through the reduction of  prostaglandins. It’s also an important part of the immune-modulating protocol for endometriosis. It can help regulate the menstrual cycle, block the production of excess androgens such as the hormone testosterone, and support the synthesis and activation of thyroid hormone. It’s also a lifejacket for the stress-heads among us, with its ability to reduce and regulate the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

Chuong, C. J., & Dawson, E. B. (1994). Zinc and copper levels in premenstrual syndrome. Fertility and sterility62(2), 313-320

Eby, G. A. (2007). Zinc treatment prevents dysmenorrhea. Medical Hypotheses69(2), 297-301

Fathizadeh, S., Amani, R., Haghighizadeh, M. H., & Hormozi, R. (2016). Comparison of serum zinc concentrations and body antioxidant status between young women with premenstrual syndrome and normal controls: A case-control study. International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine14(11), 699

Kashefi, F., Khajehei, M., Tabatabaeichehr, M., Alavinia, M., & Asili, J. (2014). Comparison of the effect of ginger and zinc sulfate on primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo-controlled randomized trial. Pain Management Nursing15(4), 826-833

Javanmardi, M., Momtazpour, M., Shahtalebi, M. A., & Araban, M. (2016). The effects of Zinc Acetate capsule on the intensity of primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. The Iranian Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility19(25), 1-7

Posaci, C., Erten, O., Üren, A., & Acar, B. (1994). Plasma copper, zinc and magnesium levels in patients with premenstrual tension syndrome. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica73(6), 452-455

Sangestani, G., Khatiban, M., Marci, R., & Piva, I. (2015). The positive effects of zinc supplements on the improvement of primary dysmenorrhea and premenstrual symptoms: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health3(3), 378-384

Siahbazi, S., Behboudi‐Gandevani, S., Moghaddam‐Banaem, L., & Montazeri, A. (2017). Effect of zinc sulfate supplementation on premenstrual syndrome and health‐related quality of life: Clinical randomized controlled trial. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research43(5), 887-894

Teimoori, B., Ghasemi, M., Hoseini, Z. S. A., & Razavi, M. (2016). The efficacy of zinc administration in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Oman medical journal31(2), 107

Zekavat, O. R., Karimi, M. Y., Amanat, A., & Alipour, F. (2015). A randomised controlled trial of oral zinc sulphate for primary dysmenorrhoea in adolescent females. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology55(4), 369-373

Calendula

Back to those cramping uterus muscles, and it’s calendula’s time to shine. With anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic (meaning it has the ability to prevent muscle spasms) properties, calendula can help alleviate menstrual symptoms such as uterine and stomach cramps, headaches, and backaches. It also has emmenagogue properties, which means it can help to hasten menstruation.

Chemli, R., Toumi, A., Oueslati, S., Zouaghi, H., Boukef, K., & Balansard, G. (1990). Calendula arvensis L. Impact of saponins on toxicity, hemolytic effect, and anti-inflammatory activity. Journal de pharmacie de Belgique45(1), 12-16

Della Loggia, R., Tubaro, A., Sosa, S., Becker, H., & Isaac, O. (1994). The role of triterpenoids in the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Calendula officinalis flowers. Planta medica60(06), 516-520

Hamburger, M., Adler, S., Baumann, D., Förg, A., & Weinreich, B. (2003). Preparative purification of the major anti-inflammatory triterpenoid esters from Marigold (Calendula officinalis). Fitoterapia74(4), 328-338

Shahidi, S., Mahmoodi, M., & Farahmandlou, N. (2012). Antinociceptive properties of hydro-alcoholic extract of calendula officinalis in rat. Basic and Clinical Neuroscience3(5), 45-48

Ukiya, M., Akihisa, T., Yasukawa, K., Tokuda, H., Suzuki, T., & Kimura, Y. (2006). Anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor-promoting, and cytotoxic activities of constituents of marigold (Calendula officinalis) flowers. Journal of natural products69(12), 1692-1696

Cramp Bark

Bet you can’t guess what cramp bark does… just kidding, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The name is derived from its use as a pain treatment for cramps, particularly menstrual cramps. Research indicates that cramp bark fruit extracts help relax muscles and blood vessels, which can relieve pain and reduce blood pressure.

Cramp bark is also considered a uterine decongestant, which helps with symptoms such as bloating, cramping before menstruation, and delayed menses. Uterine congestion can also be a pattern associated with endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts.

Yarnell, E. (2015). Herbal Medicine for Dysmenorrhea. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 25(5), 224-228

Edwards, S., Heinrish, M., Williamson, E. (2015). Cramp Bark. Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medical Products, 118-119. 

Kashani, L., Mohammadi, M., Heidari, M., Akhondzadeh, S. (2015). Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea. Journal of Medicinal Plants, 14(53)

Bharti, G., Neelesh, K. (2019). Overview on: Herbs Use in Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Cramps). Advances in Zoology and Botany, 7(3), 47-52

Dong Quai 

Dong quai has been used in Asia for thousands of years as a tonic for the female reproductive system. With a reputation for helping to relieve PMS and regulate the menstrual cycle, dong quai has been used to treat amenorrhea (irregular or absent periods) and menorrhagia (heavy bleeding or prolonged periods). It also has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. 

Dong quai’s skillset also boasts the ability to nourish body fluids, reduce vaginal dryness, counter fatigue, reduce hot flashes in menopausal people, and lower blood pressure. It’s also a rich source of vitamin B12 – see above for why that’s something to be proud of!

Bo, L., Yaling, Z., & Huinan, Y. (1995). Influence of Angelica sinensis and A. acutiloba on Isolated smooth Muscle of Rat Uteri [J]. Pharmacology and Clinics of Chinese Materia Medica6

Dai, N., Fang, L., Li, Y. B., Wang, Y. M., Yin, J., & Pu, B. C. (2014). Effect of Jingqian Zhitong Fang on serum sex hormone levels in women with primary dysmenorrhea. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2014

Du, J., Yu, Y., Ke, Y., Wang, C., Zhu, L., & Qian, Z. M. (2007). Ligustilide attenuates pain behavior induced by acetic acid or formalin. Journal of ethnopharmacology112(1), 211-214

Fang, L., Lai, X. Y., & Zhang, Y. J. (2011). The clinical observation of JQF for the treatment of primary dysmenorrheal. Chinese Archives of Traditional Chinese Medicine29(11), 2480-2481

Hou, Y. Z., Zhao, G. R., Yuan, Y. J., Zhu, G. G., & Hiltunen, R. (2005). Inhibition of rat vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation by extract of Ligusticum chuanxiong and Angelica sinensis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology100(1-2), 140-144

Hui, Z. I., & Zhu-hui, Z. Z. Q. (2009). Research on the Decreasing Function of Evodia Rutaecarpa Angelica Sinensis Ethanol Extract on Contractile Activity of Uterine Smooth Muscle Strips of Virginal Rats [J]. Chinese archives of traditional chinese medicine4

Li, J., Hua, Y., Ji, P., Yao, W., Zhao, H., Zhong, L., & Wei, Y. (2016). Effects of volatile oils of Angelica sinensis on an acute inflammation rat model. Pharmaceutical biology54(9), 1881-1890

Pu, B. C., Fang, L., Gao, L. N., Liu, R., & Li, A. Z. (2015). Animal study on primary dysmenorrhoea treatment at different administration times. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2015

Sheng, Y., Guofang, Q., Zhifeng, L., Ke, L., & Jialing, W. (2000). Effect of the oil of angelica sinensis on the contractile function of isolated uterine smooth muscle of mice. Zhong cao yao= Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs31(8), 604-606

Shi, M., Chang, L., & He, G. (1995). Stimulating action of Carthamus tinctorius L., Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels and Leonurus sibiricus L. on the uterus. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica20(3), 173

Yu, Y., Lin, B. Q., Yu, L., Hua, Y. Q., Duan, J. A., & Li, S. P. (2009). Inhibitory Effects of Two Ferulates from on Platelet Aggregation and Oxytocin-induced Uterine Contraction. The Open Bioactive Compounds Journal2(1)

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal herbs on record. Move over spinach, fenugreek is an excellent source of fibre, magnesium, copper, and iron. It has anti-fever, anti-inflammatory, and antinociceptive (pain-reducing) properties. Fenugreek also reduces inflammation with powerful plant compounds such as alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins, plant sterols, coumarins, and terpenoids, to name a few. These plant compounds may also help relieve pain.

But PMS also gets a look in with old Fenugreek, which also exhibits antioxidant, antispasmodic, antihistaminic, immunomodulatory, diuretic, and anti-diabetic properties. These medical properties are thought to give fenugreek it’s upper hand against PMS as well as cramps in the fight against all manner of period problems.

Deepa, K. K., Pradeep, H. R., & Shashikant, M. P. Clinical evaluation of methika (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.) and chandrasura (Lepidium sativum Linn.) on kashtarthava (primary dysmenorrhoea)

Inanmdar, W., Sultana, A., Mubeen, U., & Rahman, K. (2016). Clinical efficacy of Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek) and dry cupping therapy on intensity of pain in patients with primary dysmenorrhea. Chinese journal of integrative medicine, 1-8

Liu, Y. F., Wang, T. F., Shi, M. Y., & Wang, D. H. (2011). Effect observation on treatment of dysmenorrhea due to endometriosis (adenomyosis) with Modified Fenugreek Bolus in 40 cases. China Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy1, 059

Masoumi, S. Z., Shayan, A., Ahmadinia, H., Ebrahimi, R., Ahmadi Niyatabesh, R., Moradkhani, S., … & Soltani, F. (2018). Effects of fenugreek seeds on the severity and duration of pain in primary dysmenorrhea in the students at Hamadan University of Medical sciences, Iran (2016). The Iranian Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility21(4), 25-33

Younesy, S., Amiraliakbari, S., Esmaeili, S., Alavimajd, H., & Nouraei, S. (2014). Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea. Journal of reproduction & infertility15(1), 41

Ginger

Anyone who’s ever had a grandma press a fresh ginger tea into their hand at the first sign of any and every type of ailment can probably attest to ginger’s reputation as herbal medicine of many powers. Aside from being warming and soothing, research suggests that compounds found in ginger may be anti-inflammatory as it helps to inhibit the body’s production of prostaglandins – which, again, trigger the muscle contractions that help the uterus shed its lining. An overproduction of prostaglandins is linked to period pain, ginger’s ability to inhibit this production is thought to aid with menstrual cramps. One reputable study found that, while ginger was shown to significantly reduce participants’ pain as compared with a placebo, there was no significant difference between the effects of ginger and the effects of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (such as ibuprofen) – so next time you reach for the pill packet, why not reach for your ginger-packed yin & tonic instead?

Ginger has also been shown to help reduce nausea, an all-to-common side effect of severe period pain or heavy bleeding.

Daily, J. W., Zhang, X., Kim, D. S., & Park, S. (2015). Efficacy of ginger for alleviating the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Pain Medicine16(12), 2243-2255

Halder, A. (2012). Effect of progressive muscle relaxation versus intake of ginger powder on dysmenorrhoea amongst the nursing students in Pune. Nurs J India, 103, 152–156

Jenabi, E. (2013). The effect of ginger for relieving of primary dysmenorrhoea. J Pak Med Assoc63(1), 8-10

Kashefi, F., Khajehei, M., Tabatabaeichehr, M., Alavinia, M., & Asili, J. (2014). Comparison of the effect of ginger and zinc sulfate on primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo-controlled randomized trial. Pain Management Nursing15(4), 826-833

Khayat, S., Kheirkhah, M., Behboodi Moghadam, Z., Fanaei, H., Kasaeian, A., & Javadimehr, M. (2014). Effect of treatment with ginger on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. International Scholarly Research Notices2014

Mascolo, N., Jain, R., Jain, S. C., & Capasso, F. (1989). Ethnopharmacologic investigation of ginger (Zingiber officinale). Journal of ethnopharmacology27(1-2), 129-140

Ozgoli, G., Goli, M., & Moattar, F. (2009). Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. The journal of alternative and complementary medicine15(2), 129-132

Rahnama, P., Montazeri, A., Huseini, H. F., Kianbakht, S., & Naseri, M. (2012). Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine12(1), 92

Rayati, F., Hajmanouchehri, F., & Najafi, E. (2017). Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case–control clinical trial. Dental research journal14(1), 1

Shirvani, M. A., Motahari-Tabari, N., & Alipour, A. (2015). The effect of mefenamic acid and ginger on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics291(6), 1277-1281

Motherwort

Miao, L., Zhou, Q., Peng, C., et al. (2019). Leonurus japonicus (Chinese motherwort), an excellent traditional medicine for obstetrical and gynecological diseases: A comprehensive overview. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, 117

Matławska, I., Szymański, M. (2013). Leonurus cardiaca L. (Motherwort): A Review of its Phytochemistry and Pharmacology. Phytotherapy Research, 27(8)

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