It's that time of month, and you can feel the pain coming on. Menstrual cramps are not only inconvenient, they're a common cause of missed days from work and loss of productivity. Estimates are that up to one in four women have menstrual cramps that are painful enough to interfere with their daily life. Can drinking tea help relieve the discomfort of menstrual cramps?
Tea for Menstrual Cramps: The Herbal Tea That Fights Dysmenorrhea
Drinking tea could be a natural treatment for menstrual cramps. Not just any tea, but an herbal tea that's been used medicinally since ancient times. In fact, chamomile tea was once used by the Egyptians as an offering to the gods.
According to a small study from the Imperial College in London, chamomile tea could be just what the doctor ordered as a natural remedy for menstrual cramps. Volunteers who sipped chamomile tea had higher levels of two compounds that could fight menstrual cramps -- glycine and hippurate.
Glycine is an amino acid that relaxes the uterus and helps to ease the spasmodic contractions that cause pain. Hippurate is a natural anti-inflammatory. The combination of these two compounds helps to remedy the pre-menstrual discomfort that a significant number of women experience.
There's another advantage to sipping chamomile tea for menstrual cramps. It helps to ease the anxiety and pre-menstrual tension so common in the days before a period starts. Chamomile tea is a source of a unique flavonoid called apigenin that helps to relax the mind and body as effectively as some prescription anti-anxiety medications.
To get the benefits, you'll need to drink at least two cups of chamomile tea a day during the week leading up to your period. A warm cup of chamomile tea is the perfect bedtime drink since it helps to promote sleep. Prepare it by adding 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried chamomile flowers to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for five to seven minutes before sipping.
One Word of Caution
Some people experience allergic reactions to compounds in chamomile, and you're more likely to be sensitive to chamomile if you have a ragweed allergy or are allergic to chrysanthemums. If you have a ragweed or chrysanthemum allergy, talk to your doctor before drinking chamomile tea.
The Bottom Line?
Drinking chamomile tea for menstrual cramps is good medicine, and it has other health benefits as well. Chamomile tea is a good source of flavonoids that may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. All in all, chamomile tea is a healthy drink that can help keep those pesky menstrual cramps at bay.
U.S. Pharmacist. "Herbal Pharmacy: Chamomile'
Shape Magazine. October 2005. Page 98.