Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps is the dull, throbbing pain that most women experience before and during their period. While for some this is a mild discomfort, for others, it could be so severe that it affects their daily activities each month. Apart from lower abdominal cramps and pain, a woman can experience radiating pain on the thighs and back, loose stools, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sweating etc.
The pain is usually caused due to contraction of the uterus during menstruation. This could cause constriction of blood vessels in the uterus. Menstrual cramps could also be a result of endometriosis, uterine fibroids,adenomyosis, cervical stenosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. While most women are able to deal with menstrual cramps, some may need medication if the pain is severe. Sometimes certain causes of menstrual cramps like endometriosis could cause complications like fertility problems.
Cinnamon for Cramps
Cinnamon is a popular spice used all over the world. While there are many varieties of this tree, the most commonly used are Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon. There are three active chemical compounds found in cinnamon which offer this spice’s unique healing abilities – cinnamaldehyde, cinnamlyl alcohol and cinnamyl acetate.
Painful menstrual cramps symptoms maybe eased by using cinnamon. Current studies are based on the antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits of cinnamon. It is able to fight microorganisms due to its anti-inflammatory benefits. However, none of these theories have been proved.
Natural remedies are very effective in treating menstrual cramps that most women experience. A regular exercise routine of at least 20 minutes duration a day can ease severity of cramps. If the cramps are very severe, you can do light exercise during the first few days of your period. A hot water pad or hot water bottle can even ease abdominal cramps during menstruation. A cup each of baking soda and sea salt can be added to hot bath water to relax muscles. This will ease the tension of cramps. Vitamin B-complex, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and zinc are all supplements that can benefit menstrual cramps.
In addition, there are various herbs which have been used for centuries to ease menstrual cramps like – cinnamon, basil, ginger, chamomile, fennel, mint and parsley. They work in different ways to easy menstrual cramps and other associated symptoms. Consuming herbal teas made using these ingredients can also regulate an irregular menstrual cycle and offer relief from pain. Cinnamon can also be taken by sprinkling it on different foods – smoothies, porridges etc.
Cinnamon tea can be made by boiling cinnamon in water for 15 minutes and then adding some milk or honey to it. This delicious tea is said to reduce premenstrual cramps. It has anti-clotting and anti-microbial activity and is a good source of calcium, manganese and iron too.
Cinnamon has potent antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. This offers pain relief. Drink cinnamon tea regularly – especially before the start date of your period. You can even include it in other foods. It is effective in fighting first day cramps of your period.
Chinese herbs have been used for centuries to relieve menstrual cramps. Trials were conducted on different groups of women who were given herbs like cinnamon bark, Chinese angelica root, Szechwan lovage root, white peony root or Chinese motherwort. It was found that herbs reduced menstrual cramps more effectively than NSAIDs heat therapy, acupuncture or other treatments. Apart from reducing pain, these Chinese herbs also reduced recurrence of menstrual cramps when the patients were studied over a 3 month period. Further research has been suggested that includes larger groups of women to confirm the findings.
Using herbs also causes fewer side effects over a longer period compared to conventional medications. They also cost less. Along with such treatment, following dietary changes like reducing sugar intake, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, smoking, etc. could also help treat menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
Until further research, cinnamon can only be used as a home remedy to ease symptoms of menstrual cramps.
There is no cinnamon dosage for menstrual cramps. Usually it is safe to take 6g a day for 6 weeks. Some recommend not more than ½ to 1tsp of powdered cinnamon a day. The actual dosage will depend on the age and health condition of the user.
Used in food, cinnamon spice does not cause side effects. Cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin which cause liver and kidney damage. Consuming chewing gum, mints or candies with cinnamon could cause mouth ulcers and inflammation of the lips, throat etc., in those who are sensitive to cinnamon. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and those taking diabetic medication must avoid cinnamon.
Always inform your doctor if you decide to use cinnamon for menstrual cramps or any other medical condition.