The 6 Best Teas to Ease Your Period Cramps

Last updated 01.29.2024 | by Dr. Karen Pike | 8 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Did you know that perimenopause can make period cramping – otherwise known as primary dysmenorrhea- worse?

The problem is especially profound in women who have suffered from menstrual cramping throughout their younger years. Hormonal shifts during perimenopause can intensify the pain and discomfort, leaving many women hoping menopause will come soon so they can say goodbye to their periods once and for all.

In the meantime, we often turn to over-the-counter and prescription painkillers to get through our time of the month. But as helpful as these medications can be, they also come with side effects, and they’re not recommended for long-term use. So, discovering more gentle and natural alternatives can be a game-changer.

When I first began researching medicinal teas to help ease my period cramping, I was skeptical. As a registered physician, I believe in evidence-based medicine, not traditional folk healing. But, as I delved deeper into the research, I was intrigued to learn that many of these old-fashioned remedies are actually supported by science.

According to some studies, certain herbal teas and infusions really can help to relieve period pain. So, I put them to the test for myself. As a result, I was able to lower my dependency on painkillers while still easing my discomfort during my time of the month.

So, are you suffering from painful periods during perimenopause? Are you looking for a more natural way to find relief? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll share five teas that may help ease period cramping without medication.

1. Green Tea

Green tea is made from Camellia sinensis- the same plant as black tea. The difference is that green tea leaves are young and unoxidized, whereas black tea leaves are aged and oxidized. This gives them a deeper flavor and a richer color, and it also changes the chemical structure of the tea.

Both green and black tea contain antioxidants, but green tea has a higher concentration. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation, which in turn is thought to ease cramping and pains. According to a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal, drinking green tea appears to reduce the prevalence of dysmenorrhoea (period cramps) in women of reproductive age.

2. Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is a rich source of menthol, which has powerful analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-inflammatory effects. It also works as a muscle relaxant, so it gently relieves aches and pains due to uterine contractions during menstruation. But that’s not all. Peppermint has also been shown to balance irritability and mood swings, which often accompany menstruation, particularly during perimenopause.

Most studies on peppermint’s unique compounds have used peppermint essential oil or peppermint extract in capsule form. So, more evidence is needed to assess the efficacy of peppermint when consumed as an infusion or tea.

However, from my experience, sipping a combination of hot water and peppermint leaves has certainly helped to relieve my own menstrual pain.

3. Raspberry Leaf Tea

We’re all familiar with the deliciously sweet taste of red raspberries. But one part of the raspberry plant that is often overlooked is the leaves. While they don’t taste anything like raspberries (the flavor is more similar to black tea), the chemical compounds found in these leaves are thought to have several promising health benefits, including a potential reduction in period cramping.

Raspberry leaf tea has been used for centuries to treat the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including cramping. While there aren’t any specific studies on its direct ability to relieve period pain, its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects have been proven by science. So, it’s certainly worth adding this tea to your arsenal of natural remedies.

4. Ginger Tea

I’ve enjoyed the deliciously spicy flavor and aroma of ginger root tea for years. So, when I found out that it could also ease my perimenopausal period cramps, I was excited to give it a try.

Ginger has been used as a treatment in traditional folk medicine for centuries. In recent years, science has confirmed that it does indeed have some powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties.

In the context of menstrual pain, ginger works by inhibiting the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are pro-inflammatory chemicals that trigger uterine contractions, helping the womb to shed its lining each month. But when the body produces prostaglandins in excess, menstrual cramping can occur. Ginger counteracts this effect, leading to a reduction in pain.

There is even evidence to suggest that ginger is as effective at relieving period pain as the popular anti-inflammatory NSAID drug, mefenamic acid.

5. Cinnamon Tea

Cinnamon contains two important anti-inflammatory phytochemicals: cinnamic acid and cinnamaldehyde. These chemicals seek out and destroy free radicals in the body, reducing inflammation and pain.

So, cinnamon has long been used as a popular herbal remedy for a wide variety of inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, gastric inflammation, and period cramps.

One study, a randomized, double-blind clinical trial published by Elsevier, demonstrated that cinnamon significantly reduces the intensity of period cramping. However, it’s worth noting that participants took 1000 mg of cinnamon in capsule form. So, it’s unclear whether consuming cinnamon in other forms (such as tea) has the same effect.

That being said, when I began sipping cinnamon tea during the most painful days of my period, the results were impressive. I felt a noticeable reduction in pain and was able to go about my day with greater ease without having to take painkillers.

I use whole organic sticks of cinnamon for my tea preparations, and I find that one stick can be used at least 4-5 times before it loses its flavor and potency.

6. Thyme Tea

All of the teas in this post have helped to reduce my perimenopausal period cramping, but in my experience, thyme tea has had the most profound effect. While the flavor of thyme tea certainly isn’t my favorite, I notice a soothing effect almost immediately after I finish a cup.

Thyme tea has been used to treat menstrual cramping and various other ailments around the world for millennia. And now, scientists have discovered why. Thyme is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants, making it an effective antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agent.

One study of 252 Ethiopian teenage girls showed that drinking this popular culinary herb in tea form led to a 63.2% decrease in menstrual pain.

Interestingly, the same study also found evidence to suggest that drinking coffee increased the prevalence of menstrual cramps. So, during your period, it may be wise to skip the coffee and opt for a warm cup of soothing thyme tea instead. I like to add a small teaspoon of honey to mask the earthy flavor.

FAQ’s

Are there any side effects associated with the teas on this list?

The teas discussed above are generally considered safe to consume, and most of these ingredients can be found in popular culinary preparations. However, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. For example, peppermint tea can trigger heartburn in some people, and ginger is known to thin the blood, so it should not be consumed before or after surgery.
Some women also use raspberry leaf tea to induce labor. So, it’s advisable to avoid consuming this tea during early pregnancy. If you’re unsure about any of the teas on this list, speak to your doctor before giving them a try.

Can I blend two types of tea to maximize the pain-relieving results?

Absolutely. There’s no harm in combining two or more teas together to create a more potent pain-relieving blend. However, if this is your first time experimenting with teas to reduce menstrual cramps, I recommend trying one at a time to begin with. This way, you can be sure which ingredient works best for you. Once you’re more familiar with the effects of each tea, you can get creative with your own special blends.

Can I add sugar or honey to these teas to improve the taste?

Adding a sweetening agent to these teas won’t lower their potency or make them less effective. However, excess intake of sugar is bad for your health on many levels. It can even increase inflammation, which may make period pain worse. So, it’s best to use natural sweeteners such as honey, agave syrup, or stevia rather than pure sugar.

Conclusion

Primary dysmenorrhea, or period cramps, can increase in severity and frequency during perimenopause. And for many women, the condition can be debilitating.

My own menstrual pains were once so severe that I would lie awake at night, and I found it difficult to manage during the day when I was on my period. And so, for a long time, I relied on pharmaceutical pain relief to get me through.

But to my surprise, I found the teas listed in this article to be surprisingly effective at reducing my pain, and I was able to decrease my reliance on painkillers.

So, if you are suffering from period cramping during perimenopause, I highly recommend you give the teas above a try.

Just remember, if you’re taking prescription medication or you have another underlying condition, speak to your doctor before incorporating these teas into your premenstrual routine.

Author

  • Dr. Karen Pike

    Dr. Pike is a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. She received her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and played collegiate soccer. She attended Georgetown University for medical school and performed her residency in emergency medicine at Stanford University. She was part of the first-ever, women-majority emergency medicine program in United States. Dr. Pike is also the primary medical consultant for “Grey’s Anatomy,” a role she has held since the pilot episode when she partnered with Shonda Rhimes as the show’s original medical consultant. At her hospital, she was the second woman Chief of Staff. Today serves as the Director of the Emergency Department. Whether in leadership or direct patient care, her dedication to excellence in communication, quality, and collaboration is unwavering.