The Best Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps typically occur just before or during menstruation and can range from dull aches to severe, debilitating pain.

The typical recommendation for dealing with the pain of menstrual cramps is to either bear through the pain or take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen. However, ibuprofen and similar medications are not always effective and may cause potential side effects.

There is a natural way to try to reduce the pain from these cramps. Taking the best herbs for menstrual cramps may offer some pain relief and help with the severity of the cramping.

Benefits of Using Herbs for Your Cramps

Herbs provide a natural way to help reduce the severity of pain from your cramps. Compared to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, there is less risk of any negative side effects.

Taking NSAIDs can increase your risk of various adverse effects. Some of the known risks are mild, such as an upset stomach.

However, taking NSAIDs may also cause ulcers, stomach bleeding, kidney problems, and high blood pressure. You may even develop a rash if you have a negative reaction to the ingredients in the medication.

Most herbs do not carry these same risks. They offer a completely natural solution for providing your body with nutrients and compounds that may help fight inflammation, relax muscles, and reduce pain.

Along with helping with pain relief, taking the right herbs may help with other symptoms of the menstrual cycle. For example, fennel seed has been shown to help relieve the fatigue and nausea that some women experience during menstruation.

There is also evidence to suggest that certain herbs may decrease the total duration of your menstrual period.

Including herbs in your daily diet may help improve your overall well-being. These herbs contain beneficial vitamins and minerals that your body requires and that is lacking from a typical diet.

The bottom line is that herbs do not carry the same risks as over-the-counter pain relievers. Herbs are natural, easy to include in your diet, and may help relieve additional symptoms related to your period.

Top Herbs to Relieve Menstrual Pain

There are many herbs available and each has its own advantages. However, there is limited research into the benefits of taking herbs for menstrual pain.

By looking at the scientific studies that are available and years of anecdotal evidence, there are several herbs that are most likely to provide pain relief. The following herbs may help relieve some of your menstrual pain.

Turmeric - Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

Ginger Root

Severe menstrual pain is believed to be connected to high levels of prostaglandins, which is a hormone-like substance that is known to cause inflammation and pain.

Ginger root may lower these levels, reducing fatigue and the severity of your menstrual cramps.

A study also examined the benefits of taking ginger root powder for dealing with menstrual pain.[1] In this study, women who started taking the powder two days before their periods experienced less pain than those who took a placebo.

Fennel - Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

Fennel Seed

As mentioned, fennel seed may help reduce nausea and fatigue.

However, it may also ease the severity of the menstrual cramps.

Fennel seeds contain anethole, which is a compound that contains anti-spasm properties that may help reduce the pain and duration of the cramps.

In one clinical study, fennel seed was shown to be more effective in reducing hemorrhage than one of the most commonly recommended NSAIDs.[2]

In the study,[2] one group was given mefenamic acid while the other group was given fennel seed. The group who took fennel seed experienced less pain than the other group and reported no side effects; however, the differences between the two groups was not statistically significant.


Pycnogenol is a herb that comes from pine tree bark. Several studies have found that this extract helps some women with the pain of their menstrual cramps.[3]

The pain-relieving benefits are believed to come from the anti-inflammatory properties of this herb.

Cinnamon - Herbs for Menstrual Cramps


Cinnamon was also found to be useful for helping to control menstrual pain when taken regularly. In one double-blind study, participants were given either a placebo, ibuprofen, or cinnamon.[3]

In this study, cinnamon was found to be slightly less effective than ibuprofen and more effective than a placebo. However, cinnamon does not include the same risk of side effects as ibuprofen.


With traditional Chinese medicine, corydalis is a common recommendation for menstrual pain.

The active ingredient in this herb is known to help reduce pain caused by inflammation or damage to the nervous system. It has a numbing effect similar to morphine but without the same risks.

Turmeric - Herbs for Menstrual Cramps

Curcuma Zedoaria

Curcuma zedoaria is part of the turmeric family and includes strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Fighting the inflammation may help reduce menstrual pain.

This herb may also help reduce spasms and uterine contractions, which can result in less severe cramping.

When Should You Call Your Doctor About Menstrual Cramps?

If your menstrual cramps are severe and you do not experience any relief from herbs or other changes to your lifestyle, you may need to consult with your doctor.

There may be an underlying medical issue that is causing severe cramping. For example, you may suffer from uterine fibroids or endometriosis.

With endometriosis, the lining of the uterus begins growing outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes or pelvic lining.

When an existing condition is the cause of the severe pain, taking herbs may not offer an effective form of pain relief. Without treating the underlying issue, the pain will likely continue.

You should call your doctor when the cramps are debilitating. The severe cramps may keep you from completing everyday tasks. These issues indicate the need to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get to the bottom of the issue.

Should You Take Herbs for Menstrual Cramps?

There are herbal remedies for almost any ailment, including menstrual cramps. However, everyone is different. These herbs may help some women while others may experience no changes to the discomfort of their cramps.

Whether you gain relief, many of these herbs are commonly recommended for their benefits to your overall health and well-being. They are also safe to take without the same risk of pain medications.

The bottom line is that taking a herb has no downsides and may help you deal with your menstrual cramps.


I’m Princila, founder of Check Ovulation and a proud mom of two. I’m an alumna of James Lind Institute. After working in clinical jobs, my passion for writing took its toll, and I ended up switching careers to work in the medical publishing industry. I also have a passion for healthy food, which prompted me to take several online courses in nutrition and health offered by Wageningen University. (I still haven’t completed the courses thanks to my busy mommy schedule!). When I’m not writing/editing scientific and medical manuscripts or taking care of my family, I use my free time to research, learn, and write about healthy living. I have also authored a few books in the self-help niche using the pen names Princila Murrell or PN Murray. Protection Status