Femmze life


A Naturopath's guide to period pain relief

Dealing with period pain? Naturopath and nutritionist Katie Gregory of Whole Alchemy is here with some natural alternatives to “just putting up with it”. Below, Gregory shares her favourite diet, supplement, and herbal remedies to ease period pain, to keep in mind for your next conversation with your holistic healthcare provider or GP.


WORDS Katie Gregory

Many girls, women and people who menstruate are taught to believe that pain, bloating, mood swing, and digestive discomfort are just part and parcel of getting your period. The media, our peers, our mothers, our friends have simply put up with it, as it has been ingrained into all of us from an early age. But while these symptoms may be common, they are not normal. Considering women and people who menstruate can experience periods for 40 years of their lives, that is certainly too long to just accept any negative symptoms associated with your cycle. 


Dysmenorrhoea, commonly referred to as period pain, is one of the most common symptoms seen in gynaecology. According to several studies, more than 80 per cent of women experience dysmenorrhea at some point in their lives, and symptoms can range from mild to completely debilitating. While of course there are medications and other remedies to support a painful cycle, one of the first places to start when addressing period pain is the diet. 




The food we eat can influence our levels of prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and menstrual cramps. Try to limit or eliminate inflammatory foods such as those high in saturated fats and sugar, as well as alcohol and processed foods. You can bump up your fibre intake to support the excretion of unopposed oestrogen, which is associated with pain, heavy bleeding and other health issues. Include foods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, wholegrains, vegetables and psyllium husks. It is essential to incorporate plenty of foods rich in essential fatty acids as the body does not produce essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids can be found in salmon (preferably wild-caught), sardines, flaxseeds, seaweeds, and walnuts. 



First and foremost, I will always recommend to my clients to obtain as much as they can from dietary sources. However, there is absolutely a place for supplements and nutritional medication to support healthy, pain-free menstrual cycles. Some of my favourites to lean into are: 


Magnesium: Magnesium may help to detoxify the body from oestrogen, as well as reducing cramping and prostaglandin F2 alpha, which may contribute to period pain. Zinc: Zinc may inhibit prostaglandins and inflammation associated with menstrual pain. It is also an amazing mineral to support the skin, which may be troublesome during your cycle. Iron: Certainly, not everyone needs an iron supplement, but it is important to get your levels checked (some things to check are: circulating iron, total iron-binding capacity [TIBC], transferrin, transferrin saturation, and ferritin). Unfortunately, the more iron deficient you are, the more likely you will experience a heavy cycle. B vitamins: The various B vitamins can all play a role in managing PMS symptoms. Vitamin B1 may be helpful in reducing period pain. Vitamin B6 may modulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA, both of which can impact pain, depression and anxiety. Vitamin B5 may support adrenal function, which supports the body’s ability to cope with stress. 


Please note that supplements need to be administered with thought and care. Please discuss the use of these supplements with your preferred healthcare provider. 




Herbal medicine can provide extreme relief for painful periods and may be helpful for reducing uterus spasms. Depending on the cause of the period pain, there are various herbs to consider weaving into your daily rhythm: 


Hormone regulating herbs: Vitex, peony, Tribulus, black cohosh. Uterine tonic herbs: Blue cohosh, raspberry leaf, false unicorn, Vitex. Antispasmodic herbs (to treat muscle spasms): Blue cohosh, wild yam, peony, cramp bark Warming herbs (these are important as poor circulation in the uterus region can contribute to period pain): Ginger, cinnamon, ginkgo biloba, rosemary. Nervine (relaxing) herbs: Valerian, Jamaican dogwood, corydalis, chamomile, skullcap. Anodyne (analgesic) herbs: Corydalis, Jamaican dogwood, dong quai, willow bark, California poppy. Liver tonics (to support hormonal clearance): Bupleurum, globe artichoke, St. Mary’s Thistle. As with supplements, before starting any herbal medicine it’s important to speak with a qualified herbalist or naturopath to determine if these herbs are suitable for you.




There are so many lifestyle factors that may help to reduce the pain and discomfort sometimes found with the menstrual cycle. These include:

Acupuncture. Castor oil packs. Massage. ExerciseSex (if you are up for period sex, orgasming may reduce muscle spasms and relieve pelvic congestion).


Looking for more ways to nourish your body in line with your monthly cycle? Read our guide to cyclical living


Images via Pinterest & The Beauty Chef.

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