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3 Underrated Nutrients You Didn’t Know Were Powerful Period Pain Busters

When it comes to managing period pain, you’ve probably tried the conventional remedies like over-the-counter painkillers, heat packs, and perhaps a hot cup of ginger tea for good measure. But if you’re finding they fall short, you’re not alone. While your doctor may be the one to hook you up with the good stuff, those of you searching for a natural fix need look no further. We’ve got three outside-the-box nutrients you need to try. 

It's worth noting that there's a link between inflammation, period pain and a high-sugar diet. 

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For many women, menstrual cramps are an all-too-familiar monthly ordeal. The dull ache, the sharp twinges, being doubled over in pain – it's a reality that millions of women around the world contend with on the regular. And while over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can offer some relief, they often come with side effects and limitations. Plus, they only address the symptoms without addressing the underlying causes of period pain. But what if we could take a more holistic approach to period pain relief? What if we could tap into the power of nature's pharmacy and leverage the body's own healing mechanisms to alleviate discomfort.  

When it comes to alleviating period pain, many people turn to well-known remedies like ibuprofen or heating pads. However, there are lesser-known nutrients that can also offer relief from menstrual cramps. Let's explore three such nutrients:


L-Theanine is an amino acid primarily found in tea leaves, particularly in green tea. It's known for its calming and relaxing effects on the mind and body. While L-Theanine is not typically associated with period pain relief, its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation can indirectly help alleviate menstrual cramps. During menstruation, stress levels can increase, leading to heightened muscle tension and exacerbation of pain. L-Theanine works by increasing the production of calming neurotransmitters like GABA, which can help reduce stress and tension in the body. By promoting relaxation, L-Theanine may help ease the severity of menstrual cramps and improve overall comfort during menstruation. Let’s unpack how it works:

Neurotransmitter Modulation: One of the key mechanisms behind L-theanine's effectiveness in managing period pain lies in its ability to modulate neurotransmitters in the brain. L-theanine increases the production of several neurotransmitters, including gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, and dopamine, while simultaneously reducing levels of excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate.

GABA Activation: GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, responsible for promoting relaxation and reducing neuronal excitability. By enhancing GABA levels, L-theanine exerts an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and calming effect on the central nervous system. This relaxation response extends beyond mental stress relief to include physical relaxation of smooth muscles, such as those found in the uterus. 

Reduction of Pro-inflammatory Cytokines: In addition to its effects on neurotransmitters, L-theanine has been shown to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) – those may sound like scientific jargon, but to put it simply, these cytokines play a significant role in promoting inflammation and pain during menstruation. In fewer words? They’re the nuisances causing those painful cramps. So, by dampening the inflammatory response, L-theanine helps mitigate period pain and discomfort. 

Stress Reduction: Stress is a common exacerbating factor for menstrual cramps, as it can trigger hormonal imbalances and increase muscle tension. L-theanine's ability to induce a state of relaxation and mental calmness helps counteract the effects of stress on the body. By promoting stress resilience and reducing cortisol levels, L-theanine contributes to a more balanced hormonal environment, leading to less severe menstrual symptoms.

Enhanced Blood Flow: L-theanine has also been shown to improve blood flow and circulation, which can be beneficial for alleviating menstrual cramps. By promoting vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels), L-theanine ensures that oxygen and nutrients reach the pelvic region more efficiently, reducing muscle tension and pain.

Sources of L-Theanine: The primary dietary source of L-theanine is tea, particularly green tea – but if black tea is more your cup of, well, tea, you’re in luck as you’ll get a good dose of it there too. However, L-theanine can also be found in smaller amounts in certain mushrooms, such as Boletus badius.

Supplementation: While L-theanine is naturally present in tea, supplementation may be necessary to achieve therapeutic levels for managing period pain. L-theanine supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders. It's essential to choose a high-quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer to ensure purity and potency. 

What we put on our plates is a major part of managing inflammation and period pain. That's why we're inviting you to come join us for the 8-Week Program. You don’t have to buy exotic ingredients or splash your cash on new appliances; every tool you need, you’ve likely already got, and our ingredients are easily found at your local grocer. Because we know how challenging it can be to make a change in your life, and it’s the little things that make it that much easier (and fun!). 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E isn’t just good for your skin! This powerhouse nutrient is a well-known but underutilised remedy for period pain. How? Well, this fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. While it's often associated with skin health and immune function, vitamin E may also offer benefits for period pain relief. Studies have suggested that vitamin E supplementation may help reduce the severity and duration of menstrual cramps. Here’s how.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: One of the primary mechanisms through which vitamin E helps alleviate period pain is its anti-inflammatory properties. Menstrual cramps are often caused by the release of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins, which promote uterine contractions and pain. Vitamin E helps mitigate inflammation by neutralising free radicals and reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. 

Regulation of Prostaglandins: In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, vitamin E has been shown to modulate prostaglandin synthesis, particularly prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Prostaglandins, including PGE2, play a significant role in triggering uterine contractions during menstruation. Excessive levels of PGE2 can lead to stronger and more prolonged contractions, resulting in increased pain and discomfort. Vitamin E helps regulate prostaglandin levels, thereby reducing the severity of menstrual cramps.

Muscle Relaxation: Vitamin E may also contribute to muscle relaxation, further aiding in pain relief during menstruation. Smooth muscle contractions in the uterus are responsible for expelling the uterine lining during menstruation. Vitamin E's ability to promote muscle relaxation can help ease uterine contractions, reducing the intensity of period pain.

Improvement in Blood Flow: Some research suggests that vitamin E may improve blood flow to the pelvic region, which can help alleviate menstrual cramps. By enhancing circulation, vitamin E ensures that oxygen and nutrients reach the pelvic muscles, promoting relaxation and reducing pain.

Vitamin E is found naturally in various foods, including:

  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of vitamin E.
  • Green Leafy Vegetables: Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in vitamin E.
  • Plant Oils: Olive oil, sunflower oil, and wheat germ oil contain vitamin E.
  • Avocado: This creamy fruit is a good source of vitamin E.
  • Whole Grains: Foods like wheat germ, brown rice, and whole wheat bread provide vitamin E. 

Supplementation: While getting vitamin E from food sources is ideal, supplementation may be beneficial for some individuals, especially those with low dietary intake or specific health conditions. Vitamin E supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, softgels, and oils. It's essential to choose a high-quality supplement and follow the recommended dosage provided by healthcare professionals.

Safety Considerations: In general, vitamin E is considered safe for most people when consumed within recommended dietary levels. However, high doses of vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of bleeding, especially in individuals taking blood-thinning medications. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are pregnant.

Cramp Bark

It’s all in the name with this one – sorry, Juliet! Cramp bark, also known as Viburnum opulus, is a lesser-known herbal remedy that has been traditionally used to relieve muscle spasms and menstrual cramps, notably by the Indigenous peoples of North America, such as the Cherokee and Iroquois tribes, using the remedy as a muscle relaxant. It contains compounds like valerenic acid and scopoletin, which have muscle-relaxing and antispasmodic effects. Cramp bark works by relaxing the smooth muscles of the uterus, thereby reducing the intensity of uterine contractions and easing menstrual cramps. While research on cramp bark specifically is limited, anecdotal evidence and traditional use suggest that it may be effective for some individuals in relieving period pain.

Cramp bark is available in various forms, including teas, tinctures, and capsules. It's essential to follow dosage recommendations and consult with a healthcare professional before using cramp bark, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are pregnant. 

How Cramp Bark Works: Cramp bark contains several active compounds, including valerenic acid, scopoletin, and viburnin, which contribute to its medicinal properties. These compounds are believed to have muscle-relaxing, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. During menstruation, the smooth muscles of the uterus contract to help shed the uterine lining, resulting in menstrual cramps. Cramp bark works by relaxing these uterine muscles, thereby reducing the intensity and frequency of uterine contractions. By promoting muscle relaxation, cramp bark can help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cramps. Additionally, cramp bark may also have mild analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, further contributing to its effectiveness in relieving period pain.

Cramp bark is available in various forms, including:

Dried Herb: The dried bark of the cramp bark shrub can be used to prepare teas or infusions. To make cramp bark tea, simply steep one to two teaspoons of dried cramp bark in hot water for 10-15 minutes, then strain and drink.

Tincture: Cramp bark tincture is made by extracting the active compounds of the plant into alcohol or glycerin. Tinctures are convenient and easy to dose, usually taken by adding a few drops to water or juice.

Capsules or Tablets: Cramp bark supplements are available in capsule or tablet form, providing a convenient way to consume the herb. These supplements typically contain dried cramp bark extract in standardised doses.

Drug Interactions: Cramp bark may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and drugs that affect blood pressure. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using cramp bark, particularly if you are taking any medications or have any health concerns.

Pregnant women should avoid using cramp bark, as it may stimulate uterine contractions and potentially lead to miscarriage or preterm labour.

What you put on your plate plays a major role in your wellbeing, and we’ve put in the hard yards so you can enjoy the benefits of an extensive, wholistic program that covers everything from learning how to manage nutrition and mental health to social situations. Plus, our specially-designed app has streamlined features, 2500 recipes, 1:1 coaching and exclusive exercise courses to help you combat the cravings. When you join us for the 8-Week Program you’ll have exclusive access to expert guidance, nutritional planning and support every step of the way. Take a peek at what’s on offer:

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