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Leaves from the Garden Relieved Her Menstrual Cramps

Q. I experience severe menstrual cramps when I start my period. After I read about  a tea of dandelion leaves and parsley as a remedy for bloating experienced with PMS, I tried it in desperation. I always get relief from the tea as quickly as I do if I take Anaprox, and I feel much better about drinking leaf tea than taking a prescription drug.

I usually have fresh parsley in my garden and now let a dandelion plant have a place in it, too. For the tea I just take one stem of parsley and a couple of dandelion leaves and chop them up, put them in a tea ball and pour boiling water over them, steep a few minutes and drink.

A. Thank you for sharing your recipe and your experience. Dandelions (which, believe it or not, are cultivated in France and Germany) have been studied for diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects. Parsley was traditionally used for painful menstruation, although the oil can stimulate uterine contractions and thus should be avoided by pregnant women. Parsley oil also has a mild diuretic effect.

Both dandelion and parsley leaves are extremely rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, carotenoids, B vitamins and vitamin C. The main danger comes from collecting parsley in the wild: it can be confused with poisonous plants. Stick to your garden parsley, and enjoy the benefits!

Doctors often prescribe ibuprofen or naproxen for cramps. These medications can be helpful, but they do have side effects. For more information on the pros and cons of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) here is a link. Fortunately, a few days of an NSAID each month is usually not a big hazard.

What other remedies work? Share your own experience with treatment for menstrual cramps below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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