Menstrual Mamas: Cramp Cures from Mom

Mothers may tell their daughters to eat some weird and wacky things, but some of them may actually work. ORANGE asked students at the University of Texas at Austin what advice their mothers gave them that actually help ease their menstrual blues.

By Mae Hamilton
Illustrations by Daniela Munoz

Parsley Tea

Late periods are often uncomfortable and can leave women feeling bloated and unhappy. To get rid of that pre-period icky feeling, simply take about half a bunch of parsley, brew in a medium sized sauce pot, strain the leaves and voila, you have a cup of parsley tea. Although the taste is unpleasant for some, some women use this tea to regulate wacky cycles. “My mom absolutely swears by this tea,” history and english junior Evan Rothjan says. “It’s been effective every time I’ve used it.”

Black Sugar

While women in the United States tend to turn to chocolate when “Aunt Flow” visits, some Japanese and Taiwanese women eat or drink black sugar. Black sugar comes from the isles of Okinawa and contains molasses. Unrefined black sugar is said to be packed with potassium and iron. For a quick, soothing cure for cramps, simply heat up a cup of water, add three tablespoons of black sugar, stir, and you have a soothing cup of hot sugar water packed with all sorts of vitamin goodness to ease PMS pains.

Dried Red Date Tea

Red dates have many uses in traditional Chinese medicine. Even today, many Chinese celebrities like Xiaowen Ju swear by red date tea, saying the tea keeps their skin youthful and gives it a spry glow. Red dates, also known as jujube berries, are believed to help circulation as well as keep the body’s energy warm. “Whenever I got my period when I was younger, my mom would always make me red date soup or tea,” English senior Janice Poe says. “Now that I’m living on my own, I still make red date tea for myself.” Red date tea is very easy to make. Simply put five or six dates in a coffee cup of water — with or without sugar — strain and drink.

Ginger

Ginger has been used by traditional medicinal practitioners in the Middle East, India and East Asia since ancient times. Ginger is a known gastro-intestinal anti-inflammatory but can be used to help decrease heavy menstrual flows as well as ease the pain of cramps. “My mom is interested in homeopathic cures and she told me to try ginger,” English honors junior Annyston Pennington says. “Now, I always keep a bag of ginger chews in hand.”

Cinnamon Tea

Although it may be surprising that this popular Christmas cookie spice can help with menstrual cramps, cinnamon is effective in treating cramps because of its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Simply boil a coffee cup’s worth of water and a teaspoon or stick of cinnamon to ward off bad cramps. “One of my strongest memories of first getting my period is my mom making a cup of cinnamon tea,” psychology and English senior Angelica Guajardo says. “I think it works pretty well.”

When it’s that time of the month, consider trying some advice that has been passed down from mothers to these UT students. You might be surprised that they work.