Herbs & Natural Remedies:
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and fish oil.
Black cohosh: tincture or other commercial preparation. Raspberry: tea or tincture. Yarrow: tea. Fish oil: capsules.
How it Works:
Black cohosh contains plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) that reduce cramping. Raspberry contains oligomeric procyanidins, compounds that relax the uterus. Yarrow relaxes the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus. Fish oil contains fatty acids that interfere with the action of specific prostaglandins that cause cramping.
Black cohosh: follow package directions. Raspberry: 1 to 2 teaspoons of leaves per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 minutes. Yarrow: 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of boiling water; steep 10 minutes and drink up to 3 cups daily. Fish oil: follow package directions. When using tinctures, follow package directions.
Any herb may cause allergic or sensitivity reactions.
Dehydration intensifies cramps. Drink plenty of water around the time of your period. Try a heating pad on your abdomen. Experiment with eliminating meat and dairy foods. Get regular, moderate exercise.
San Francisco health writer Michael Castleman is the author of 11 consumer health books. Visit