My Hormonology

If you get hit with painful menstrual cramps, you’ve probably tried a wide variety of methods to get rid of them.

But, have you tried honey?

Stay with me on this one because I’m about to blow your mind.

Honey prevents menstrual cramps

In a new study in the journal Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, researchers discovered that one tablespoon of honey taken daily during the two weeks prior to your period is just as effective as taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) during your period to reduce cramp pain.

Sounds too easy to work, but the study authors were fairly rigorous with how they tested this: They gave one group of 28 women who get menstrual cramps about a tablespoon of honey once daily between Day 15 and the end of their cycle. And they gave another group of 28 menstrual cramp sufferers the NSAID painkiller mefenamic acid (500 mg. at the start of their period, then 250 mg. every six hours for two days). Both groups of women followed this protocol for two months. Then, they had a “wash out” month where they didn’t use either cramp remedy. Then, these groups switched and those who used honey were now given the NSAID.

In the end, the women reported feeling just as much cramp relief from the honey as from the drug.

How can honey be a cramp-killer? 

You might associate honey with tea, cough remedies and honey butter spread. But, a remedy for pain? Yes. As the study authors explain it, honey contains compounds that lower the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals behind menstrual cramp pain. By taking honey in the two weeks prior to menstruation, you prevent the buildup of these pain-causing compounds. As a result, when menstruation begins, having a lower buildup of prostaglandins translates into less pain.

Can this study be trusted? 

Like most studies, this one needs to be replicated with more women. And, it should be noted that taking one to two NSAID pills on the three days leading up to menstruation works more effectively at reducing menstrual cramp pain than waiting to take them until menstruation begins. That’s because NSAIDs also reduce the production of prostaglandins–and less of this chemical prior to your period means less pain. So, it may be that the NSAID had a less powerful painkilling impact because it was already too late to tamp down the aches caused by prostaglandins.

Still, the women in this study report experiencing pain relief from consuming honey. And, since honey is well-tolerated by most people and doesn’t come with the risks of stomach bleeding and heart issues tied to NSAIDs, it’s certainly worth trying.

For another proven cramp-buster, consider taking 200 IU of vitamin E twice daily on the two days leading up to your period and the first three days of bleeding. This nutrient also reduces prostaglandins that cause menstrual pain, according to a 2005 study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

If you try honey to rein in your period pain, let me know how it works for you!

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My Hormonology