peppermintWhen you’ve got mild to moderate menstrual cramps, before reaching for an over-the-counter pain pill, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), try sipping peppermint tea up to three times per day during your period instead.

Two new studies (this and this) found that peppermint reduces the pain associated with menstrual cramps nearly as much as a low dose of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Credit goes to the menthol in mint, which relaxes spasming uterine muscles spurring cramp pain. Best of all, it eases the pain without the risks that come with using acetaminophen (such as liver damage) and ibuprofen (including stomach bleeding and a higher risk of heart attack).

In addition, the studies found peppermint reduces nausea and diarrhea associated with menstruation–benefits you don’t see with over-the-counter pain pills.

You can find pre-bagged peppermint tea in supermarkets or you can make it fresh at home by brewing one teaspoon of dried peppermint leaves for 10 minutes, then cool and strain.

While peppermint is generally safe for most people, it can cause heartburn in some folks and interact with some medications, such as certain antacids. You can learn more about peppermint here.

[Photo: Thomas]