I’m regularly asked if there are any herbs that will reduce the extreme discomfort of menstrual cramps. Formally known as Dysmenorrhea, menstrual cramps are possibly one of the top female complaints. Factors which may increase the pain experienced include anaemia, an increase in obesity, chronic illness, overwork, stress in general, diabetes, and poor nutrition (Hoffman, 2003.). Luckily, there are a few classical herbs that have withstood the test of time in Western Herbalism.

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)

Angelica sinensis RootDong Quai is universally regarded as the premier herb for female reproductive complaints. In the Vitalist tradition, it’s considered a moist, warming herb producing a tonic effect on the Uterus with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s best taken long term but if using specifically for upcoming menses, it’s best to start taking it around 5 days before it begins and continue until menses ends.

Dosage: 3000mg – 15,000mg daily either as capsules or liquid decoction.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)

Cimicifuga racemosaBlack Cohosh is another classic herb for female problems. It’s dry and cooling in traditional herbalism with potent anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and uterine tonic properties. As with Dong Quai, it’s best started before menses and continued long term but shouldn’t be taken for longer than 6 months.

Dosage: 500mg – 2000mg daily either as capsules or decoction.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Matricaria recutitaI’ve included Chamomile because it’s a seriously underrated herb and it’s relatively easy to get from anywhere. Traditional herbalists classify as a moistening herb with a neutral temperature. In menstrual cramps, its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and nervine qualities will become very useful. It’s best taken as a hot, strong tea but keep it covered to stop its volatile oils evaporating.

Dosage: 4000mg – 12,000mg daily as an infusion (4 – 6 teaspoons per cup)

I hope you’ve found this useful and hope even more that it’s helpful in what can truly be a week in hell. What has worked for you? Do you have any personal suggestions to other readers? Leave your comments below.


Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism : the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

Romm, A. J. (2010). Botanical medicine for women’s health. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

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