Moderate cramping is a normal part of your period. Nevertheless, these cramps are painful and can interfere with everyday life.
Rather than over-the-counter medications, some women turn to tea to help relieve their cramps naturally.
Some research supports the use of certain teas for menstrual cramps and the associated bloating and discomfort of your period. Still, overall, the evidence is relatively weak.
That said, you may personally find that some of these teas help alleviate your cramps or pain. Since they’re all considered safe to consume, they may be worthwhile.
Here are 8 teas that may help with menstrual cramps.
1. Red raspberry leaf tea
Red raspberry leaf tea is made from the leaves of raspberry plants. It has a mild taste that’s similar to that of black tea. It doesn’t taste like raspberries.
People use it for various purposes related to women’s health, such as its reported ability to stimulate uterine contractions.
Anecdotal sources say it may help tone the uterus, making it stronger. However, uterine contractions are what cause menstrual cramps, so if this is the case, red raspberry leaf tea may worsen your cramps.
However, despite its long history of use, there’s not much research to support the use of red raspberry leaf tea for women’s health. One of the most recent animal studies on red raspberry leaf tea found that it didn’t affect mouse uterine contractions.
However, many anecdotal reports online from women claim that red raspberry leaf tea reduces their cramps.
Summary: Not much evidence is available on the effects of raspberry leaf tea on period cramps. One study in mice found it had no effect. However, anecdotal sources state it may stimulate uterine contractions. More research is needed.
2. Ginger tea
Ginger tea is made from pungent, spicy ginger root.
People have used ginger for many years for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Today, it’s a commonly recommended home remedy for various ailments, including menstrual cramps.
Because it has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, it may help with both pain and bloating.
One review of 7 studies, including over 600 women, found that consuming 750–2,000 mg of ginger powder during the first 3–4 days of their period appeared to help reduce period pain.
Another study of 168 female college students noted that taking 200 mg of ginger every 6 hours was as effective as the drug Novafen, a combination of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and caffeine, at reducing menstrual pain.
Summary: Studies have found that various preparations of ginger may help reduce bloating and relieve menstrual pain. However, no studies have examined ginger tea’s effects on menstrual cramps. More research is needed.
3. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is made of dried flowers and has a mild floral taste.
While it doesn’t appear to directly affect menstrual cramps, it may help promote better sleep and reduce fatigue. Moreover, one study of more than 1,000 female college students found that poor sleep was associated with more severe menstrual problems.
One small study had 118 women take 250 mg of chamomile 3 times per day from the week leading up to their period until the start of their next period. Taking the chamomile resulted in less menstrual bleeding compared with a placebo.
Summary: There’s no evidence that chamomile tea reduces menstrual cramps specifically. However, it may help promote better sleep. Scientists need to conduct more research on its effects on menstrual cramps.
4. Peppermint tea
Peppermint tea is made from the leaves of the peppermint plant. Peppermint is rich in menthol, a strong-smelling compound that offers several potential health benefits along with its cooling sensation.
Suggested read: 11 benefits of spearmint tea and essential oil
Many people use peppermint essential oil as a home remedy for gastrointestinal pain, particularly related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The menthol in peppermint oil helps decrease smooth muscle spasms, reducing painful stomach cramps.
Although there’s no evidence to support the use of peppermint for menstrual cramps, anecdotal sources say the menthol may help reduce uterine contractions, thereby reducing cramping.
However, scientists don’t know whether the low amounts of menthol in peppermint tea, particularly after digestion and absorption, would affect the uterus.
Summary: Some evidence shows peppermint oil may help relieve stomach cramps and gastrointestinal pain, but no evidence supports its use for menstrual cramps. Scientists need to do more research on this.
5. Cinnamon tea
Cinnamon tea has a sweet, mildly spicy, warm flavor from the dried cinnamon used.
Some evidence suggests that cinnamon may help reduce inflammation, reducing the uncomfortable bloating that often accompanies your menstrual cycle.
Cinnamon may also help manage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by poor blood sugar regulation and menstrual irregularities.
Summary: Cinnamon may help decrease inflammation and help manage PCOS. However, scientists need to do more research on the effects of cinnamon tea on menstrual cramps.
6. Green tea
Green tea is made from dried Camellia sinensis leaves that haven’t been aged. In contrast, people make black tea from dried, aged leaves.
Green tea is pale and has a mildly earthy and floral taste. It has been a part of traditional herbal medicine in China for thousands of years.
Green tea contains antioxidant compounds and some anti-inflammatory effects that may help reduce bloating. It also contains the compound L-theanine, which studies suggest may help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Suggested read: The 6 best bedtime teas that help you sleep
One study including 1,183 women also noted that drinking green tea was associated with decreased menstrual pain compared to drinking other tea types.
Summary: Green tea delivers many healthy antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, and it contains a compound that may relax you. One study showed that women who drank green tea had reduced menstrual pain.
7. Thyme tea
Thyme is a popular culinary herb that may also provide several health benefits. It has a robust and earthy flavor that makes a tasty tea that people in some parts of the world commonly enjoy.
A study of 252 Ethiopian teenagers found that drinking thyme tea was associated with a 63.2% decrease in menstrual pain. However, this was a small study, and other studies have not replicated its results.
Summary: One small study suggests thyme tea may help with menstrual cramps. However, scientists need to do more research on these potential effects.
8. Oolong tea
Oolong tea is a cross between green and black tea, offering some potential health benefits of both.
The leaves are dried and partially aged, resulting in a tea that can vary in color from pale yellow to orange and taste like a mix of green and black tea.
The same study that found green tea was associated with decreased menstrual pain also found a slightly weaker association between oolong tea and reduced menstrual pain.
Summary: Oolong tea may be associated with reduced menstrual pain, but scientists need to research these potential effects.
Downsides and precautions
Very little research supports any of these teas’ ability to reduce menstrual cramp pain. Teas from this list that have some evidence behind their positive effects are ginger tea, green tea, thyme tea, and oolong tea.
However, even with these teas, the evidence is pretty weak — coming only from a single study in the cases of thyme tea, green tea, and oolong tea.
Additionally, researchers used powdered ginger supplements rather than ginger tea for the studies that found a link between ginger and reduced menstrual cramps. Thus, whether ginger tea also exerts these effects is still unknown.
Fortunately, the most widely available teas are unlikely to harm you, so they’re safe to drink even if they don’t reduce your menstrual symptoms.
However, you should avoid most herbal teas if you think you may be pregnant, especially the following two teas:
- Red raspberry leaf tea. Women often use red raspberry leaf tea late in pregnancy to help induce labor. For this reason, some people avoid it during early pregnancy. However, there’s currently no evidence that shows this tea induces labor.
- Parsley tea. Parsley tea may induce uterine contractions and has been used as a home remedy to help start your period early. Also, anecdotal sources report people consuming large quantities to induce abortion, so avoid it if you think you may be pregnant.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of herbal teas if you’re taking any medications they may interact with. If you have any concerns about this, discuss them with your healthcare provider.
It’s important to remember that tea made from tea leaves contains caffeine. That includes green tea, black tea, and oolong tea. You should limit your caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day.
Here’s the estimated caffeine content of 1 cup (240 mL) of these common teas:
- Green tea: 29 mg
- Black tea: 48 mg
- Oolong tea: 38 mg
These are just estimates. It’s important to note that the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea varies, including the steeping time and caffeine content of the particular batch of tea.
Finally, speak with your healthcare provider if home remedies or over-the-counter medications don’t seem to reduce your severe menstrual cramping.
Summary: Factors to consider when choosing a tea include whether you’re pregnant or taking medication and how much caffeine you’re comfortable consuming. Speak with a healthcare provider for more information if you’re concerned.
Tea may be a promising alternative to over-the-counter medications to help manage menstrual cramps.
While several teas might help reduce menstrual cramping and pain, the ones with some scientific evidence to support their use include ginger tea, green tea, thyme tea, and oolong tea.
Suggested read: 11 health benefits of ginger: Effect on nausea, the brain & more
However, the evidence is currently very limited, and scientists need to do more research on the effects of these teas on menstrual cramps in humans.
If you think you might be pregnant, consider avoiding most herbal teas to be on the safe side, particularly red raspberry leaf tea and parsley tea.
Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you want more guidance on what teas are ok for you to drink or if you’re having difficulty managing painful menstrual cramps.