As period cramps are the symptoms which come every month. Thus, efforts should be done to provide a treatment strategy that is effective and does not have side effects. Chocolate contains various ingredients that help relieving the symptoms of menstrual cramps.
Does Chocolate Help Cramps?
Chocolate provide relief from the menstrual cramps, thanks to the ingredients present in the chocolate. The chocolate helps relieving the tiredness and severity of muscle cramps. It should be noted that the chocolate contains high fats and calories, thus the consumption of chocolate should be limited. Further, the chocolate used for believing the menstrual cramps should be high in quality i.e. it should contain high percentage of cocoa.1 Various ingredients that helps managing the cramps are as follows:
Magnesium: Magnesium is an important mineral required for neuromuscular transmission and also helps in muscle contraction. It has been found that deficiency of magnesium may cause cramps and it has been advised to supplement magnesium in muscle cramps. The magnesium present in the chocolate helps relieving the cramps.
Endorphins: Endorphins are the human opioids which are used to reduce the pain. It is the same chemical that is released when the person performs exercise. It helps promoting analgesic effect and destroys the chemical responsible for muscle cramps such as prostaglandins.2
Fats: The fats present in the chocolate may help in providing energy as well as improves the pain due to cramping. It should also be noted that the chocolate should be taken in limited quantity as high quantity may cause bloating and weight gain.
Flavonoids: These are the class of antioxidants which scavenges the free radicals, reduces inflammation and promotes tissue healing. Conclusion of studies confirms the efficacy of flavonoids in reducing the muscle cramps.3
Other Ingredients: Other substances such as iron and potassium are also present in the chocolate that helps reliving the cramps and also manages mood swing.
Home Remedies For Cramps
Heating Pads: Heating pads reduces inflammation and helps reliving the symptoms of cramps. It is one of the oldest methods to get rid of pain and inflammation. A study concluded that the hot pad application on the abdomen has the similar anti-inflammatory effect as ibuprofen.4
Cooling Pads: The ice is wrapped in a cloth and gently applied on the abdomen to relive the pain due to cramp. Cooling pads reduces the inflammation and also provides a cooling effect that helps reducing pain.
Massage: Massage is an effective method for promoting blood circulation. Massage with essential oils is found to be more effective as compared to massage without oils. The essential oils used for massaging includes lavender oil and marjoram oil. The massaging should be done by an expert as it involves the pressing of effective points which helps relieving pain.5
Over-The-Counter Drugs: Various over-the-counter drugs are used to help relieve cramps and other symptoms of the menstrual cycle. The drugs used for this condition consists of analgesics, muscle relaxant and diuretics. Analgesic drugs may include mefenamic acid, ibuprofen and paracetamol while the muscle relaxant includes dicyclomine, baclofen and cyclobenzaprine. Pamabrom can be used as diuretic.6
Peppermint Oil: Application of peppermint oil on the belly helps relieve the symptoms of cramps. Further, it also helps in managing nausea and headache due to the menthol component present in peppermint oil.
Vitamin D: As prostaglandins are primarily responsible for the development of period cramps, vitamin D proves effective by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins.7
Green Tea: A natural antioxidant, green tea reduces the oxidative stress and scavenger free radical. It contains flavonoid which has anti-inflammatory property.
Chamomile Tea: Chamomile contains the flavonoid that helps relieve the muscle cramps. It also has anti-inflammatory property and helps relaxing uterine muscles.
Ginger: Ginger has the anti-inflammatory property which helps relieving the muscle cramps and also manages indigestion and bloating.
Exercise: Doing slow exercise helps releasing the endomorphins which are known as internal opioid. These reduce pain due to muscle cramps.8
Chocolate contains magnesium, iron and potassium that improves muscular functioning while fats, endomorphins and flavonoids also helps relieve symptoms of menstrual cycle.