For those of the female persuasion, that dreaded "time of the month" can often be very painful, even crippling, at least for those who experience severe cramping. I usually have some discomfort for the first few days, and several days prior to getting my period, but (thankfully) I left behind those tear-inducing cramps in my 20s.
For those who aren't allergic to ragweed, there's some very good news: In a fairly recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (January, 2005) Chamomile was found to be very beneficial in relieving menstrual cramps, among other things. Researchers at Imperial College of London discovered that volunteers who drank 5 cups a day of German chamomile tea for two weeks showed elevated levels of both glycine and hippurate in their urine. Glycine has the benefit of relieving muscle spasms and relaxing the uterus, which would account for its efficacy with regard to menstrual cramping. The higher levels of hippurate (which has anti-bacterial properties) would explain why chamomile is also great for fighting infections; however that's another post.
The wonderful thing about chamomile is that the levels of hippurate and glycine remained high for at least 2 weeks after the study participants stopped drinking the tea, which indicates that drinking chamomile tea has positive, long-term healing affects.
I drink tea with chamomile for other reasons, but I think I might up my intake next month!
I will post about the other health benefits of chamomile soon.
Caution: Please do your research before starting any herbal regimen. As mentioned, those allergic to ragweed should avoid chamomile, as should those on warfarin (blood thinning medication).