Stomachache? Cramps? Here’s how to get relief—naturally.
If you’re prone to constipation, “an apple a day will make you go more easily, thanks to its high water and fiber content,” says Chris Kilham, founder of Medicine Hunter, Inc., and author of Tales From the Medicine Trail: Tracking Down the Health Secrets of Shamans, Herbalists, Mystics, Yogis and Other Healers. Peaches, pears, dried figs, and prunes also work as natural laxatives.
Dose: One or more apples daily.
Numerous studies show that ginger reduces nausea and morning sickness. The spicy root’s antispasmodic effects also ease an upset stomach.
Dose: Take a 500-milligram capsule two to three times a day, as needed. Or try crystallized ginger chews, or sip ginger tea. However, dried ginger works best for nausea and vomiting.
Check the Label: If you’re pregnant, don’t take any product that lists “ginger extract,” a concentrated form of ginger that can be unsafe during pregnancy.
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or chronic stomach pain, taking peppermint oil before a meal can reduce intestinal cramping and bloating better than a placebo, according to a British Medical Journal study.
Dose: Take an enteric-coated capsule containing 0.2 milliliter of peppermint oil about 30 minutes before each meal. The coating allows the oil to reach the intestines more quickly. Peppermint tea can help with general stomach upset, but if you suffer from heartburn, be cautious: Peppermint can cause flare-ups.
Derived from a volcanic mineral called sassolite, this natural antibacterial agent was found to be just as effective as standard OTC suppositories in treating yeast infections, but with few side effects, according to a 2011 Journal of Women's Health review of 14 studies.
Dose: “Fill each capsule with 500 to 600 milligrams and insert one into your vagina every day for five to seven days,” says Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., chair of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention Dietary Supplements Admissions Committee, author of Healthy at Home: Get Well and Stay Well Without Prescriptions, and former member of the White House Commission on Complementary & Alternative Medicine Policy. (You can buy boric acid and empty gelatin capsules at most pharmacies.) Never take boric acid by mouth, and don’t use it if you’re pregnant.
The tart berry contains antioxidants that can help you recover from a urinary tract infection (UTI) faster. Although the antioxidants don’t kill the UTI-causing bacteria, they make it difficult for the bacteria to cling to the wall of the urinary tract, so they can be expelled when you urinate.
Dose: Take an 800- to 1,000-milligram cranberry capsule daily, or drink a glass of pure, unsweetened cranberry juice daily.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These inflammation-easing fats can dramatically reduce menstrual cramps in just three months, says Low Dog.
Dose: A 1- to 2-gram supplement daily.