CRAMPS One way to decrease the inflammation and muscle cramps brought on by elevated hormones is by upping your intake of magnesium, says Katherine A. Thurer, M.D., an integrative gynecologist at the Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. The mineral is thought to play a role in both muscle function and calcium absorption, both of which are crucial to muscle relaxation. Thurer recommends a daily supplement to help reduce pain, or up your intake of magnesium-heavy foods, like dark, leafy greens or even— surprise!—chocolate.
BLOATING You may be craving salt, but think twice before reaching for that bag of potato chips. “These foods will actually make you retain more fluids,” says herbalist Brigitte Mars, co-author of The Country Almanac of Home Remedies. She recommends herbs that are diuretic and not depleting—like a dandelion leaf tea.
FATIGUE The likely culprit for that sluggishness you feel during your pe- riod? A lack of iron, says Thurer. “It’s the number-one thing you’re probably missing, due to blood loss.” Make sure your body’s storing enough of the nutri- ent, either by supplementing or through your diet. Meat is the most common food source, but stinging nettle and raspberry leaf teas can also help maintain iron levels.