Korean researches have published the results of a review of 27 studies which included 3000 women and say that acupuncture may provide significantly better relief from menstrual cramps than herbs and medications typically used to treat menstrual cramps. The researchers, from the Oriental Hospital at Kyung Hee University Medical Center in South Korea, say that the evidence is convincing that acupuncture is an effective method for relieving menstrual pain.
How does having a bunch of needles poked into you relieve pain? Acupuncture is believed to relieve menstrual cramps by stimulating the body's production of endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are naturally-occurring compounds created by the body during exercise and excitement to produce a feeling of well-being. Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain that plays a key role in depression when serotonin levels are low.
Does this mean you should rush out and find an acupuncturist? Not necessarily, the researchers say there is some question about the methodology of some of the studies reviewed and that further clinical trials are needed before a more definitive conclusion can be reached. Until then, traditional treatments including exercise, applying heat to the lower abdomen and / or back, and painkillers may be your best bet for relieving your menstrual cramps.