As a knitter and a maker, as well as a person who spends much of work hours on her feet, I’m always on the lookout for a soothing treat for my body and mind. Add onto this that I am also a person with a uterus that seems to disagree with all the other body parts, I find that relaxation is especially hard around the time of my period.
Since roughly age 12, doctors have told me I just have “painful periods” and that I should basically just get over it. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common experience among uterus owners who have issues that fall within the balloon of “painful periods” including (but not limited to) endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), etc. Although I’ve never found a “cure” for my cramps, I have found a number of ways to help cope with it. I spend around 5-6 days a month wanting to be in the bed not moving, cuddled up with my heating pad, and drinking ginger ale. But sadly, adult life and demands of a small business keep me from being able to hibernate.
So I hope that this recipe, which I cobbled together from a number of tried and tested recipes that are long gone from my phone and computer, will help you deal with this issue as well. And, if you happen to be: a person without a uterus, a person who doesn’t experience brain melting cramps, or a person who just needs a muscle soothing bath — have no fear, this is a multi-use soak!
for relief of menstrual cramps, muscle ache, and soreness
You will also need: a mixing bowl (can be from the kitchen, just wash after), a spoon, measuring cups and spoons.
I like to add dried flowers and herbs to my salts, especially if I’m making them as a gift, but they are entirely optional. For this batch, I’ve used: lavender buds (harvested from my garden and dried in the oven), rose petals, and chamomile flowers.
Since I make a variation of this recipe often, I have premixed my grape seed and vitamin E oils and put them into a light safe, blue glass dropper bottle purchased from Whole Foods.
Mix salts in bowl, then add grape seed and vitamin E. You will find that this makes clumps, so using your spoon mash the clumps and continue to stir until the mixture is even.
If you have especially dry skin, you can add another 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E at this point.
Add 2-3 drops of all essential oils and Arnica. Mix again.
If you want to add dried flowers, add them now. If preparing this for a gift, I usually pack the salts away in a light safe glass jar (blue or brown glass) and add a few more petals or buds to the top. If making a lot of Cramp Salts, you will not want to add very many petals as they will disentigrate in the oil. Buds like lavender and chamomile will disintegrate slower and continue to impart fragrance. Rose petals are lovely but last the least time - just FYI.
Store in a dark place for up to a few months. You may find that the mixture gets hard after about a month, but will still mix perfectly well into your bath.
How I use Cramp Salts:
The recipe I’ve given you here will make about 2 baths worth of salts.
Add roughly 2 heaping tablespoons of mixture to your bath. Hot water is best for relieving menstrual cramps, so I make it as hot as I can stand it. Mix the salts around to dissolve. The flowers will float on the top of the water. It makes me feel like the Lady of Shalott, but that’s a topic for another blog post…
This is NOT a bath you want to linger in. Stay in the Cramp Salts bath for 15 minutes, or as long as it takes for the Epsom salts and Arnica to do their soothing, muscle relaxing work.
Arnica is a flower native to mountainous regions of the US and elsewhere, and the oil distilled from the flower has natural muscle relaxing properties. I’ve been using Arnica salves on my joints, sore muscles, and belly for cramps for years now, and I swear by it. Epsom salts have long been used for similar reasons, so this recipe sort of a 1-2 punch to your cramps.
The reason I have added grape seed and vitamin E to this bath, is because plain Epsom salts can be irritating to the skin and drying, to boot. The grape seed and vitamin E help counteract this.
Once you’re done in the bath, do not scrub off the oils, but instead pat yourself dry and massage in any leftover oil. The oils will remain on your skin and help with re-hydrating the skin and soothing your body. I like to dry off, wrap myself in a towel, and lay flat in bed for a few minutes after the bath until my body comes back to a normal temperature. Launching straight into your next activity is a little counter-intuitive to the relaxation bit of this ritual. Light some candles. Listen to a podcast. Do some things for you while you air dry a bit.
I hope this recipe and ritual is helpful to you. If you try it, please let me know in the comments below.
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