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Taming the Goddess Within: Herbs for Women

Being a woman is a beautiful, fantastic way to navigate through the world. Unfortunately it does not come without its dues. Luckily our bodily challenges offer an array of possible solutions. Women’s bodies have the capacity to go through many stages and interesting changes. One of issues that women can face is Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, known as PMS.

PMS affects many women one or two weeks before menstruation. Physical as well as emotional symptoms can surface. Physical symptoms include headache, migraines, fatigue, insomnia, fluid retention, breast tenderness, food cravings, weight gain, muscle aches, joint pain, abdominal cramps, skin eruptions, and altered libido. Possible emotional changes include anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, depression, thoughts of suicide, mood swings, and crying spells. Intensity of symptoms vary from month to month, and woman to woman. There are even symptom-free months!

There are some theories on the causes of PMS, but they vary and seem to be uncertain. One possible factor involved is a declining level of estrogen and progesterone just prior to menstruation. Another theory assigns PMS to some neurochemicals changes in the brain. A woman’s diet may alleviate certain symptoms. A body operates and responds to change and stress much better when it gets the nutrition it needs—that means more whole foods and less processed snacks. A person’s psychological health can also contribute to the symptoms of PMS. Mental distress can cause physical stress. There may be an underlying psychological condition that increases the symptoms of PMS, but more studies are needed prior to making any direct claims.

Where do we go from here? Fortunately there are a lot of herbs that are indicated for the symptoms of PMS. Some of the herbs are also indicated for menopause, when women transition and stop ovulating and other menstrual related concerns such as amenorrhea, the loss of periods, and dysmenorrhea, painful menstruation.

  • Angelica or Dong Qui (angelica sinensis) root is indicated for menstrual irregularities. It has blood circulating properties which helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
  • Black Cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa) is used to relieve nerve pain and menstrual cramps with back pain. It may also help to relieve menopausal symptoms and induce labor. It is also said to be effective in balancing hormones and in the treatment of PMS.
  • Chamomile (matricaria recutita) relieves muscle pain and reduces inflammation. It is helpful for menstrual cramps, headaches, stress, anxiety and insomnia.
  • Chaste Tree (vitex agnuscastus) restores normal menstrual flow. It decreases water retention during menstruation. Regulates and balances hormone levels. It is helpful during PMS and menopause.
  • Corn Silk (zea mays) helps reduce fluid retention.
  • Cramp bark (viburnum opulus) helps relieve muscle spasms and pain. It is indicated for menstrual cramps.
  • Dandelion (taraxacum officinale) acts as a natural diuretic and reduces bloating. It can help relieve menopausal symptoms and PMS symptoms, for it facilitates the metabolism of estrogens.
  • Evening Primrose (oenothera biennis) is used to treat inflammatory conditions, PMS, and anxiety.
  • Feverfew (chrysanthemum parthenium) is helpful for inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual pain, headaches, and migraines.
  • Fennel (foeniculum vulgare) is an antispasmodic. It relieves abdominal cramping and bloating caused by gas.
  • Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) has antispasmodic properties. It is helpful for anxiety, insomnia and menopausal symptoms.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) soothes and nourishes the nervous system, can help treat depression.
  • Motherwort (leonurus cardiaca) is helpful for painful menstruation. It promotes blood circulation, menstrual disorders and menopausal symptoms. It is also useful for headache, insomnia and vertigo.
  • Red Clover (trifolium pretense) is used as an antispasmodic and for its relaxing effects. It also can relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • Red Raspberry (rubus idaeus) is used to ease uterine and intestinal cramping, and reduce menstrual bleeding. It can also be used for hot flashes.
  • Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) is helpful for menstrual cramps and can help calm the nervous system.
  • Wild Yam (dioscorea villosa) contains compounds similar to progesterone and may be effective in alleviating symptoms of PMS such as cramps, headache, mood swings, depression, irritability and insomnia. It is also useful for menopausal symptoms.

These were just some of the herbs that can be used in the treatment of female disorders. At times it may be appropriate to combine the herbs and make an herbal infusion.

Many of these herbs have properties not listed. Some of these herbs are contraindicated for certain age groups, medical conditions or when taken with certain medications. Remember that some of these herbs will take four to six weeks to integrate into the body as they are hormone-based. Please take time to do research prior to taking any herb or combination of herbs and use caution while taking herbs. Even though herbs come from nature does not mean they are always right for every individual or every situation. You also may want to consult your health care practitioner prior to taking any herbs. Remember to make time to take care of yourself, for you are the best person for the job.