When it comes to menstrual health, herbs can be very effective healers. But herbs for menstrual health can also be dangerous, or toxic to the liver, if taken incorrectly. Today I want to introduce you to 69 herbs that help with a whole range of menstrual disorders.
You can take herbs for menstrual cramps, or to bring on a late period. Certain herbs can stop heavy flow, while others have properties that will relieve back pain, or mood swings. Herbs for menstrual health have the power and potency to work subtly. Herbal teas and tinctures can even rectify hormonal imbalances and ease the symptoms associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Premenstrual tension (PMT) and PMS are interchangeable.
I’m also going to go through the causes of these disorders and what the symptoms are. Before embarking on any treatment, herbal or otherwise, you must get a proper diagnosis. Visit a medical doctor, a natural health practitioner, a functional medicine doctor, an Ayurvedic practitioner, or a herbalist. Once you have a diagnosis, you can decide whether to take the herbal route or the allopathic one.
Let’s get started!
What Are The Most Common Menstrual Disorders Women Experience? And What Causes Them?
In order to treat menstrual problems with herbs we have to look at what is causing the problem.
There are three main menstrual disorders:
- light or absent flow,
- heavy, excessive flow (with or without clotting),
- and painful menstruation (includes back pain and cramping)
These are the medical terms for each of these conditions:
- Oligomenorrhea – Irregular or light flow
- Amenorrhea – Complete absence of menses
- Menorrhea – Heavy, excessive, or prolonged bleeding
- Dysmenorrhea – painful menstruation
The reasons for each of these conditions vary. Often the cause of the problem first leads to a hormonal imbalance. Eventually, if the imbalance is not rectified, your periods will be affected in some way.
If we pay attention our bodies will guide us in healing. It’s interesting to me that, despite our bodies giving us all these signals, we seldom act until it’s too late. And a visit to the doctor usually results in prescribed medication that, in the long run, covers up the underlying causes. But sometimes we need to go the allopathic route before we can take the herbal one. And sometimes taking a natural course of healing will be more beneficial. Trust your gut and don’t get pressured into taking the first option offered, just because someone has letters behind their name.
Possible Reasons for Heavy Flow
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Possible Reasons for Light or Irregular Flow
Possible Reasons for Absence of Menses
- Anorexia or low body weight
- Excessive exercise
- Birth Control, especially the IUD implants, like Marinara
Possible Reasons for Painful Periods
- Natural causes
If you experience cramping just before your period starts, or during, it could be the body’s natural action caused by prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are fatty acids that are found in most tissues, they act like hormones, but aren’t. In the case of menstruation, prostaglandins will be produced by tissues in and around the uterus. They are responsible for creating uterine stimulation. This will then cause your period to start. Often drinking herbal teas that are uterine stimulants will bring on a late period. And if cramping is painful there are many herbal teas that bring relief.
Herbs for menstrual health disorders of this kind are very effective because it’s a natural occurrence and means you don’t have a more serious underlying condition. If the pain is so severe that you can’t function, then there is obviously some other reason, and you should get checked out.
How Do I Find The Underlying Cause Of My Menstrual Health Disorder?
Before you start treating yourself with herbs for menstrual health you must find the cause. Once you know why you have a certain problem then treating it with the correct herbs will be easier. Before you spend money on blood tests and visits to the doctor, try to eliminate the most obvious reasons that could be causing your specific menstrual disorder.
Questions You Must Ask Before Taking Herbs For Menstrual Health Disorders
1. Am I Stressed?
Stress is a very sneaky killer. We have stress hormones that regulate our fight or flight responses. The main two are cortisol and adrenaline. If we experience stress our body goes into “fight or flight” mode. In this condition we cannot digest food properly and all other hormonal responses and activities will be hindered. We need hormonal balance for our bodies to function properly.
Stress can take on many forms. It can be physical, mental, and emotional. But the body responds to all stresses in the same way. Worry is stress. Working under pressure is stress. Too much exercise is stress. Wrong eating is stress. So if you have stress (and we all do) you must address it.
2. Am I Eating Properly?
Our gut health is extremely important, in the bigger scheme of things. Healthy gut bacteria ensures digestion takes place properly. If we take medication, if we eat processed foods, and if we eat when stressed we create problems for our gut. If our bodies can’t absorb nutrients properly then even healthy food loses its optimal impact. It is a big ask to be healthy and stress free in today’s world. But adding herbal teas to our daily lives goes a long way in keeping minor issues at bay.
We can take herbs for stress and to improve digestion. This simple addition to our diet will go along way in keeping our hormones in check and our menstrual cycle regular and/or less painful.
Get A Professional Diagnosis Before You Take Herbs for Menstrual Health
If you feel stress, and diet is not the issue, then you need to search deeper. This can be done by:
- Getting blood tests: Sometimes the problem will be an iron deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, or a blood clotting issue. If it is one of these reasons herbal remedies can be very effective.
- Getting a pap smear: A pap smear must be performed by a doctor. Cells will be taken from the cervix and tested for infection, inflammation, cancer, or other abnormalities.
- Endometrial biopsy: This is an ultra sound procedure to see if there are problems in the uterus.
All these procedures are costly if you are not covered by health insurance. If you are a person that prefers natural remedies then consulting a Functional Medicine doctor, a herbalist, an Ayurvedic practitioner, or a Naturopathic doctor may be a better option.
And now we get to the fun stuff!
Let’s check out the healing herbs we can to take for menstrual health.
Emmenagogues: Herbs for Menstrual Health
- Emmenagogues are herbs that promote menses and increase flow.
- Emmenagogues can be warming, cooling, or stimulating (used as a tonic).
- Warming emmenagogues are taken for conditions like dysmenorrhea and amenorrhea. They also help with anxiety, cramps, and pain.
- Cooling emmenagogues help for hormonal symptoms that cause outbursts of rage. (my words)
- Tonic emmenagogues build blood and promote sexual function.
16 Herbs considered to be emmenagogic are:
- Tang kuei, angelica, ginger, cinnamon, valerian, red raspberry. (warming)
- Blessed thistle, chamomile flowers, chrysanthemum flowers, rose petals, squawvine. (cooling)
- Licorice, false unicorn, wild yam root, jasmine, peony root. (tonic)
Warning: Never take emmenagogic herbs when pregnant.
Anti-Stress Herbs for Menstrual Health
These herbs are easy to grow and readily available. Take them as herbal teas. Adding lemon and raw honey to herbal teas improves the taste and adds to the healing benefits. It’s totally optional. I prefer not to add honey and lemon though. I think the taste of the herb on the tongue strengthens the connectivity between us and the healing properties the herb offers.
- Basil, ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, jasmine, lavender.
22 Herbs that ease menopausal symptoms and other ailments associated with menses.
Woman experience perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause over periods of up to 15 years! If you eat correctly, stay reasonably fit, and supplement your diet with herbal teas, these autumn years do not need to be looked upon with dread!
Common menopausal symptoms include night sweats, hot flushes, mood swings, and irregular periods.
The following herbs for menopausal symptoms get used by traditional healers from all around the world.
- Bauhinia variegata (camel’s foot/orchid tree). Tea from dried flowers. Tea from bark root extract.
- Chaste tree(chasteberry) (Vitex agnus-castus)
- Cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens)
- Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)
- Grapevine (Vitis vinifera)
- Hops (Humulus lupulus)
These herbs have been used to treat various symptoms like menstrual cramping, bloating and irritability:
- Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
- Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum)
- Deadnettle (Lamium album)
- Madagascar periwinkle (Do not self medicate with this herb. It is toxic to the liver if taken incorrectly)
- Red hibiscus
- Silver cane berry
For excessive bleeding:
- Asthma tree (Adhatoda vasica)
- Guava leaves
- Prunella (Prunella vulgaris)
For scanty/light periods
- Akebia (Akebia quinata)
- Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)
More Herbs for Menstrual Health
Herbs are rich in minerals. These nutritive phytochemicals work synergistically with the non-nutritive compounds in the plant. It is also why you cannot compare supplements and synthetic substitutes with the real thing. During menses our bodies are not only shedding the lining that would have been the “soil” for a new baby, but it’s also giving our bodies the added advantage of cleaning out toxins. The downside is that enriching minerals also get lost. So drinking herbal teas during this time replenishes any lost vital nutrients.
In addition to the 40 herbs for menstrual health, mentioned above, the following 19 herbs also have properties that bring relief from the discomfort, pain, and angst we experience during our monthly menses. I’ve added some of the botanical names, in brackets, for those of you who wish to do some more research on these amazing, astonishing awesome plants that we are so privileged to have at our disposal.
- Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
- Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia)
- Blueberry (Vaccinum species)
- Blue Cohosh
- Hemp (Cannabis sattiva/indica)
- Indian Paintbrush
- Lemon grass (which is different to citronella grass)
- Lemon verbena
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
- Saffron (Crocus sativus)
- Sassafras (toxic to the liver)
- Tansy (toxic to the liver and brain) Today we have better options than Tansy.
- Solomon Seal (Polygonatum species) Use internally under strict supervision. Better suited for external use.
- Golden ragwort
Herbs for Fibroids
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that can cause excessive bleeding during menses. The exact cause is not established but it’s more than likely linked to estrogen imbalances. Herbs that cleanse the liver may assist in ridding the body of excess estrogen. Other herbs like Bauhinia may help shrink the growths, and the resveratrol (antioxidant ) found in berries and red grapes, may inhibit cell growth of the tumors. Often they disappear on their own. Herbs for fibroids include:
- Bauhinia variegata (Ayurvedic remedy)
- Milk Thistle (can be toxic to liver if taken in excess)
- Dandelion (Use roots as tea and leaves for mineral and nutrient boost)
- Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)
- Cotton (tea from bark extract of a year old root)
- Dong Quai (also called Tang Kuei) Chinese remedy
I’ve singled out the following 5 herbs that are really special, especially in the treatment of menstrual health issues. They do far more than what I mention here. I have focused on the topic only. Most the info came from Margaret Robert’s book titled “100 New Herbs”. It was published in 2015, two years before she died, at the ripe old age of 80. Margaret Roberts is arguably one of the world’s leading experts on herbs. My passion for herbs and medicinal plants was definitely ignited by this extraordinary herbalist. The other lady who influenced my love of plants was my beloved Nanna, who passed away 30 years ago.
1. Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
Bergamot is also known as Oswega tea. It was used by the Chippewa, Cherokee, Fox, and Ojiba Indians. Bergamot tea became fashionable after the Boston Tea Party. In revolt, over taxes, English tea was thrown overboard, thus heralding in the use of Oswega tea instead.
Bergamot for menstrual health:
Bergamot is a sedative and a relaxant. It eases cramps, spasms, and muscle aches. It will work on menstrual cramps and relieve stress, both mental and physical. It also allows one to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important. While we sleep the body gets to work on many things, including hormonal activity. Throwing out the circadian rhythm leads to hormonal stress.
2. Bitter Melon for Menstrual Health (Momordica charantia)
Bitter melon is an emmenagogic. It also as diuretic properties. It is an effective herb for cleansing and detoxing. It is also called bitter gourd or karela. This ancient vine is still used today in Ayurvedic remedies. It is easy to grow and has the appearance of a warty, spiny cucumber, with pointed ends on both sides. It turns orange when ripe and has beautiful red kidney shaped seeds. It is available as a fruit, in powder form, or as drops.
It is an excellent fruit to use in cooking, but should be taken medically, under supervision.
Besides being used to bring on menses, it is used:
- as a laxative,
- to kill parasites and clear intestinal worms,
- to treat jaundice,
- to lower high fevers,
- as a liver, kidney, and bladder cleanser.
Medical research shows that bitter gourd contains a peptide and glycosides, charatin and momordin, that acts like insulin. It has been, and still gets, used to treat late-onset diabetes.
3. Raspberries for Menstrual Health (Rubus idaeus)
Raspberry leaves are excellent herbs for menstrual health. Raspberry leaf tea will:
- ease menstrual cramping,
- help regulate periods,
- increase flow or reduce heavy periods
- bring relief from hot flushes in menopausal women
- act as a uterine stimulant
4. Camel’s Foot or Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata)
This tree is known as “a woman’s herb”. It’s use in Ayurvedic medicine is well known. In India, women collect basketfuls of the flowers, in spring. Bauhinia bark is used to regulate menstrual flow. It is taken as a tea to treat menopausal symptoms.
5. Epazote/Mexican Tea (Dysphania ambrosioides)
Tea is made from the leaves and flowers of this Mexican annual. It promotes menstruation and eases tension, cramps, and backaches associated with menstruation.
Old-Fashioned Herbal Remedies:
The following herbal remedies are taken from Mother Nature’s Herbal by Judy Griffin(Ph.D.). She got them from a book written in 1899! That book was titled Dr. Chase’s Recipe Book and Household Physician.
There are another 8 herbs mentioned, for the first time, in this last section, bringing the total of herbs for menstrual health to a whopping 69! (There are probably hundreds more!)
Heavy Menses (with clotting)
Drink a herbal tea of either pennyroyal, catnip, sage, or the leaves of the spruce pine. Drink these teas until the discharge is fully established (which means until the clotting is no longer present. Avoid alcohol (spiritous liquors) and keep the bowel open. Note: Pennyroyal tea may be toxic to some individuals.
Apply a hot poultice of hops, tansy, or boneset.
Night Sweats (symptom of menopause)
Make sage tea, let it cool. Drink during the day instead of water. The following remedies are also from Judy’s book.
Delayed Menses Tonic
2 tbs black cohosh
2 tbs wild yam root
2 tbs parsley root
2 tbs chamomile flowers
2 tbs lemon balm leaves
Simmer the cohosh, parsley root, and wild yam for 20 min, in 2 cups water.
Remove from heat, add chamomile and lemon balm. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1-3 cups daily until menses begins.
Herbs taken for various menstrual disorders:
Aniseed: 1tsp crushed seeds in 1 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, drink as it cools. Increases flow.
Carrot root and tops eaten cooked. Increases flow
Chamomile: 1 tsp flowers steeped for 5 minutes in 1 cup water. Promotes menses
Find Herbal Teas for Menstrual Health Online
Here is a short list of herbal teas that you can buy online:
Traditional Medicinal Healthy Cycle (formerly Female Toner) – A lovely blend of emmenagogic herbs, including raspberry leaf, blessed thistle, and cramp bark.
Until next time…
I hope you’ve found enjoyed reading my short introduction to “Herbs for Menstrual Health”. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
with love from kim