Sunday, 1 June 2008

Herbs for female balance

I mentioned in my post about Herbs for painful periods that I wanted to find a generally balancing and nourishing tea for the whole female cycle. Here's my research so far!

The following seem to come up a lot as being important herbs for a healthy female cycle:
  • Dong quai (angelica sinensi) is described in Bartram's Encyclopaedia as "the most popular 'female' herb in the East". The dried root is used for amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, menopause, and cramps.
  • Chaste tree (vitex agnus castus) is said to help with a variety of conditions including pre-menstrual symptoms, amenorrhea, and menopause - it is known to have a "normalising" effect on the female hormones. Both the leaves and berries are used. It goes back a long way (as well as going up a long way - about 22 feet) and apparently featured in Homer's Illiad capable of warding off evil. Despite it's name, it seems to have a split personality with the leaves reducing sexual desire and the berries being aphrodisiac. I haven't tested this theory, LOL! I saw this herb for the first time on my visit to Wisley, but it wasn't in flower like the one in this photo from Flickr.
  • Raspberry leaves (rubus idaeus) are recommended for pain or excessive bleeding during menstruation, to tone the uterine muscles in the last 2 months of pregnancy as well as alleviating sickness and nausea, and to promote milk production.
  • Motherwort (leonurus cardiaca) is said to help with absent or painful menstruation as well as pre-menstrual tension and menopausal flushes. In Bartam's Encyclopaedia one suggestion is to combine it in equal parts with black cohosh and cramp bark. It is also said to combine well with vervain. It is also used for angina. 
The following herbs seem to come up a lot as supporting herbs to mix with the above:
  • Dandelion
  • Nettle
  • Lemon balm
  • Rosehip
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
Here are some tea formulas I've come across on the internet or in books:
1. Dong quai, nettle, dandelion root, juniper berry
2. Dandelion leaf, nettle, rosehip, agnus castus, red clover flowers
3. Dandelion root, oatstraw, chamomile, raspberry leaf, rosehip, ginger root
4. On Henriette's Herbal there is suggestion of raspberry leaf tea, with lemon balm or peppermint for flavour, and valerian if you have time to rest as well.

As for tinctures I'm trying out cramp bark, and I've also seen the following suggestions:
1. Passionflower and valerian
2. Motherwort

I also came across a suggestion for a herbal bath for menstruation consisting of 1/2 cup each of lavender, rose, chamomile and hops - brought to the boil then left to stand for 15 minutes then poured into the bath. I wonder about using a herbal decoction along these lines the next time I make foam bath! :-)

Pictures from Flickr with thanks to Flower85 and Kenbalkow.

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