Women’s health is a subject that I hold very close to my heart. Starting birth control at sixteen, I experienced side effects of decreased sex drive, random bouts of anger, sadness, and irrationality for years. Looking back, I am saddened by the lack of information given to me as a young woman trying to navigate hormones, bleeding, menstrual pain and the emotions that come along with it all.
At the age of 22, I was in a situation where I felt comfortable enough about my future, with the partner that I was with, that I decided to stop taking contraceptives and learn how to regulate my body without medication. I began to learn about essential oils, energy work and diet which gave me a small amount of relief with my debilitating menstrual cramps and emotions, but it was not until I began learning about my herbal allies, the history of red tent ceremonies, and the connection to the moon cycle that I truly started to understand my body and spirit. These lessons opened my eyes to the true magic of being an intuitive woman and nurtured those qualities within me. The more I learned about truly honoring myself and the phases I was going through, the easier it became to navigate in modern society while still being so connected and loving to myself.
I am so thankful to Kathleen Wildwood, founder of The Wildwood Institute, and Susan Weed who shares so much wisdom and knowledge through her writings. I have learned so much over the past seven years and it is my dream to be able to continue spreading this information. I hope to help shape a new world where we embrace womanhood for the beauty that it is,as our ancestors did, and utilize the medicine that grows all around us to assist in this journey.
So with that, my four favorite herbs for women’s health.
Nettles (shown above) are one of my favorite herbs because they contain so many minerals that our body needs to function. In doing so, it helps to build our blood, strengthen blood vessels, and prevent bone and tooth loss. Women especially need to focus on consuming nutrients in times when we are losing so many during menstruation, pregnancy, and postpartum. Nettles have been known to stabilize hormone levels, reduce mood swings, and clear the chakras and energy meridians. This plant has been consumed to reduce pain during and post childbirth and to increase feelings of self love.
Red clover (shown above) is one of my primary herbs to include in my long infusions and not only because it is delicious. Its high mineral content has made it known as the “The Herb of Immortality”; used to prevent cancer, strokes, anxiety, and bone loss. Susan Weed states that drinking a weekly quart of red clover long infusions will help prevent and reverse hormonal cancers such as breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. That is amazing! It is fertility promoting and high in B vitamins which aids in preventing yeast infections. Red clover is truly a gift. The photo at the top of the page is an herbal long infusion of red clover, nettles, and oatstraw. The beautiful orange liquid near the bottom is an herbal long infusion (after being infused and strained) of nettle and red clover.
Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree, is a uterine and reproductive tonic, meaning that it helps strengthen and support these body systems. Used to ease endometriosis, PCOS, abnormal menstrual cycles, menopausal symptoms, vaginal dryness, acne and fibroids. Vitex berry has shown great results for those trying to conceive children because of its effects on the hormonal system as a whole. Regular use has been seen to trigger ovulation even in older women. This herb is slow acting but results are generally seen after two or three months of use.
Motherwort is a strong ally for those in their menstruating years. A tincture of the fresh flowering tops is used to reduce period cramps, PMS, anxiety, depression and hot flashes. Women (and men) who have experienced trauma in their lives can benefit greatly from motherwort, as the tincture has been used to stop panic attacks quickly and overall reduce the risk of hypertension. This tincture is effective and should be avoided if you experience heavy periods or menstrual flooding.
Herbs, while incredibly beneficial, are only one part of this beautiful puzzle. Understanding the hormonal and energetic changes in our bodies at different times in our cycle is the foundation to understanding ourselves. We must rest when we are tired, make space for creativity and spirituality, work hard when we are driven and always remember to nourish our bodies. Knowledge is power and I would personally love to see how different this world would be if every woman harnessed her power.
This is part three in a series written by friend, farmer and herbalist Stephanie Mullis of Holistic Medicinals. Interested in her first post and journey into herbs? Check out our introduction to her series.