Herbal healing for women throughout life
Women can not deny the general interest and inherent desire so many of us have that draws us towards the use of herbal remedies for everyday ailments. Our innate connection with herbs and plants in general is especially appealing to those avid gardeners, finding a sense of peace and even healing by simply being surrounded by nature. Herbal medicine has existed since the beginning of time, with many women taking the role of the family healer and passing down their knowledge through generations. Sadly this is becoming a lost art in some cultures. Western herbal medicine has become a well sought after means of alternative medicine for many women to help with various reproductive and health concerns. To help keep herbs alive in our home and hearts find below a list compiled from clinical research and experience as well as popular herbal folklore that are helpful to all women through all stages of life:
Herbs can be administered in various forms teas, tinctures, capsules or powder. Teas are generally advisable if you are self-administering, however for best results you are safest to seek help from a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist. Professional guidance will ensure you are taking the correct dosage, to check herb-drug interactions and also for more targeted treatment for your health concerns.
Pre-puberty (age 7-10)
At this stage before any physical changes take place our daughters brains will start releasing signals to prepare for puberty. During the surge of growth hormones, some girls may feel moody, emotional and short-tempered. Simple herbal remedies to support this phase include: Chamomile - calming for a hot temper and for a nervous tummy, Licorice - children that worry and have slow bowel movements, Bacopa - difficulty concentrating, poor behaviour, Lemon balm - anxiety and sleep onset issues.
Puberty (age 10-14)
During this stage hormones are surging influencing the development of reproductive organs as well as pubic hair. With this growth surge the skin becomes more oily, with an increase of acne also developing. Although herbal medicine is fabulous for hormonal balancing, it’s important not to use anything to disrupt this delicate phase, but rather support the general health of the pubescent teen. Such herbs include: Rooibos tea - teens sensitive to stress and poor immune, Tulsi - for the sweet tooth, comfort eater, Passionflower - anxious, difficulty with sleep onset, Dandelion root- irritability and slow bowel movements, Bacopa - difficulty concentrating, short-tempered, Chamomile - worrier, nervous tummy, Rosehip - acne and immune support.
Menarche - Womanhood
Young ladies under 18 years are still best to avoid the use of hormone-modulating herbs, due to allowing their bodies naturally adjust and mature. The above herbs are suitable for any emotional or physical issues. For women over 18 years of age the following herbs are beneficial: Chaste Tree - hormone modulating and mood enhancing, Raspberry leaf - for cramps, uterine health, Withania - blood building, anxiety, hypothyroidism (warning: best prescribed by a professional), Lemon Balm - antiviral (herpes), anxiety, hyperthyroidism, Shatavari - libido, hormone balancing, Schisandra - liver nourishing, stress support, Dandelion root- slow bowel motility, liver support, Nettle - blood building, nourishing, St John’s Wort - depression, irritability, pms (best prescribed by a professional).
Pregnancy - Motherhood
The use of herbal medicine in pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding has many restrictions and it is always safest to seek professional guidance. General herbs that are consider safe are: Chamomile - calming, gut nourishing, Ginger - morning sickness, nausea, Echinacea - immune and stress support, Dandelion root - slow bowel motility, Shatavari - stress support, Nettle - blood building, nourishing. Raspberry leaf is best taken from the third trimester with professional guidance and is brilliant post-birth as a uterine tonic. For motherhood and breast-feeding: Shatavari - hormonal and stress support, Dandelion root - gut healing, for slow bowel motility, St Mary’s thistle - hormonal and liver support, Turmeric - pain and inflammation, Passionflower - relaxation and sleep onset help.
Peri-menopause - Menopause
The peri-menopause phase women find themselves with irregular menstrual cycles, and the beginning of hormonal surges that influence hot flashes, fatigue and stress sensitivity. During menopause (and also peri-menopause) women may feel more irritable, depressed (low mood), experience insomnia leading to fatigue and moodiness. The following herbs are nourishing and nurturing for this phase: Zizyphus - hot flashes, sleep onset, Shatavari - libido, hormone modulating, Sage - hot flashes and night sweats, Ginkgo - memory, cardiovascular health, Lavender - depression, sleep onset, Chaste Tree - menorrhagia (heavy bleeding), hormone regulation, mood lifting, Wild Yam - vaginal dryness, hormonal modulating (best prescribed by a practitioner), Lady’s mantle - menorrhagia, night sweats, anxiety, Nettle - blood building, anxiety.
Post-menopausal - Elderly women
Considered the golden years, a time to embrace retirement or an empty nest, it’s time to really care for yourself mind, body and spirit the following herbs are nourishing to help the ageing process: Ginkgo - brain and cardiovascular health, Garlic - gut restorative, cardiovascular health, Turmeric - pain, inflammation, depression, Bacopa - memory, learning, calming, Horsetail - tissue health including hair, skin, nails and bladder, Cinnamon - circulation, stabilises blood sugar, Dandelion leaf - kidney health, Dandelion root - gut and liver health, St Mary’s Thistle - liver restorative, Echinacea - stamina and immune support, Siberian ginseng - stress support, adrenal nourishing.
Special consideration is needed with professional guidance if you are taking pharmaceutical medication or if you have a medical condition.
There are many beautiful books, websites and resources that offer further information on growing and using herbs for health and healing in your day to day life, have fun exploring!
Love and light,
Jaunita May ~ Your Family Naturopath
Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, Aviva Romm MD
The Women's Herbal Apothecary, JJ Pursell
The Complete Woman's Herbal, Anne McIntyre