By this point you are aware of how important hormone balance is in our bodies, if you are not, check out these blogs before continuing.
- What are “Female” Hormones?
- How to Know When Your Hormones are Outta Whack
Now that we have a basic idea of what hormones are and how they get out of balance, let’s look at how to get them back in order. You know me, I’m all about the solution and not dwelling on the problem.
As you probably know there are three phases of a female’s life cycle: The Maiden, The Mother and The Matriarch (or Crone, but I hate that term so I use Matriarch). The first step to balancing hormones is by honoring the cycle that you are in. Here is a brief description of these cycles:
- The Maiden represents enchantment, inception, expansion, the promise of new beginnings, birth, youth and youthful enthusiasm, represented by the waxing moon;
- The Mother represents ripeness, fertility, sexuality, fulfillment, stability, power and life represented by the full moon;
- The Matriarch represents wisdom, repose, death, and endings represented by the waning moon.
There are many herbal remedies that nourish and support the female reproductive system in all the cycles of life: Maiden, Mother, and Matriarch. Since the beginning of time women have always reached instinctively for natural remedies to support their overall health and hormone balance. It is only within the past few hundred years that we have gotten away from our natural roots and began to rely on modern “medicine”. I use that term lightly because I don’t even see it as medicine, but rather a system that focuses on band aiding the symptoms and not treating the whole person. This leads to a myriad of other symptoms, check out a commercial for prescriptions, have you seen even 1 without side effects? I haven’t and generally the side effect symptoms are worse than the initial symptoms. That being said, click here to read The Full Medical Disclaimer.
I do believe highly in Nature’s Medicine. Our bodies are made of the same elements as nature and it is through Nature’s Medicine that we will heal ourselves. There are many wonderful herbs, foods and elements that can help us maintain homeostasis and specifically hormone balance in each life cycle phase. This blog will focus mainly on herbs to help balance the female hormones. I will first go over which are good for females of all ages, then I will break down the ones that are best for the Maiden, Mother and Matriarch.
All Life Cycle Phases:
Alfalfa sprouts are a staple of salads and contain nutrients, but the leaves hold the best healing potential and contain phytoestrogens that are beneficial in menopausal and breast feeding women. Sprouts in general are a great way to maintain balance without putting undue stress on your digestive system.
Note: It is always best to purchase Organic Alfalfa since it is one of the more highly GMO crops.
Asparagus racemosus known in India as Shatavari, has been a treatment for infertility and lack of libido in women for thousands of years, and is regarded as one of the most important herbal tonics for women. In India, it is often boiled with milk and consumed.
Note: They cherish their cows in India, we don’t here. I don’t recommend use of milk unless it is raw and even then, in limited amounts.
Clary sage oil has a special affinity with the female system in general and is recommended for women who are experiencing hot flashes, pain and tension associated with menopause, menstrual problems and PMS. It is also relaxing, soothing and tends to be earthy and grounding.
Note: Do not use during early pregnancy as it can cause miscarriage.
Red Raspberry Leaf is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and B, C & E vitamins which are helpful for immune properties & energy. It also provides ample blood flow to the pelvic area. (I will get more into this herb in the Mother Phase however it is great for all cycles.)
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THE MAIDEN PHASE:
Burdock (root) and Dandelion (root) are a great pair as liver cleansers and the burdock helps greatly with teenage acne. Teas of these two roots are excellent with a little bit of honey to sweeten.
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Milk Thistle will help with adolescent surges and the emotional roller-coaster.
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Pau d’arco from South America is rich in calcium and has positive effects on a growing endocrine system.
Siberian ginsing is a major endocrine gland tonics and have properties similar to the adrenal cortical hormone, this is great for exhausted teenagers. It also supports the liver and bloodstream.
Wild Yams beneficially effect the adrenals, digestive system, liver and endocrine system.
THE MOTHER PHASE:
Avena Sativa better known as oats are an alleviator of menstrual cramps. It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system. Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for both females & males.
Dong quai and wild yams (not to be mistaken for sweet potatoes), along with other estrogenic herbs can be used in combination to treat menstrual difficulties and other conditions where a woman’s hormones need to be brought back into balance.
Note: Dong quai is not to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Galactagogues are those herbs that establish and promote the flow of mother’s milk. They often have high calcium contents and vary in taste. Below are a few examples of Galactagogues:
- Anise Seed
- Black Seed Oil
- Blessed Thistle
- Borage Seed Oil
- Caraway Seed
- Castor Oil
- Chaste Tree
- Dandelion Root
- Fennel Seed
- Goat’s Rue
- Jasmine Oil (not to be used during pregnancy)
- Milk Thistle Seed
- Tribulus terrestris
Red Raspberry Leaf is a must for anyone trying to conceive as it clears toxins that can prevent pregnancy. It also strengthens uterine walls making implantation easier reducing the risk of early miscarriage. While pregnant Red Raspberry Leaf will continue to strengthen, and tone the uterus. Trick is finding the right balance for your body, if you drink too much you can throw yourself into early labor. I drank 1-2 cups daily until about Week 36 when I increased to 4-5 cups daily. This worked well for my body however all bodies while similar are different. I was lucky enough to have a healthy baby boy in under 1.5 hours. I believe this was because the Red Raspberry Leaf had allowed me to dilate over time instead of all at once. Just listen to your body and if you feel anything more than slight creamping, be sure to cut back on consumption.
Note: Always consult with a licensed herbalist before taking any herbs during pregnancy.
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THE MATRIARCH PHASE:
Ashwagandha has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, which disrupts endocrine function and prompts premature aging. It stimulates blood flow to a woman’s reproductive organs and also helps to produce positive effects on hot flashes, anxiety and depression.
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Avena Sativa better known as oats are known as a libido enhancer and alleviator of menstrual cramps. It increases blood flow and stimulates the central nervous system. Avena Sativa is also thought to free bound testosterone, an essential hormone for sexual desire in both genders.
Black cohosh contains numerous chemical constituents, among them isoflavones which mimic hormonal activity. This makes this herb useful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and even the depression sometimes associated with menopause.
Note: This is never to be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding
Catuaba bark has been used by the Tupi Indians of Brazil for thousands of years. It stimulates the central nervous system, thereby providing energy and a more positive mood. It is also known to be an aphrodisiac.
Epimedium better known as Horny Goat Weed, it not only encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs but also has menopause symptom relieving effects.
Maca (root) also known as Peruvian Ginseng, has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of the Andes, to treat infertility, sexual dysfunction, hot flashes, sleep disruption and night sweats associated with menopause.
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Muria Puama this little known herbal gem calms the nerves, relieves anxiety and also increases blood flow to the pelvic area.
Red Clover greatly benefits the body’s arterial strength and flexibility while helping to relive menopausal symptoms. It also helps to maintain bone strength.
Shilajit revered in both traditional Indian and Chinese medicine is used as a tonic, which aids in physical energy, mood enhancement and sexual drive.
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Suma known as South American Ginsing, is commonly used to improve the mood, stimulate sexual desire and encourage overall reproductive health.
Tongkat Ali used in Malaysia by women to stimulate libido, increase sensitivity to erogenous zones, supports energy levels, cognitive function and creates positive responses to stress.
Tribulus terrestis stimulates androgen receptors in the brain and encourages the body to use hormones more efficiently.
Now that you have this information you can start honoring the stage you are in by doing research on the herbs in the correct category. Some herbs may have contraindications with certain medicines, so be sure to check with your physician before beginning any new herbs or adding to your current.
In this section, we covered the different phases of a woman’s life cycle as well as herbs to help with each of those cycles. Next we will focus on how to balance your hormones through diet adjustments and lifestyle changes.