Women’s Health Herbal Remedies
Whilst herbs generally help improve the health of both men and women, there are a range of herbs that can specifically relieve problems associated with menstruation, fertility, vaginal infections, pregnancy and menopausal symptoms. As with the use of all herbs, always consult an herbal practitioner for persistent or severe conditions. The use of herbs during pregnancy is particularly important and should as a general rule NOT be taken in therapeutic doses unless prescribed by an herbal practitioner.
The following herbs are only a selection of the many herbs that can be used to treat female health issues.
Chamomile - A multi purpose herb, that can help calm the digestive system to ease the symptoms of morning sickness. An infusion can help lessen period pains when drunk as a tea ,as well as when cooled used externally to ease vaginal irritation.
Chinese Angelica - also known as Dong Quai, a key traditional Chinese herb for treating conditions of the female reproductive system. Chinese Angelica is used to treat infertility, regulate periods and improve libido and general vitality.
Evening Primrose – rich in essential oils that can help regulate the hormone balance of the body, by controlling the production of prostaglandins which are believed to be responsible for a whole range of PMS symptoms. At least 500mg twice a day is recommended to relieve symptoms,
Lady’s Mantle – another multipurpose herb that if taken internally can regulate excessive or irregular menstruation. Taken externally can ease vaginal itching. ( This is not the Lady’s Mantle – Alchemilla mollis found in grardens)
Marigold – also known as Calendula , it is known for its healing properties; the macerated oil can be massaged into the skin to help prevent stretch marks. Calendula if often combined with St John’s Wort and a combined tincture diluted in a bath can speed the healing of any stitches after childbirth and ease sore nipples in nursing mothers.
Raspberry Leaf – given to pregnant women in the last three months of pregnancy ( must not be taken in early pregnancy) as a uterine tonic to help the body prepare for labour. It is also useful after childbirth to promote breastmilk. As a general uterine tonic it can help relieve heavy or painful periods.
Sage - perhaps one of the best known herbs for reducing ‘hot flushes’ and noight time sweats, that can often accompany the menopause
Schisandra - best taken as a tincture, it is used by both men and women as a tonic to improve sexual energy. Another herb that can help reduce night sweats and one that Chinese women believe improves their complexions.
St John’s Wort – one of the best herbs to relieve the stress arising from PMS symptoms and the often emotional anxieties associated with the menopause
Vitex Agnus-castus – a hormone regulator used internally for menstrual and menopausal complaints, as well as infertility problems.
LIST OF HERBS TO AVOID IN PREGNANCY
Achillea millefolium – Yarrow
Acteae racemosa – Black Cohosh
Agastache rugosa – Purple Giant Hyssop
Aloe Vera – Aloe vera
Angelica archangelica – Angelica Root
Apium graveolens – Celery Seed
Aralia racemosa – American Spikenard
Arctostaphlos uva-ursi - Bearberry
Artemisia absinthium – Wormwood
Borago officinalis – Borage
Calendula officinalis - Marigold
Curcuma longa – Turmeric
Cymbopogon citratus - Lemongras
Eupatorium purpureum – Gravel Root
Filipendula ulmaria - Meadowsweet
Glycyrrhiza glabra – Liquorice Root
Hydrastis canadensis – Golden Seal
Hypericum perforatum – St John’s wort
Hyssop officinalis – Hyssop
Inula helenium – Elecampane
Juniperus communis – Juniper
Leonurus cardiac – Motherwort
Levisticum officinale – Lovage
Lycium barbarum – Goji
Nepeta cataria – Catmint
Panax japonicus – Japanese ginseng
Rosa x damascena – Damask Rose
Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary
Rumex crispus – Yellow Dock
Salix alba – White Willow
Salvia officinalis – Common Sage
Saussurea costos – Costos
Schisandra chinensis - Schisandra
Senna alexandrina –Senna
Symphytum officinale – Comfrey
Tanacetum parthenium – Feverfew
Thymus vulgaris – Common Thyme
Trifolium pratense – Red Clover
Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot
Verbena officinalis – Vervain
Viburnum opulus - Crampbark
Viscum album – Mistletoe
Vitex agnus castus – Chasteberry
Withania somnifera – Ashwaghanda
The list of herbs to avoid in pregnancy varies in different countries, in particular the USA where the American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook list a number of additional herbs to avoid. Always check with you medical practitioner before taking any herbal remedies whilst pregnant.