Lauren Zielinski is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, and the founder of a grassroots women’s health movement called New Moon Rising Events. New Moon Rising works in cities across the US to hold free, day-long workshops that foster discussion about reproductive health, political advocacy, natural medicine options, and community connections.
Hellloooo Ladies! Being a woman is the BEST in my opinion and you couldn’t pay me Beyonce’s annual salary for the rest of my life to trade places with a man. It’s no secret that those of us who have female reproductive organs deal with a handful of less than pleasant symptoms month in and month out. Instead of turning to pharmaceuticals in these moments of hormone-induced anguish, I suggest you stock up on these 5 natural herbs and supplements. They are all time and wise-women proven to remedy the common discomfort and irritability that occasionally come along with owning a uterus and vagina.
Often times we can avoid pharmaceuticals and heal directly from what the earth naturally gives us, which is amazing and always has me vibing on my inner witchy woman-ness. My personal vow when suffering from a health discomfort, (with all due respect to modern medicine), is to always try and heal naturally first, and having these remedies on hand makes it easy.
Give it a shot! But remember, every body is different, vastly complicated, and constantly changing. If something feels just not right, or you would rate your symptoms as more than a common discomfort, please seek treatment from a health provider to ensure all is well.
photo via daring gourmet
Use this for: Nausea & Vomiting or Upset Stomach
How does it work? Ginger works as an anti-spasmodic (slows down the intestinal tract) when it’s irritated and contracting—which is what causes nausea and vomiting, as well as decreases the production of gas—which helps cut that bubbly upset tummy feeling.
Take it like this: Taking a tablespoon of ginger syrup is my personal favorite. Make sure you get the kind from a health food store for stomach upset—not the kind for cocktails. It does an excellent job coating the stomach and intestines, and I notice instant relief when I have a stomach-ache. You can also drink fresh and natural ginger tea, or chew on the crystallized ginger chews. Look out for processed sugary chews—the more raw and whole, the better.
photo via gourmande
Use this for: Bloating & gas
How does it work? Similar to ginger, peppermint is also an anti-spasmodic and intestinal relaxant. It’s also good for nausea and vomiting. Peppermint works by allowing food, swallowed air, or built up gas to pass through the intestines more easily—relieving you of painful bloating and gas faster than if left alone.
Take it like this: Chew on a mint leaf (or two). Chewing on fresh mint leaves and then swallowing is a potent way to use this powerful herb. You can also drink fresh and natural peppermint tea.
photo via nola
3. Chaste Tree Berry (aka Vitex)
Use this for: Mood swings and period related irritability
How does it work? Vitex is thought to balance hormones. Some research says vitex reduces the secretion of a hormone called prolactin, and works to level out high levels of estrogen and progesterone, which go up and down during your cycle. Reducing hormonal “swings” reduces mood swings, and makes this time of the month a little easier.
Take it like this: Ingest 240 mg by mouth every day. Research shows that using vitex through three cycles (that’s 3 months) helped relieve PMS symptoms in 50% of the women studied. Using either a tincture or a capsule will do. Try vitex for at least 3 months straight before you judge how it works. Since herbs are more gentle and natural than pharmaceuticals, they can take a bit longer to produce noticeable results.
photo via allwomenstalk
4. Red Raspberry Leaf
Use this for: Menstrual cramps & heavy periods
How does it work? Red Raspberry leaf is a longtime friend of females and the uterus. It contains an alkaloid called fragrine that relaxes and tones the uterus, causing cramps to hurt less. It also contains tannins which strengthen the uterus, and help to stop any heavy or irregular bleeding.
Take it like this: Drinking red raspberry leaf tea is the most comforting and easiest way to get this herb into your system. You can use it symptomatically when you have a bad period from time to time (drink it every day of your cycle). For chronic heavy bleeding and pain, I suggest brewing a super strong batch (10-15 teabags in a large pot of water) and then cooling in a pitcher in the refrigerator. Add it to your water bottle every day of your cycle before you head out the door, so you have constant ingestion of this toning herb.
photo via primlani kitchen
Use this for: Frequent UTI’s (urinary tract infections) *Note: cranberry does not treat a UTI you already have, although it does aid in clearing an infection when used with antibiotics. DO take daily cranberry supplements if you’re a woman who suffers from frequent UTI’s, as they have been proven to prevent infection.
How does it work? Cranberry changes the way that bacteria “sticks” to your urinary tract, which is a part of what causes a UTI.
Take it like this: Because it can be hard for some people to be sure they’re drinking cranberry juice every day, I recommend taking oral cranberry supplements. You can snag these at the health food store or online. Take 800 to 1,600 mg per day by mouth. You can also drink Cranberry Juice. If you do choose this route, get the most natural and pure version you can find. Skip the “cranberry juice cocktail” as it’s often watered down and chock full of sugar. The natural juice is often in glass bottle form, and *very* tart. Drink 10-16 ounces per day.