Wednesday, June 3, 2009

12 Best Herbs for Women's Health: Cure Bloating and Acne, Naturally

Article by
Stephanie Rogers
Image : Shawn Allen Flikr

Cramps, bloating, irregular cycles, stress, hot flashes, headaches, poor circulation. There is a veritable laundry list of symptoms that women will experience throughout their lifetimes, from the onset of menstruation as a preteen to the years after menopause. But, you don’t have to just accept these ailments as a fact of life.

A range of herbal remedies tailored to the different phases in a woman’s life can help ease menstrual difficulties, promote fertility, lessen the side effects of menopause and keep our hearts and bones strong – and some of them may already be growing in your own back yard. As always, talk to your health care provider before beginning any herbal treatment.


During the teen years and well into adulthood, menstruation is frequently accompanied by cramps, bloating and breakouts – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dandelion helps eliminate excess water weight associated with PMS and relieves that uncomfortable balloon feeling. It contains lots of potassium, and many natural health practitioners believe that its detoxifying effects on the liver can help treat the root of the bloating rather than just masking symptoms. Drink a cup of dandelion tea 2-3 times daily or as needed.

Cramp Bark is a smooth muscle relaxant that specifically targets the pelvic area, so it soothes cramps by relaxing muscle tension and spasms. It seems to be processed most quickly in tincture form; take 2-3 droppersful in water until symptoms subside.

Calendula a pretty orange flower that reduces inflammation, gently kills germs and helps the skin heal, so it’s great for treating breakouts. Look for natural skin care products containing calendula, or make a toner yourself by steeping one teaspoon of the dried flower petals in a cup of boiling water for fifteen minutes. Strain and store in a jar; it keeps for about a week.


Throughout the childbearing years, herbal treatment for women’s health issues primarily focus on fertility. Even if you don’t plan to have children, these herbs can help regulate your cycles and keep your reproductive system healthy.

Red Clover is the single most useful herb for establishing fertility, according to master herbalist Susun Weed. It’s packed with easily absorbable nutrients including magnesium, calcium and B-vitamins which help restore and balance hormonal function. Women who are trying to get pregnant can use red clover for its alkalinizing effects, as it balances vaginal pH in favor of conception. It’s available in many forms including tea, tinctures and capsules.

Chaste tree berry also known as Vitex Agnus Castus, is a popular herbal treatment for irregular menstrual cycles. It stimulates and normalizes pituitary gland functions, particularly the progesterone function, helping your body regulate itself. Clinical studies have shown it to be a powerful treatment for infertility, hormonal imbalance, PMS, ovulatory irregularity, lack of menstruation and painful menstruation.

Dong Quai has been used for millennia by the Chinese to promote fertility. It contains iron, vitamin B12 and Vitamin E, which help build a healthy uterine lining, and also balances estrogen in the body. It should be taken in tincture form in conjunction with other herbs like Chaste tree berry.

Red Raspberry Leaf is an extremely effective uterine tonic that can help relieve cramps in women who aren’t pregnant, and prepare a pregnant woman for labor during the third trimester. Some health practitioners also recommend it in early pregnancy to ease morning sickness. It strengthens the uterine muscles and is rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron. Take it in a tea or tonic alone or in conjunction with Red Clover or Nettle.

Perimenopause - Menopause:

Menopause is a big transition, and it’s viewed with no small amount of trepidation by many women. But, it doesn’t have to be scary. Herbal therapies can help ease the symptoms that come along with “the change”.

Black Cohosh is an estrogenic herb that can reduce cramps, relieve hot flashes and muscular pain and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s one of the most widely studied herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms, and has been used by Native Americans for women’s health for hundreds of years. Women who have had breast cancer should avoid it. It’s usually take in tablet form.

Licorice also contains estrogenic compounds and is useful in small quantities for menopausal ailments. It can help fight depression and reduce stress levels by preventing the breakdown of adrenal hormones such as cortisol, the body’s main stress-fighting hormone, making them more available to the body. A safe dosage is less than a quarter-ounce of true licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, not anise) daily.

Sage is a helpful herbal ally against those pesky night sweats, reducing excessive sweating and hot flashes. The fresh or dried leaves can be eaten in meals, or you can take ½ teaspoon of sage tincture three times daily.

Post Menopause:

After menopause, most of the ill effects of the transition are over – but along come a whole new set of challenges. Herbs that nourish the body, protect the heart and bones, and strengthen the bladder will help you live longer and enjoy your time as a ‘wise woman’.

Horsetail increases mass and flexibility in the bones, and has been said to actually reverse osteoporosis. It stimulates bone repair, stabilizes chronic periodontal disease, strengthens blood vessels and prevents clogged arteries. It also nourishes the hair and nails. Just drink a cup of the dried tea once or twice a day.

Oatstraw helps lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, relieve depression and improve circulation. It also strengthens vaginal, bladder and urethral tissues, helps prevent incontinence and treats vaginal dryness. Drink an infusion of the dried herb 1-4 times


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