After her fullest peek beamed into the November night sky, the moon slowly begins her waning process this week, rotating herself once more around our planet earth. I too find myself eager to begin this new lunar cycle, but even more so, find myself grateful that this last cycle is over with! Although I feel blessed that my menstrual flow has typically follows the cycle of the moon (about every 28 days), this may have been one of the worst menstruation periods I have had all year long. The fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and the cramping, dear Lord, the cramping! As a wild-crafter, I have searched for years for the best herbal remedies to set my pains at ease. Whereas I still believe the right plant is out there waiting for me to find it, here are some of my menstruation “go to” herbs that most certainly help my pains and energy levels during that time of the month.
Chaste tree berry, (Vitex agnus-castus), has an incredible normalizing effect on our reproductive hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Functional disorders of our menstrual cycles are often considered a sign of hormonal imbalance. Official testing can be done by consulting your family OBGYN or midwife. Estrogen tends to dominate after our luteal phase begins, which is the 14 days after our ovulation period has ended. Some of the active compounds found in Chaste tree, seem to act directly on our pituitary gland. It acts by, “inhibiting the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and promoting the secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) 1 Chasteberry’s apparent stimulatory effect on LH leads to an increase in progesterone, which may normalize the balance between estrogen and progesterone” (Mayo, 1998). Be aware, for those of you who are able to conceive, this also aides in our own fertility. For cycle support, this tincture can be consumed throughout the month, about 20-30 drops twice a day. Often, I only take it a week prior, but many herbalists recommend taking it every day.
If LH levels are too high, and you are struggling with too much progesterone, Black Cohosh may be able to bring you back into balance. This woodland medicinal is often used to treat menopausal symptoms and is also utilized to ease the cramping during menstruation. Various aromatic acids found in the herb act as an anti-inflammatory.
For the serious pains, try Black Haw and/or Cramp Bark (both are found in the Viburnum family, and can be utilized interchangeably). These trusty herbs act as a uterine antispasmodic, and can be used several days before menstruation to prevent the onset of nasty cramping. I take Black Haw several times a day during my cycle, and find it to work best for my pains.
Lastly, for those of you who experience nightly woes and need to fall asleep, Valerian Root is the way to go. Mix about 15-20 drops of this tincture with 2 tablespoon of water, and you will be sleeping in no time. Usually, I take about 30 drops of Black Haw, with 30 drops of Chaste Berry; and mix it all with the Valerian root. I soon find myself sleeping within minutes, pain free and at ease with menstruation frustration. For an added energy boost, try 1 milliliter of ginseng tincture with 30 drops of gingko leaf, 2 times a day during your cycle. Be sure to look for ethically grown ginseng and goldenseal, as both of these woodland medicinals can be harvested before they are ready. Soon, Zoe farms will be able to offer both, and we will definitely provide adequate care for its growth and its sustainability as a species.
Drink lots of water, and consume good amounts of fiber, protein and high iron foods (especially if your flow consists of heavy bleeding). Dark leafy greens and lean meats for your main meals, and small protein packed foods like nuts and a tablespoon of peanut butter are also helpful to ward off energy drops and sugar cravings. High amounts of magnesium should be taken before menstruation begins to ease pains and improve the overall function of your thyroid. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is mega high in magnesium, and has a variety of other beneficial trace minerals. However, this will dehydrate you! Be sure to drink plenty of water.
Remain as active as you can, but don’t forget to rest. Research does support that physical activity and adequate sleep can help with energy levels and cramping during our cycles. I have found several yoga moves that work great for me during painful spurts (child pose while swaying hips), and I am grateful to have an incredible partner who often rubs my hips, thighs, and pelvis, as they tend to be the more sensitive and sore parts of my body during my cycle.
Every woman is different, and as I mentioned before, my last cycle was so bad that it seemed as though nothing would work! This does happen for sure. There are also many women out there that feel little to no pain, whatsoever. No two people are the same, and there is no need to compare yourself to anyone. You are not crazy, and your feelings are valid. If you think something may be wrong with your cycles, get to someone who can help. There may be a more serious problem happening that only a professional can check and address.
I do hope that you find these remedies helpful! This is certainly a topic I could go on and on about. May we all embrace our bodies’ natural rhythm, and reclaim our cycle as an important and beautiful part of our lives.