As a perimenopausal woman, you may be considering exploring certain herbs and botanicals to help manage the symptoms and challenges accompanying this natural life transition. Herbal medicine and women's wisdom are intertwined and rooted in nature and ancestral ways.
Having said that, it's important to note that herbal remedies should be used with reverence and caution and under the guidance of an herbalist or natural health care provider, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is not an exhaustive list, and everyone's experiences with these herbal remedies are unique and vary from person to person.
In this blog, I'd like to share with you some of the most well-known and loved herbs for perimenopausal women:
- Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): Black cohosh is perhaps one of the most well-known herbs for menopausal symptom relief. It may help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. When you look at the blooming plant, you see beauty and elegance in its foliage and flowers. But under the soil, its roots are all balled and knotted up. So when you feel like you are putting on your pretty face to share with the world, yet, inside, you actually feel like a ball of tension. Consider allowing Black Cohosh to help relieve some of that stress.
- Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage has been traditionally used to alleviate hot flashes and excessive sweating associated with menopause because it is so cooling and wise.
- Damiana (Turnera diffusa) - Damiana is a renowned herbal aphrodisiac used by the indigenous peoples of Mexico throughout time. It is believed to increase libido but can relieve mild stress, anxiety, and depression. Damiana is an herb for women's health and is known to improve menstrual irregularities. Damiana is great for increasing the libido in perimenopausal women when enjoyed as a tea or even a vaginal steam.
- Rose (Rosa rubiginosa): There are about 360 species of roses! Rose is the flower with the highest frequency of love. This sacred bloom is helpful in perimenopause for hot flashes, anxiety, and night sweats that disturb peaceful sleep. Rose petals comfort the heart and psyche in this time of great transition into the unknown. Enjoy Rose petals as a delicious tea to help balance hormones. Or place rose petals with other herbs for a yoni steam with a delightful aroma and let the healing vapors bless your womb vaginal tissues.
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): Red clover contains compounds known as isoflavones, which have estrogen-like effects and may help relieve hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. On a spiritual level, Red Clover teaches us about protection, giving and receiving, reciprocity, deep listening, and self-actualization.
- Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis): Dong quai is often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to support women's health during menopause. It may help balance hormones and relieve menopausal symptoms. Dong Quai is often referred to as "Female Ginseng" because of its ability to support women during all stages of life, whether during menstruation, postpartum, or during menopause. Not only does Dong Quai provide relief from painful cramping, but it is also seen as an overall uterine tonic.
- Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus): Also known as Monk Pepper or Vitex Berry, the leaves and flowers are believed to possess the same properties, but it is the berry that is most potent. Brewed as a tea or decoction and extracted into tinctures. Chasteberry may promote fertility, regulate the menstrual cycle, and soothe symptoms associated with PMS while balancing hormones, reducing breast tenderness, and relieving mood swings related to perimenopause.
- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum): St. John's Wort is a nervine, which means it supports the nervous system, and it is commonly used to address mood swings, anxiety, and depression that can be exacerbated during perimenopause. It is also an excellent ally for nerve pain.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is famous for supporting your body to rest when it needs to rest and energizing you when you need more energy. It is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps minimize stress reactions and protects against the long term effects of stress. Ashwagandha is also known to increase the female libido, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase immunity. The roots of this sacred herb can be enjoyed in the form of warm tea to combat a stressful day.
- Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - A member of the mint family, its leaves release a pleasant, lemony fragrance when crushed. Sniffing the bruised leaves is refreshing and therapeutic in itself! It is traditionally consumed to treat the nervous system as a nervine. Lemon Balm not only helps relieve stress but also soothes an upset stomach and relieves gas. It is also known as the "Joyful Herb" for its ability to uplift and remedy depression and anxiety.
- Chlorophyll - Hemoglobin and Chlorophyll have similar cellular structures. The main difference is that hemoglobin is built around iron (Fe), whereas Chlorophyll is built around magnesium (Mg). The primary function of hemoglobin is to transport oxygen from the lungs to other body parts. Hemoglobin comprises four elements- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. All four are organized around iron. Chlorophyll is composed of the same elements, which are organized around magnesium. Chlorophyll helps do the job of hemoglobin when ingested. Chlorophyll promotes healthy circulation, cleanses the body, increases the number of red blood cells, and increases oxygen throughout the body. In other words, Chlorophyll helps build hemoglobin. This is precisely what depleted and anemic perimenopausal women need. Chlorophyll can aid with stimulating the immune system, reduce candida fungus in the body, and improve symptoms of anemia. It's ideal to maintain healthy iron levels or for those feeling exhausted and depleted.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba may enhance cognitive function and memory, which can be affected during perimenopause. Historically, herbalists thought it helped memory because it improves blood flow to the brain. Now, research suggests it may also protect nerve cells that are damaged in Alzheimer's disease.
Remember, many more herbs can be added to this list, and it is essential to consult with a qualified herbalist and buy herbs from reputable herbal companies before using herbs as a form of treatment for perimenopausal symptoms. They can guide appropriate dosages and potential interactions with medications and monitor your progress to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Herbal remedies are one piece of the picture. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercises like Qigong provide many health benefits and stress management, which are foundational components to a holistic and healthy life during perimenopause.