Three Herbs To Balance Womens Hormones
Herbal medicine has been used around the world for many centuries to support good health. The number of different herbs and the benefits they have make for a very long list, but for women there a few well-studied, popular herbs that offer specific benefits to women's health.
Let’s take a look at some of the some of the powerhouse herbs in women’s health.
Dong Quai, in the same family as carrots and celery, has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It is considered to be a blood tonic, improving red blood cell count and increasing blood flow.
For women, the symptom which Dong Quai is most commonly assigned to target is hot flashes associated with menopause. However, because of it’s regulating effects on estrogen, it can help ease not only hot flashes, but also mood swings and menstrual irregularities. It also strengthens uterine muscles and improves uterine tone, reducing cramping and painful periods. The significant levels of iron in Dong Quai mean that it is also helpful in relieving anemia, therefore increasing energy and reducing headaches.
Aside from hormonal issues, Dong Quai is beneficial for cardiovascular health as well. Because it contains the active ingredient, coumarin, a natural blood thinner, it can lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
The root of the Dong Quai plant is dried and prepared as a tea, tincture, or in tablet and capsule form and is often combined with other herbs such as Black Cohosh and Vitex for female health. As Dong Quai can affect the uterine muscles, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
The Vitex plant, also called the Chaste plant, is a large shrub with purple flowers similar to a lilac, but it is the small brown berries on this shrub that are used for medicinal purposes. Chaste berries are known as nature’s hormone balancer, with plenty of robust scientific evidence to back up the bold name.
Several of these studies show that Vitex supports the production of luteinizing hormone (LH) which plays a key role in the health of the reproductive system. LH is responsible for triggering ovulation and also boosts progesterone levels in the latter half of the menstrual cycle. This balancing of progesterone leads to diminished symptoms of PMS such as breast tenderness, moodiness, fatigue, acne, migraines, cramps, and bloating. Proper levels of progesterone also ensure the regularity of the menstrual cycle, including ovulation, which also improves fertility. For women in child-bearing years, Vitex can be a great support for feeling your best.
Vitex can be taken in capsule or tincture form, but since it has a bitter taste, many people prefer the capsules. Since it works by correcting hormonal imbalances, it is more of a long-term remedy than a quick fix. Allow a few months to see results.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose flowers are abundant in North America and aptly named because they are night-blooming plants. Oil is extracted from the tiny seeds found in the Evening Primrose flowers, and this oil, rich in fatty acids, is particularly high in gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid which must be obtained from our diet and is crucial for brain and hormone health.
The body converts GLA to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which counteract pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. It is this pro-inflammatory action that contributes to uterine cramps, breast tenderness, ovarian and breast cysts, and overall cyclical discomfort. So the anti-inflammatory properties of Evening Primrose oil are great for relieving PMS symptoms. Not only that, but the overall hormone balance provided by Evening Primrose oil has been shown to help women experiencing menopausal symptoms. Research has shown that EPO decreases the intensity and frequency of hot flashes, boosts energy, and improves mood.
Evening Primrose oil and the omega-6’s it provides makes this herb a powerhouse of hormone balance.