Ask the Herbalist: 5 Herbs for Women’s Health


| August/September 2011



Womens health 1

Black cohosh is the most commonly used herb for menopause.


Photo by Steven Foster

Q. Which herbs are especially helpful for women?

A. Every woman is intimately tied to nature. The menstrual cycle follows the cycle of the moon, ebbing and flowing every 28 days, in most cases. A woman’s body can grow and change, like the earth, to hold the life that grows within. And like the soil below us, a woman’s body can assimilate the nutrients needed to grow the perfect food for her children. Perhaps this connection with the cycles of nature has something to do with the powerful relationship that plants can have in supporting the health of women. For thousands of years, herbs have been consumed as part of rituals of menstruation and as part of supporting a woman through her transitions into puberty, motherhood and menopause. And today, botanical medicines provide potent medicine for modern women. Here are five herbs I think are well-suited to women’s health.

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)

Vitex is one of the best herbs to support a woman’s menstrual cycle. Vitex has a powerful action as a hormone balancer by supporting good communication between the brain and the ovaries, so that the ovaries can produce healthy levels of estrogen and progesterone. Vitex is best consumed in its tincture form. Although the taste is strong, the result is powerful, especially for women with short menstrual cycles, trouble conceiving, cramping and PMS. 

(Click here to see a photo of chaste tree berry.)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover is the most concentrated source of phytoestrogens, or substances in the plant that look like the body’s own hormone, estrogen. This can be helpful when estrogen levels are low (such as during menopause), especially when used in combination with black cohosh. Red clover can help with the hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness that can occur when estrogen levels drop. It has a very pleasant taste and can be steeped in a tea. The best part of this plant is that many of us have it in our yard. If you don’t use pesticides or herbicides, you can pick and brew the plants right out of your lawn.

(Click here to see a photo of red clover.)





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