If you’re going to talk about women’s health – and the best herbs for female health – you’ve got to talk about hormones! Whether it’s premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and herbal remedies for menstrual cramps in young girls, or natural herbs menopause could use for relief from night sweats and moodiness… hormones play a major role in life stages for women.
The most common problem is the hormonal imbalance that comes before and after menopause. On average, American women reach menopause around the age of 51, but menopause can occur at younger or older ages.
During the menopause transition, the months or years right before menopause (her final menstrual period), her levels of several hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, go up and down irregularly. This happens as the ovaries begin working less and less well.
After a woman’s last menstrual period, when her ovaries make much less estrogen and progesterone, some symptoms of menopause might disappear, but others may continue or get worse. In addition, the drop in estrogen levels puts women at a higher risk for osteoporosis, the condition where bones become weak, brittle and prone to injury.
Estrogen is a sex hormone that is essential to female bone health because it promotes the activity of osteoblasts, which are cells that produce bone. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, the osteoblasts aren’t able to effectively produce bone.
Not great news, we realize. But there are natural herbs menopause symptoms can benefit from and menopause treatment herbal (the natural fix!), so we’ll talk about those in a minute.
So what really works to prevent menstrual cramps, night sweats, hot flashes and bone loss?
Herbal remedies for menstrual cramps include the following:
Chaste tree berry: The menstrual cramps, irritability and headaches that come with PMS are no picnic for some women, whether they’re preteen or approaching perimenopause, the start of menopause transition. A study in the British Medical Journal found that 52 percent of study participants taking chaste tree berry experienced relief from these symptoms. It may also help to regulate and normalize the menstrual cycle.
Cramp bark: This plant is grown in North America and has a long history in traditional medicine. Native Americans used cramp bark to reduce swollen glands and treat fluid retention. The bark and root bark are now popular for relieving cramps, including muscle spasms and menstrual cramps. One of the top home remedies for menstrual cramps.
Ginger: The queasy, achy stomach that comes with PMS isn’t much fun. Ginger may help calm and quiet the stomach.
Here are some of the top herbs to try for the symptoms that come with menopause:
Black cohosh: This herb is one of the most popular (and most studied) treatments for hot flashes and night sweats. It can help alleviate these symptoms, but scientists are not clear about how it works. Speculation says it exerts an estrogenic effect – a positive when estrogen levels are dropping.
Evening primrose oil or black current oil: These oils are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help moderate menopausal symptoms like mood swings.
Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens): These estrogens occur naturally in foods. There are two main types: Isoflavones and lignans. Isoflavones are found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes. Lignans occur in flaxseed, whole grains and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, and some fruits, especially apricots and strawberries.
When it comes to the best herbs for female health, we have to include these
Dong quai: This Chinese herb is often referred to as “female ginseng” because of its all-round usefulness to improve energy, mood and overall well-being.
Flaxseed: The popular seed is rich in the omega-3 fat alpha-linoleic acid, great for heart health, which should be a concern for women as well as men. The American Heart Association says that nearly twice as many American women die of heart disease and stroke as from all types of cancer, including breast cancer.
A Harvard study of more than 76,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study found that women eating a diet rich in alpha-linoleic acid appeared to have a lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, compared to women whose diets were lacking in this fat. These are versatile seeds, so buy and grind yourself for best nutrients, and add to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, salads and more.
Lavender: This calming herb for women (and men) may help reduce anxiety, making it a good choice for overall mental health and well-being. Try lavender tea or lavender oil drops dabbed behind your ears.
Lemon balm: Soothe your nerves and promote well-being with lemon balm, another one of the popular herbs for female health. This perennial herb from the mint family has a subtle lemon aroma. Peace and tranquility, please!
These home remedies for menstrual cramps, menopause and good mental health, will help smooth the aging process and make life’s milestones a little bit easier. Going the natural route with these herbs for female health is an excellent place to start for symptom relief – and enjoying every stage of your life.
I’m aiming to live to 100 – but a 100 quality years where I’m still able to move around and get on my bike, read good books and enjoy great food that doesn’t need to be pureed for spoon-feeding. The wonders of modern medicine aside, there’s a good chance I will be an able-bodied centenarian. That’s because I’m female. Read more here.
Concerned about your bones? And ways to keep bones healthy? You should be. The sooner you start the better. As they say, too, it’s never too late. Here’s what you can do.