I've written about helpful herbs during pregnancy, but there are also herbal remedies for women across other walks of life. As our healthcare system becomes increasingly expensive and complicated, people are turning to herbal medicine – especially women, who tend to make the healthcare decisions for their families.
Herbal medicine has been used effectively for millenia. While pharmaceuticals have their place, herbs are often more ecological, more accessible, and just as effective with fewer side effects.
Whenever anyone in my family (myself included) is sick or in need of medical care, I always reach for natural solutions first. I feel so much better when we put natural, usually plant-based medicines into our bodies rather than those that were concocted in a science lab. While I’m definitely not opposed to using modern medicine when necessary, I do think that most of the mainstream drugs on the market should be reserved for very specific circumstances. I also think our bodies are already pretty amazing at protecting and healing themselves for the most part!
Covered here are accessible, low-risk herbs for women. Most of these should be available through Mountain Rose Herbs or your local health food store.
Stress + Insomnia
I have never, ever met a woman who hasn't dealt with stress or anxiety at some point. We have a lot on our shoulders! While there are definitely lifestyle habits to consider if stress is an ongoing issue, there are some herbs that are known to help.
- Chamomile tea is one of the most widely known and confirmed herbal preparations to promote relaxation.
- Lavender essential oil has been my go-to for managing stress.
Did you know that more women die from heart disease each year than men? I was so surprised to learn this! Women should take extra care to promote heart health. Beyond the fun stuff like drinking a glass of red wine a day and getting plenty of exercise, you can promote heart health with flax, olive oil, avocado, as well as herbs like:
- Ginkgo biloba
I'm not here yet, but older women I've spoken with have confirmed the effectiveness of
- Red clover, which, when prepared as a tea is absolutely delicious! It helps with hot flashes, night sweats, and there's evidence of it preventing osteoporosis, a concern of many women at the age of menopause.
- Black cohosh is of the most thoroughly studied herbs and helps many women manage hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.
- Black cohosh is also helpful for avoiding mood issues during PMS.
- Nettle is rich in minerals that ease cramping. It's also rich in iron, which menstruating women need plenty of in order to avoid anemia.
- Ginseng is a powerful energizing herb that can be helpful for women who experience fatigue.
I usually turn to essential oils for headache relief, basing my choice on the time of day due to the side effects. I'll use:
- Peppermint oil during the day, as it has stimulating properties.
- Lavender oil during the evening, since it's calming.
I'll usually either diffuse essential oil for headaches or use a drop in a small amount of carrier for facial massage, focusing on my temples.
With our increasing toxic load, cancer rates are rising – women are exposed to cancer-causing compounds in our food, our personal care products, our makeup… it's wise to try to avoid these ingredients. Getting intentional about antioxidants can help lighten the load as well. Rich sources of antioxidant include:
A tea made from fresh leaves is ideal, but a supplement containing antioxidant-rich herbs is helpful, too. I personally take the Opti-women brand, which contains an antioxidant herbal blend. Easy!