Herbs & Adaptogens for the Feminine Cycle

March 30, 2018 | 8 Comments

Being in tune with the phases of the moon can connect you to your bodies rhythms. After being introduced to Susan Weed‘s books in my early twenties, I began to incorporate certain herbal allies in my life to further that symbiotic contact. I’ll never forgot the aha moment when I realized how our hormonal systems are directly influenced by herbs, tinctures and teas. I suffered from ovarian cysts after the birth of my daughter, and when western doctors said there was nothing they could do I began to become a researcher in the ways of the wise women. This is pre-internet so I would spend countless hours at the library, or at little herbal shops like the Santa Monica homeopathic pharmacy. I also began to devour all the books by Susan Weed. Incorporating nettle and red clover infusions was a game changer for me. These plant allies align us with the earth, and are beauty enhancers helping with creating abundant hair growth and clear skin. Later when Ayurvedic practices began to enhance my health, I saw the direct parallel with that and the herb world.

I am so grateful for practitioners that are simplifying and demystifying all this knowledge so the younger generations can get relief and heal themselves. One of these wise women is Kristen of Dahl House Nutrition who has appeared here ok TLR in the past with her incredible nourishing recipes.

I’m so excited to share this in-depth post by her on specific adaptogens and herbs to take to harmonize our female cycles.

It’s an exciting time when ancient remedies are being married to technological ways to get the information across to us all!

 

Herbs & Adaptogens for the Feminine Cycle

Herbs & Adaptogens for each feminine phase  

The menstrual cycle is divided into two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. Within these phases, there are two additional phases: menstruation and ovulation. The follicular phase starts on the first day of your cycle (the first day of menstruation) and lasts until ovulation, usually around day 10-14. The luteal phase begins after this, and lasts for days 14-28 (approximately), leading up to your next period. These phases are prompted by hormonal changes that occur naturally within the body, and so the health of our menstrual cycles can tell us a lot about the health of our hormones.

If our cycles are irregular and our hormones imbalanced, they can be supported and rebalanced by using herbs and adaptogens throughout the course of each month. Alternating with different herbs and adaptogens that are complementary to the specific phases of our cycles is the most effective way to achieve harmony.

If you are dealing with a serious hormonal imbalance or recent diagnosis, it’s imperative that you seek support and guidance from a nutrition practitioner.

Here are some guidelines for ensuring a happy cycle:

 

PHASE 1: FOLLICULAR

This is the phase in which our bodies prepare for a potential pregnancy. It’s an opportunity for a new beginning and we often feel a heightened energy and vitality in the body. There’s a steady increase of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) as well as increased estrogen, which causes luteinizing hormone (LH) levels to go up dramatically and several follicles to develop. These follicles hold immature eggs, until at least one is released in ovulation. We want to support the potential for increased vitality during this time.

As we feel our energy levels increasing, we should notice PMS symptoms decreasing and a generally more pleasant sense of being. We are more extroverted, social, and confident during this phase. This reflects our animalistic instinct of attempting to attract a mate in preparation for ovulation and conception. Even if you’re not trying to get pregnant at this time, it’s a good idea to support this phase to ensure overall health and bodily balance.

 

Phase 1 optional herbs & adaptogens –

Nettle

High in iron to support blood loss

Drink as a tea or infusion daily

 

Adaptogens

Holy basil

Regulates blood sugar

Boosts immunity

Drink as a tea or infusion daily during this phase.

 

Schisandra

Nourishes the kidneys after menses

Reduces Stress hormones

Lifts energy

Drink as an infusion daily during this phase- best in the a.m. as it can be stimulating.

 

PHASE 2: LUTEAL

This phase begins right after ovulation. It is marked by the breaking down of an unfertilized egg, decreased levels of estrogen, and a spike in progesterone levels. This abrupt change in hormones is what can lead to intense unpleasant or unmanageable feeling and symptoms. This is generally a time when we begin to look within. Our energy decreases and we may become more withdrawn and introverted.

 

Phase 2 optional herbs & adaptogens –

Chaste tree berry (aka Vitex)

Helps to lengthen the luteal phase. This is important as a short luteal phase can be indicative of conception issues in the future (or currently if you’re trying to conceive).

Boosts progesterone levels

Take in tincture or capsule form daily during this phase.

 

Ginger

Warms the body

Helps clear gas and bloating

Supports digestion & detoxification

Drink as a tea, add to food or take in capsule form as needed

 

Burdock Root

removes excess hormones

cleanses the liver

Drink as a tea or infusion daily

 

Adaptogens

Holy basil

Lifts mood and helps with mild depression associated with PMS

Drink as a tea or infusion daily during this phase.

 

Ashwagandha

Balances stress levels

Increases vitality and energy levels, which can be low during this phase

Take in tincture or powder as needed

 

MENSTRUATION

Menstruation marks the beginning of a cycle and is the easiest phase to recognize. The uterine lining begins to shed, resulting in bleeding. This is a result of decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen will steadily increase over the course of the menstrual and follicular phases, but progesterone will stay at a consistently low level until ovulation, at which time you’ll steadily feel energy levels increasing.

 

Menstrual phase herbs & adaptogens –

Red raspberry leaf

A uterine tonic, it relieves cramping and pain

Drink as a tea or infusion daily

 

Nettle

High in iron to support blood loss & remineralize the body

Drink as a tea or infusion daily

 

Cramp bark

Helps relieve cramping associated with menses.

Take as a decoction or tincture daily.

 

Turmeric

anti-inflammatory

Supports digestive system

Helps with menstrual cramps

Add to food or take in capsule form as needed


Adaptogens


Chaga mushroom

High in iron to support blood loss

Supports immunity & regulates energy

Works as a cleansing aid, to support this method of cleansing (menses)

Drink as a decoction or in powder form as desired

 

Ashwagandha

Helps to regulate hormone imbalances

Nourishes the body

Boosts immunity

Take in tincture or powder as needed

 

OVULATION

Ovulation occurs halfway through the average cycle, and begins with the release of at least one mature egg. It’s a 1-2 day window when we are most fertile and when we experience a peak in estrogen, LH, and LSF. This is usually when we are feeling at our peak. Energy levels are up, our skin looks vibrant and clear, and we have an extrospective presence. We are usually at our sexual peak as well.

 

Ovulation phase herbs & adaptogens –

Red clover

Increases cervical mucus and lubricates the vagina

Drink as an infusion daily

 

Adaptogens


Shatavari

Boosts LH production, which promotes healthy ovulation

If you’re trying to conceive, take it from menstruation up until ovulation begins, then stop and resume next cycle.

Take as a tea or in power form as desired

 

Maca

Increases energy and stamina

Increases libido

Balances estrogen levels

Take in powder form or capsule daily or as desired

 

LIVER SUPPORT

In addition to supporting the individual stages of the menstrual cycle, we can support our liver all month long. Liver health is vital for proper hormone balance and menstrual health. The liver is responsible for processing and secreting hormones from the body, and it can become clogged if there is an excess.

Liver supporting herbs:


*Dandelion root

*Burdock Root

*Milk thistle

*Chicory root

*Yellow Dock

 

Fiber

Certain fibers bind to excess estrogen in the body and help the liver to metabolize and excrete it. Fiber also helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol levels, lowering the burden of stress in the body. In addition, fiber promotes digestive regularity, reducing constipation related to PMS. Ensure you’re getting 35 to 40 grams of insoluble fiber per day.

Ground flax seeds are a great option as they specifically bind to estrogen receptors and balance levels.

 

Cleansing

The liver is a strong and resilient organ – it’s the only organ that can regenerate itself! Give your liver a break by doing cleansing 1 day a week throughout the month. This will give it an opportunity to rest and flush out toxins.

 

1 day per week – eat light and nourish with soups, salads, juices, herbal teas, infusions & plenty of water

Chrysanthemum tea

Supports cleansing

Reduces heat in the body

Anti-inflammatory

Beauty tonic

Drink as a tea

 

Yoni Steaming: Steaming helps improve stagnation and remove old residue in the vaginal canal and womb space. If blood from the previous menstrual cycle has not been properly removed and cleansed, the body identifies it as a foreign substance. This activates muscles in the abdomen to attempt to push it out of the body. This muscle contracting action results in painful cramps. Doing vaginal steams can assist the body with cleansing the uterus, speed up blood flow, and improve circulation, which enhances the body’s own cleansing mechanisms.

 

Adding herbs to the process can enhance the effects. Beneficial herbs include: lavender, white sage, nettle, rose, red raspberry, chamomile, dandelion, calendula, and mugwort.

 

*Do not steam during your period, after ovulation if you are trying to get pregnant, or if there is excess heat in the body due to fever, hot flashes, or night sweats.

 

Visit Dahl House Nutrition for more.

 

Photos by Alexa Gray

 

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8 comments

  1. Paula says:

    Very helpful. Many thanks!

  2. Kitty says:

    Question: Herbs and adaptogens that are recommended for Phase One (or Phase Two) – are they recommended throughout that phase? Meaning, recommended during menstruation or ovulation in addition to herbs/adaptogens for those phases? Or are they replaced by the herbs/adaptogens recommended for those additional phases? Thanks in advanced!

    • Shiva Rose says:

      This is a good questions I did take then throughout but I will have Kristen respond back Thank you

    • Kristin Dahl says:

      Hi Kitty! Each phase is a supportive transition to the next – depending on your body, hormones, condition etc .. your needs & requirements may be different. This is more of general phase by phase guide of what herbs & adaptogens are most supportive during the feminine transitions throughout the month – and there are several herbs for women that are supportive throughout the month – like nettle & red raspberry – and herbs like shisandra are incredibly nourishing to the body post-menses – though I know some people take shisandra for 100 days straight .. With all herbs & holistic guidance – It’s best to work intuitively and see what your body responds best to. If you’re dealing with deeper or more serious hormone imbalances or conditions, it’s often most helpful to work one-on-one with a holistic practitioner for very specific advice. Hope that helps!

  3. Tara-Lee says:

    What an incredibly enlightening article. Thank you so much for sharing this. 💕

  4. Chelsea says:

    This is fascinating and super helpful. Thanks for breaking it all down as well!

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