Although Mother Nature has given women unique challenges, she has also blessed us with a plethora of herbs that seem to be perfectly suited for our unique gynecological needs.
Pre and Post Menopause
Some herbs may serve women both in their youth as well as during menopause. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is probably the best-known herb for menopause in North America today. However, much like Dong Quai, its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and analgesic properties, as well as its affinity for the uterine muscles, make it well suited for gynecological complaints, such as menstrual pains, premenstrual headaches or migraines, and ovulatory discomfort. Black cohosh can also offer relief to menopausal women suffering from hot flashes, headaches, sweating, insomnia, headaches, depression and vaginal dryness. Most evidence suggests it does not actually impart estrogen activity, yet this is controversial.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is also used to treat health complaints affecting mature women such as hot flashes, osteoporosis, and vaginal dryness. Its phytoestrogen (or plant estrogen) constituents explain why it is sometimes referred to as a natural form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Phytoestrogens are natural to many herbs and plants. In fact, the regular consumption of phytoestrogen-rich soy foods are associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. While Red Clover has a high safety profile, it is always best to seek guidance if you are a woman with a family or person history of an estrogen-receptor (ER) positive breast cancer or if you are currently taking HRT.
Herbs can be in the form of a tea, as a pill with a standardized extract or by way of an alcohol extract known as a tincture. A combination usually yields the best results.
By Thalia Charney, MA
Nutrition and Health Education Manager
Thalia Charney is a former Naturopathic Doctor, public speaker and the author of, The Confident Food Shopper: The Guide to Food Labels and Fables. As the Nutrition and Health Education Manager at Puresource (NOW Health Group Canada), she teaches how natural health products can support optimal health and wellness.