As a perimenopausal woman, you may be interested in exploring which herbs and botanicals can help manage the symptoms and challenges accompanying this natural life transition. Herbal medicine and women's wisdom are intertwined and rooted in nature and ancestral ways. We call this the wise woman way.
Each of us is individual, and we have specific needs based on our circumstances. It's important to note that herbal remedies should be treated with reverence and caution, and if you are just starting an herbal routine, please do so under the guidance of an herbalist or natural health care provider, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications.
In this blog, I will share with you some of the most well-known and loved herbs for perimenopausal women. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and everyone's experiences with these herbal remedies are unique and vary from person to person:
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): Black cohosh is perhaps one of the most well-known herbs for perimenopausal symptom relief. It may help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. When you look at the blooming plant, you see beauty and elegance in its foliage and flowers. But under the soil, its roots are all balled and knotted up. So when you feel like you are putting on your pretty face to share with the world, yet, inside, you actually feel like a ball of tension. Consider allowing Black Cohosh to help relieve some of that stress and tension. Black Cohosh is relaxing to the body and may help you sleep better, too.
Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage has been traditionally used to alleviate hot flashes and excessive sweating associated with perimenopause because it is so cooling and wise. Working with sage feels like you are inviting a sacred elder to be with you to cool, cleanse, and clear some of the excessive heat building in your body.
Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus) - Much like the name suggests, Cramp Bark is traditionally an aid for pain relief from muscle spasms and menstrual cramping. Cramp Bark softens the pain from cramping yet still promotes effective cramps to empty your uterus during your cycle so you don't bleed too heavily and experience menstrual flooding. Historically, Native Americans shared a special relationship with Cramp Bark. It provided relief from inflammation.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) - Damiana is a renowned herbal aphrodisiac used by the indigenous peoples of Mexico throughout time. Most people use it to increase libido and to relieve mild stress, anxiety, and depression. It can give you a mildly euphoric sensation and the ability to shift your energy and support you to release some inhibition. Damiana is a women's health botanical known to improve menstrual irregularities and discomfort. Perimenopausal women can increase their libido by drinking Damiana tea, in a tincture, or even a vaginal steam.
Rose (Rosa rubiginosa): The sheer beauty of Roses is sacred and the epitome of a divine feminine herb. There are about 360 species of roses, and it is one of the earliest cultivated plants in human history. Rose is the flower with the highest frequency of love. This sacred bloom is helpful in perimenopause for hot flashes, anxiety, and night sweats that disturb peaceful sleep. Rose petals comfort the heart and psyche in this time of great transition into the unknown. Enjoy Rose petals as a delicious tea to help balance hormones. Or place rose petals with other herbs for a yoni steam with a delightful aroma and let the healing vapors bless your womb vaginal tissues.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): The abundant and beautiful Red Clover blossoms contain compounds known as isoflavones, which have estrogen-like effects and may help relieve hot flashes and other perimenopausal symptoms. On a spiritual level, Red Clover teaches us about protection, giving and receiving, reciprocity, deep listening, and self-actualization.
Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis): Dong quai is often used as a principal herb in many Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formulas to support women's health during perimenopause. It may help balance hormones and relieve perimenopausal symptoms. Dong Quai is often referred to as "Female Ginseng" because of its ability to support women during all stages of life, whether during menstruation, postpartum, or perimenopause. Not only does Dong Quai provide relief from painful cramping, but it is also seen as an overall uterine tonic.
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus): Also known as Monk Pepper or Vitex Berry, promotes a healthy womb. The leaves and flowers are believed to possess the same properties, but it is the berry that is the most potent part of the plant. Brewed as a tea or decoction or extracted into tinctures, chasteberry may promote fertility, regulate the menstrual cycle, and soothe symptoms associated with PMS while balancing hormones, reducing breast tenderness, and relieving mood swings related to perimenopause.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum): St. John's Wort is a nervine, which means it supports the nervous system, and it is commonly used to address mood swings, anxiety, and depression that can be exacerbated during perimenopause. It is also an excellent ally for nerve pain in the physical body.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is famous for supporting your body to rest when it needs to rest and energizing you when you need more energy. It is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps minimize stress reactions and protects against the long term effects of stress. Ashwagandha is also known to increase the female libido, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase immunity. The roots of this sacred herb can be enjoyed in the form of warm tea to combat a stressful day. You will also find it in tinctures and capsules, making it easy to incorporate into your herbal routine.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - known as the "Joyful Herb" because of its ability to uplift and remedy depression and anxiety. It is a member of the mint family and its leaves release a pleasant, lemony fragrance when crushed. Sniffing the bruised leaves is refreshing and therapeutic in itself! It is traditionally consumed to treat the nervous system as a nervine. Lemon Balm not only helps relieve stress but also soothes digestive issues that many perimenopausal women start to experience, such as upset stomachs, relieves gas, and helps regulate bowel movements.
Chlorophyll -I can't say enough about Chlorophyll! Hemoglobin (human red blood cells) and Chlorophyll have similar cellular structures. The main difference is that hemoglobin is built around iron (Fe), whereas Chlorophyll is built around magnesium (Mg). The primary function of hemoglobin is to transport oxygen from the lungs to other body parts. Hemoglobin comprises four elements- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. All four are organized around iron. Chlorophyll is composed of the same elements, which are organized around magnesium. Chlorophyll helps do the job of hemoglobin when ingested. Chlorophyll promotes healthy circulation, cleanses the body, increases the number of red blood cells, and increases oxygen throughout the body. In other words, Chlorophyll helps build hemoglobin. This is precisely what depleted and anemic perimenopausal women need. Chlorophyll can aid with stimulating the immune system, reduce candida fungus in the body, and improve symptoms of anemia. It's ideal to maintain healthy iron levels or for those feeling exhausted and depleted.
Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba may enhance cognitive function and memory, which can be affected during perimenopause. Historically, herbalists thought it helped memory because it improves blood flow to the brain. Now, research suggests it may also protect nerve cells that are damaged in Alzheimer's disease.
Passion Flower (Passiflora): A stunning botanical, this whimsical looking flower is full of healing. For many centuries, the Native Americans of North America had a special relationship with Passion Flower, typically harvesting the leaves and flowers to make teas and tinctures for insomnia. To this day, we still turn to Passion Flower when faced with trouble sleeping or anxiety. As a perimenopausal woman, you know firsthand that changes in your sleep are one of the most obvious changes that you are navigating.
Remember, perimenopause is a natural part of a woman's cycle and can be celebrated as a time for turning inward and deepening your connection to your heart/womb. Many cultures around the world honor this time as a sacred rite of passage. In TCM and Qigong's theory, they have a very positive and nourishing perspective about perimenopause.
Obviously, many more herbs can be added to this list, and it is essential to consult with a qualified herbalist and buy herbs from reputable herbal companies before using herbs as a form of treatment for perimenopausal symptoms. They can guide appropriate dosages and potential interactions with medications and monitor your progress to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Herbal remedies are one piece of the picture. Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercises like Qigong provide many health benefits and stress management, which are foundational components to a holistic and healthy life during perimenopause.
It is my sincere hope that this served you as a resource, keeping you connected to your power as you navigate the changes of perimenopause naturally.