Plant medicine for your life stage
Hormones play a large role in everyone's lives, but can particularly influence women, and imbalances can affect so many aspects of life:
Plant medicine is incredibly versatile – it can be adapted to any time of life, from puberty through to menopause. Here are a few of the plants I find particularly helpful in supporting normal hormone function and life stage changes.
Chaste Tree Berry is a medicinal plant that works on the female body by stimulating and balancing the function of the pituitary gland, which plays a crucial role in regulating vital body functions. Its progesterone-like action supports hormonal balance for normal menstruation and to prevent PMT. We are seeing an increase in estrogen dominant conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. In conditions like this, the high estrogen to progesterone ratio can lead to symptoms such as irregular periods, low mood, anxiety and fertility issues. Chaste tree berry is a specific remedy to help rebalance hormones in these conditions.
Lady’s Mantle supports regular cycles, especially when taken together with Yarrow. As an added bonus, it helps maintain a healthy endometrium. It is a beneficial and nourishing plant for all women. Yarrow contains sterols, which support hormonal balance and a regular menstrual cycle. It supports normal periods as well as the healthy functioning of the uterus. Women who are struggling with irregular periods may benefit from taking a plant medicine formula daily that supports hormonal balance.
St. Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Dandelion root are scientifically proven to help maintain healthy liver function. Liver health is a crucial part of hormone management as excess estrogen needs to be cleared by the liver. Incorporating daily bitter herbs supports the detoxification pathways and hormone clearance. In traditional medicine, liver herbs in the form of a medicinal tea are taken before breakfast and repeated before lunch and dinner for optimal detoxification.
Pregnancy is another time in a woman's life when plant medicine can help and support the female body through changes. Nettle is a great plant to incorporate as it is high in minerals and provides plant-based iron. Raspberry leaf is well known for its ability to help support the body for childbirth, by providing nourishment and strength to the uterus muscle. Raspberry leaf can also be taken post childbirth to help with uterine recovery and to encourage breast milk supply.
Life at all stages can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. Lemon Balm, Passionflower and St John's Wort strengthen nervous resilience and help to support mood. They have also been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety when taken regularly. Licorice has a great affinity to the adrenal glands as it’s an adaptogen – helping us adjust to physical, mental and emotional stressors.
Peri-menopause and menopause can be a challenging time. The decline in estrogen brings back irregular periods, mood and sleep disturbances and often anxiety. Hops and Passionflower strengthen and calm the nervous system, while Hops contains phytoestrogens, which help with hormone and temperature regulation. Motherwort has documented use spanning over 2,000 years as a nerve-soothing plant. It’s particularly effective in calming heart palpitations and in aiding restful sleep.
One of the most common plants recommended for menopause support is Sage. It is well documented for supporting temperature balance during excessive sweating – a typical feature of peri-menopause. Traditionally, it’s also been used to help with mental clarity and focus – all concerns that can surface in peri-menopause and menopause.
Plant medicine is a powerful tool to support every aspect of a woman's life. It is both effective in proactively maintaining good health and as a first port of call when troubles or symptoms surface. I recommend incorporating medicinal teas or tonics into a daily routine as part of your self-care regimen for proactive health, as well as using them when troubles or symptoms surface.
This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice. For any concerns, consult your health professional.
Sandra is a health scientist, registered medical herbalist, and founder of plant medicine company Artemis.