We are daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. Our wombs are powerful centers of creativity when in balance yet can be just as powerfully disturbing when in pain and out of balance. The health of our bodies is intimately linked to our relationship with the cycles of the Moon, seasons of the Earth, and reclaiming our ancient heritage of being healers. Whether or not herbs are a part of your daily life, the DNA of a woman’s body holds the memory of loving the green beings of this Earth and following their teachings to support, sustain, and nurture every stage of our womanhood from maiden to mother to crone. By healing ourselves we heal the Earth as our tread upon her skin becomes more ginger, caring, and attuned. So please, attend to yourselves with love, compassion, and patience – you’re worth every minute of it. May these remedies be reminders of familiar and treasured
allies, or perhaps the first steps of healing a troubled womb. Our biology reminds us that we are not separate from the rhythms of Earth but hold them in our very bodies.
FOR THE MAIDEN
Two very important categories of herbs for supporting the health of a female reproductive system are the uterine tonics and the hormonal balancers.
A. Uterine Tonics – tone and strengthen the whole system by nourishing the organs. These are used for restoring vitality and balance.
· Examples include: black cohosh, raspberry leaf, dong qui, squaw vine (partridgeberry), motherwort, strawberry leaf, nettle, comfrey, and vitex (chaste berry)
B. Hormonal Balancers – help normalize the functions of the endocrine glands, thus support proper function of the reproductive system.
· Balance estrogen and progesterone activity – useful in all aspects of menstrual dysfunction
· Are hormone precursors and facilitate other organs to produce necessary balance of hormones
· Examples include: wild yam root, licorice root, vitex, dong qui
Aside from these wonderful allies, careful attention to the liver is imperative to a healthy reproductive system. Among its many roles the liver works to deactivate and balance hormones like estrogens and steroids, thus when this organ is lagging and sluggish women will often feel the repercussions in terms of excessive PMS symptoms and menstrual difficulties. Thus, in cases of dysmenorrhea (painful and/or cramping menstruation) or menorrhagia (excessive menstruation) the liver is commonly supported with herbs like burdock, dandelion root, sassafras, and yellow dock.
A delicious tonic formula that incorporates all of the above: decoct on a low simmer for 20min 4Tbs of herb per quart. Strain, bottle, and drink the quart through the day. (sample at meeting)
o 2 part dandelion root
o 2 pt burdock root
o 2 pt licorice
o 1 pt sassafras
o 1 pt wild yam root
o 1 pt pau d’arco
o ¼ pt vitex
o ¼ pt orange peel
o 1 cinnamon stick
Another point worth mentioning is the Superwoman Syndrome. Sometimes recurrent reproductive imbalances stem from an underlying determination to be everything for everyone. We as women are asked to wear a thousand and one masks. An impossible task and the body eventually bears the brutal cost of it. We are accomplishing more than ever, and consequently feeling drained and disconnected more than ever. The womb is the center of creation, creativity, and nourishment. When these are missing, the body wisely reflects problems in this appropriate area. Evaluate seriously and deeply the level of stress in your lifestyle. Sometimes the best and simplest remedy might be to slow down just a bit. You might get one less (or five less) things checked off your list. You might lose the title of superwoman. But getting that extra sleep, nature time, or quiet reflection might gain you your power and health back.
FOR THE MOTHER
It can be a magical thing to participate in nature’s fecundity when women go through pregnancy and step into motherhood. Yet this can also be a time of many unique challenges both physical and emotional. Plants know of fertility, being so full of the instinct to reproduce and spread. It is wise for the expectant and/or recent mother to lean on their support and nourishment for herself and the child.
Some of the most nutrient and mineral dense herbs are also wonderfully gentle and safe for the pregnant mother. Raspberry leaf in particular has had a long history of being the herb supreme throughout pregnancy, to prevent miscarriage, and facilitate a healthy delivery.
· Highly nutritive reproductive tonic that acts to tone and strengthen the entire genitourinary system
· Great source of iron – for low energy levels
· Richest source of niacin and manganese – for production of connective tissue like bone and cartilage
A lovely and delicious supportive pregnancy blend that relies on raspberry leaf for the above reasons: 4Tbs of herb per quart of freshly boiled water. Cover and steep for 20min. Strain, bottle, and drink the quart through the day.
· 3pt raspberry leaf
· 2pt strawberry leaf
· 2pt nettle
· 2pt chamomile
· 2pt oatstraw
· 2pt peppermint and/or spearmint
A quick note on abortifacient actions: it is good to know the herbs that are best given a wide berth during pregnancy unless the woman is closely working with an experienced herbalist and midwife. These classically include – pennyroyal, golden seal, tansy, mistletoe, blue cohash, yarrow, and rue.