Agnus castus (chaste berry) is commonly used to relieve menstrual problems and to relieve symptoms of the menopause. [Photo: Bigstock]

Herbal relief: Women’s health

26 August, 2015

Herbs can help treat a range of discomforts and health problems that women experience throughout their lives.

Herbal teas, tincture and supplements can be used to alleviate menstrual problems like  painful or heavy periods and premenstrual syndrome. They have been traditionally used for boosting fertility, vaginal infections and menopausal symptoms.

For persistent problems, always consult an experienced herbalist. This chart is not comprehensive, but it does contain the key herbs for women’s health. Do not use the herbs listed during pregnancy without checking their appropriateness with a qualified professional.

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora)

An astringent herb that is a menstrual regulator. Use to relieve heavy and painful periods: combine with shepherd’s purse and raspberry leaf and drink as an infusion three times a day. Or use a cooled infusion as a douche for vaginal inflammation, thrush, or pruritis.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

A soothing and antispasmodic herb with a multitude of uses. As an infusion or tincture, it can help to relieve painful periods and alleviate stress. A cooled infusion or diluted essential oil can be used externally to relieve vaginal itching or irritation.

Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus)

An astringent and toning herb with a special affinity for the uterus. Drink as an infusion to relieve heavy or painful periods.

Chaste berry (Vitex agnus-castus)

A hormonal regulator used in the treatment of an irregular menstrual cycle, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and to relieve symptoms of the menopause. It is often used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Most often used as a tincture.

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

An effective antidepressant herb, proven to relieve symptoms of mild or moderate depression. Also important for anxiety and stress, it can be helpful for premenstrual syndrome and emotional problems arising during the menopause.

Rose (Rosa x damascene)

A soothing, uplifting, and balancing herb and essential oil. Take as an infusion combined with motherwort for stress or headaches associated with premenstrual syndrome or the menopause. Use a cooled infusion or essential oil to soothe vaginal dryness and irritation.

Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis)

An essential women’s tonic herb of traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese angelica is taken to increase vitality and libido, treat infertility, regulate periods, and for anaemia due to blood loss. Take as a tincture or add to soups.

Schisandra (Shisandra chinensis)

An excellent Chinese tonic herb and restorative. It is helpful for night sweats and as a tonic to support the body through menopause. It also helps to improve stamina, fatigue, and physical stress. Best taken as a tincture.

Black cohosh (Actaea racemose)

A North American herb traditionally used for gynaecological complaints. It helps to relieve pain and is used for painful periods and the bloating and discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome. Combine with sage to relieve menopausal symptoms.

Vervain (Verbena officinale)

An antispasmodic herb that helps to relieve pain, stress, and tension. Use for headaches associated with periods or during the menopause, premenstrual syndrome, scanty periods, and nervous exhaustion. Best taken as an infusion or tincture.