Herbs are a beautiful complement to help women gracefully move through life’s different stages.  Along with food and mindfulness, herbs can be safe, effective and powerful support for your health.

The herbs discussed here support women’s health through the challenges that come at different times of the month, the year, and throughout life. While herbs can be highly beneficial for pregnant and nursing mothers, that’s not the focus of this post, and not all herbs discussed here are appropriate for mothers or mothers to-be. Please do your own research.

The following are some of the most powerful herbal allies to support a woman’s health over the course of her lifetime.

Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
One of the most effective herbs for support healthy hormone levels in women is vitex, or chaste berry. It supports the healthy production of progesterone and luteinizing hormone, both of which are necessary for ovulation and regulating menstruation cycles. Vitex can help soothe PMS symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, cravings, and skin eruptions. It can help with irregular cycles. Vitex may also support women struggling with PCOS and infertility.

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Wild Yam has a long history of use in supporting women’s reproductive health. Contrary to common belief, wild yam does not contain estrogen or progesterone, and it cannot be biologically converted to active hormones in the body. However, wild yam does contain various phytochemicals that support healthy hormone levels. It has been found that healthy gut flora make it even more effective.

Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) & Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium)
Two herbs which are helpful for women during menses are cramp bark and black haw. These herbs have similar actions in the body and are used to soothe the occasional discomfort associated with menstrual cycles. Cramp bark also has a history of use for discomforts associated with endometriosis and miscarriage.

Black cohosh (Actea racemosa)
Black cohosh supports a healthy endocrine system and hormonal cycles throughout a woman’s life. It has a long history of use with menopausal women to soothe hot flashes, sweats, and the effects of declining estrogen. It is also used to support a healthy inflammatory response.

Additionally, there are other herbs which can support healthy hormones and moods in women. For liver support and proper elimination of hormones, burdock root (Arctium lappa) and dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) are great considerations. For emotional support, particularly during menstruation, beneficial herbs include skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), blue vervain (Verbena hastata), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), and St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Finally, adaptogens, such as eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), can be be used as tonics to support healthy mood, hormones, sleep, and immune function.

No matter the life stage, herbs can be highly effective in supporting women’s optimal health and vitality.

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Writer Katie Gerber is a holistic health and nutrition coach serving clients locally in the front range as well as online. In 2014, she completed Aviva Romm’s Herbal Medicine for Women certification. After thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 and the Colorado Trail in 2016, Katie decided to use her botanical medicine and nutrition knowledge to help fellow wilderness lovers seeking more energy and better health. She transitioned from her career as a pastry chef, and enrolled in the Institute for Transformational Nutrition. She now uses her lifelong passion for holistic health with her background in the culinary arts to help people live healthier lives, in alignment with nature. Katie writes for several publications and speaks at local events. When she’s not writing and working with clients, you’ll most likely find her in the mountains, in the garden, or in the kitchen testing recipes. Find out more about Katie, her articles, and her adventures at her website.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.