For centuries, herbal allies and plant medicine has been used for healing everything from common ailments like an upset stomach, all the way through to serious illnesses like cancer. And while herbs have an incredible way of working with our body’s chemistry, equally as important is the way the plant was harvested, the intention that we are working with both when cultivating and eventually taking that plant. A herbalist’s medicine isn’t just the herbs, but also his or her intention.
*Important The Feminine Code and its authors are not certified medicinal herbalists or doctors, so be sure to check in with your own healthcare practitioner before taking any recommendations here. That being said, it is equally as important to listen to your own body and how it receives each herb or plant - they can respond differently depending on your own chemistry.
Before we dive into the different herbs you can use during your menstrual phase, if would like to learn more about your cycle and the different phases, you can click here to read an article focusing on this.
When you get started with herbs, or herbalism in general, it is important to remember that herbs work on a long-term basis, meaning it’s important to keep using them regularly so that your body gets used to the medicine from that plant. Building it up in your body over weeks, or even months is where you will start to feel the effects and benefits.
When it comes to the menstrual phase, herbs and plants that can help alleviate symptoms such as cramping and inflammation are key. These are five of our favourite herbs to use during your menstrual phase, to help you ground in your body and reduce hormonal-related pain.
Rose Flower and Rosehip (Rose Fruit)
Rose is such a powerful plant, she holds so many potent properties and has been used all over the world for generations as a healing plant, as well as heart opening. For women's health, Rose has been used as a regulator of pain and menstrual cramping. Both Rose and Rosehip can be used to relax the body and soften the heart.
One of the greatest topical helpers in the herbal realm is Clary Sage, which is anti-spasmadic, so it’s great for helping with cramping. You can, during your menstrual cycle, rub several drops of Clary Sage essential oil on your abdomen to help soothe pain.
Angelica Sinensis (Dong quai)
Angelica root has been used for centuries for women’s health as it has been shown to actually relax the uterus and calm cramping. It is one of the most effective herbs when it comes to calming down the stagnation in the uterus and helps the blood flow with more ease. Note, that it can act as an estrogen so if you have any issues that can be worsened by estrogen, this one might not be for you.
Lavender is well known all over the world for it’s relaxation and calming properties and is helpful in stress reduction, as well as muscle relaxation. During your bleeding phase Lavender can bring a soft calming sensation through the body and bring deep calm to the self to move through these days with less anxiety and tension in the body.
Nettle is found almost everywhere and has been used all around the world for centuries. Nettle packed with minerals and is great at reducing inflammation. It also is filled with iron, which is essential for the blood’s regeneration during the bleeding phase. Nettle can be used to remineralize and tonify the organs, especially the kidneys and adrenals glands, helping to calm the stress that the body may hold.
Herbs and plants alike have a plethora of healing properties, and many herbs can be used for multiple uses (most, actually). Depending on how you use them (i.e. tincture, infusion, eating, capsules, and topically), they can have different impacts on different parts of the body.
An easy way to start working with some herbs is to see which are appropriate for infusing to make a herbal tea. For herbs that are appropriate for drinking, you can steep 1 TSP to several TBS of dried plants (you can even make a blend with Nettle, Lavender & Rose). Depending on your preference, it is a great way for the body to absorb the properties of each of the plants. You can let your herbs steep for 5-10 min, keeping in mind that the longer you let it steep, the more the water will be enhanced in taste as well as its nutritious plant properties.
If you’re just starting out with herbs, you can also soak in a bath with them. Soaking your body in hot water is another great way to relax the body, and if you don’t have a bath tub you can find a small bucket and just do a foot soak. Using salt baths (including Epsom salt) and some herbs, you can create a very relieving sensation for any cramping or pain.
Try mixing 1 - 2 cups of salt with several tablespoons of your favourite herbs. Add them to your bath and let steep for a few minutes before getting in. You can make the experience enhanced by adding pure essential oils that help with pain and cramping, as well as crystals, music, or candles to help the body relax completely.
Your menstrual phase, especially the first few days, is likely a time you have less energy. Take this time to rest while your body is shedding what it no longer needs and enjoy this phase, by deep diving into reflection and your intuition. It can be a truly magical time when it is embraced.