Herbs For Health Series- Part 3 | Top Herbs For Women’s Health
The material in this post is for informational/educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please see a qualified health professional for specific health concerns. Herbal remedies are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
Women have a lot to deal with when it comes to health. Changing hormones, PMS, fertility and pregnancy, menopause- these are all different life-stages and challenges that many women deal with.
When it comes to women’s health, using herbs is a wonderful way to naturally support the female body. Herbs don’t have any synthetic hormones, chemicals, or a multitude of side effects.
Because there are so many different aspects of health for women, I decided to pick herbs that are most supportive for different stages of life.
Red raspberry leaf and nettle are great all-around herbs for women. Red clover is especially supportive during menopause. And ashwagandha is a powerful herb that helps us deal with stress (something I think all women need!).
Read on to learn more about each herb, its benefits, and how to use each one.
Red Raspberry: All-Star for Women’s Health
According to the Bulk Herb Store, red raspberry leaf is “the queen of herbs for women’s health.” What makes it so great?
Red raspberry leaf is full of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. The calcium and iron found in the leaf are easily assimilated- something that can’t be said for calcium and iron found in many supplements.
The vitamins and minerals found in red raspberry are especially powerful for strengthening the uterus before and during pregnancy. When consumed regularly, red raspberry leaf may also help with PMS symptoms and support healthy hormone levels.
There’s much more that could be said, but the main point is that red raspberry is one of the most supportive herbs for women’s health at any stage of life.
Ways to use red raspberry leaf:
- One of the best ways to use red raspberry is by making a tea with the leaves. It can be used on its own or added to an herbal blend. Use about 1-3 teaspoons of the dried herb for each cup of hot water. Or use fresh leaves if you can get them.
- Red raspberry leaf can also be used in capsules if ground up.
- The most important thing to keep in mind when buying and using red raspberry leaf is that its potency will depend on how it’s grown. Many raspberry bushes are grown using conventional methods. This means that the leaves can potentially contain pesticide residues that are harmful to our health. Be sure to buy raspberry leaf from a trusted, high-quality supplier (unless you plan on growing it yourself). I get mine from the Bulk Herb Store.
Final notes: I couldn’t find any side effects listed for red raspberry. It is a gentle, pleasant herb and good for children as well. Always be sure to pay attention to how you react to any herb.
Nettle: Green Superstar
Like red raspberry leaf, nettle is packed full of vitamins and minerals that support the female body. It contains calcium, iron, potassium, protein, and beta-carotene to name a few.
The nutrients found in nettle can benefit anyone who is low on energy and feeling rundown. But as far as women’s health goes, nettle has traditionally been used as one of the herbs to help with PMS symptoms, fertility issues, and to support the body through menopause.
Nettle is considered to be a good overall herb for the female reproductive system. As a bonus, it’s also a very cleansing herb.
Ways to use nettle:
- Nettle leaf is often used in tea– by itself or with others herbs. Nettle does have a distinct taste (which I happen to like). If the flavor isn’t your favorite, it can be combined with herbs like peppermint or red raspberry leaf. As with any other dried herb, be sure to buy from a quality seller.
- Nettle is also a food. It can be grown in a garden or harvested fresh in the wild. Nettle likes growing in shaded spots, especially near water. (Just be sure to wear gloves when harvesting!!) You can steam nettle and season it with olive oil and lemon juice. Or it can be served in a soup or casserole.
- Dried nettle can also be sprinkled on top of food to add nutrients.
Final notes: Nettle is also a benevolent herb and very safe to use but be very careful when picking fresh nettle. Also known also stinging nettle, this herb has little ‘needles’ on the stem and underneath the leaves. These stingers contain formic acid and will leave a rash on your skin that stings. Heating, drying, or mashing the leaves will get rid of the formic acid. (Ironically, the juice from nettle is actually an antidote to the sting when applied to the affected area.)
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Red Clover: Support for Menopause
Red clover is another of the herbs often recommended for women’s health.
Red clover is a lovely plant with pink blossoms that bloom throughout the summer. It can be used as a ground cover in the garden or by farmers to add nitrogen into the soil.
It’s also another nutrient-rich herb that is used by herbalists for a variety of reasons. Red clover is especially useful for helping with several symptoms that come up during menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
The reason it’s so beneficial during menopause is because red clover contains both isoflavones and phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant hormones and can help reduce some menopausal symptoms. The range of vitamins and minerals present in red clover are beneficial for women at any stage of life.
Ways to use red clover:
- The blossoms of red clover are the most potent part of the plant, but the leaves are also used. Probably the best way to get the most out of red clover is to use it fresh. It’s an easy plant to grow and will grow quickly. The blossoms can be eaten straight from the plant (as long as nothing has been sprayed on them), added to salads, or used to make tea. Harvest the blossoms when they are bright red or pink- not brown.
- Red clover is also available dried and in tea mixes from different companies. It might not be as potent in the dried form but will still be beneficial.
Final notes: Red clover does have blood-thinning properties. Do not use if you are taking heart medication or have any blood-thinning problem. Also, be sure to discontinue red clover 2 weeks before and after any surgery.
Ashwagandha: Adapts to Your Needs
Ashwagandha is what is known as an adaptogenic herb. While not everyone has heard of it, ashwagandha has definitely made its entrance into the western world. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, people all over the world have started to discover the benefits of this herb.
Adaptogenic herbs have unique properties that allow them to adapt to the body’s needs. Ashwagandha, for example, has both energizing and sleep-inducing properties, and its effect will vary depending on what the person taking it needs.
Adaptogens also help the body to deal with stress, whether it comes from the environment or internally.
Ashwagandha can help women have more energy and vitality while also promoting a calm and restful sleep at night. And it also helps our bodies resist and deal with stress. Sounds great, right?
Ways to use ashwagandha:
- Ashwagandha is most often used in powder form, which is ground up from the root of the plant. It can be mixed with milk, cinnamon, and honey and gently heated for a relaxing drink in the evening. (Use 1 cup milk, 1 tsp. ashwagandha, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and honey to taste.) Or it can be mixed with warm water and taken morning or evening, depending on whether you want energy or help sleeping.
- I don’t mind the taste of ashwagandha when mixed with milk and cinnamon, but it’s not my favorite. I usually put the powder in capsules and take them with a full glass of water.
- Ashwagandha is also available in tablet form and as a liquid extract from places like Banyan Botanicals. Take it daily for the best results.
Final notes: Ashwagandha is a safe herb but should be avoided during pregnancy. Ashwagandha is typically sourced from outside the U.S. Be sure to buy from a trusted source that tests for possible contaminants.
Support Your Body, Boost Your Health
Red raspberry leaf, nettle, red clover, and ashwagandha all work in different ways, but all of these herbs can be beneficial for women’s health.
- Red raspberry leaf and nettle contain easily assimilated calcium and iron, along with other nutrients, and can help with PMS, fertility, and overall health.
- Red clover is especially beneficial for women going through menopause. It can help with symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.
- Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that can support the female body through any stage of life and helps our bodies deal with stress.
Using any or all of these herbs can be really beneficial for women of all ages. (And most of them will actually benefit men, too!)
Stay tuned for the next post in this series about herbs for your health. I’m off to drink a cup of raspberry-nettle tea!
Sources: Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar. Storey Publishing. Copyright 2012.
Banyan Botanicals: Adaptogenic Herbs