The menstrual cycle can be overwhelming each and every month unless we learn more about how to identify each phase and understand and how to support it. If you start tracking your cycle through and app or calendar you'll start to notice little shifts in your cycle, the way you feel, and get better aquainted with each moment. The following is a guide to each phase and how we may look to herbs for menstrual support all month long.
The menstrual cycle is divided into two phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. Within them are two additional phases: menstruation and ovulation.
Days 1- 14
Each phase consists of different hormone changes and these occure naturally. The regularity of our menstrual cycles may tell us a lot about the health of our hormones and the health of our bodies overall.
There's a chance that our hormones are imbalanced when our cycles are irregular and using supportive herbs is a great way to help rebalance the system and create harmony within.
Follicular Phase - This is the phase in which our bodies prepare for a potential pregnancy. There’s a steady increase of follicle stimulating hormone & increased estrogen, which causes luteinizing hormone (LH) levels to go up dramatically.
Ovulation - Occurs halfway through the average cycle, begins with the release of at least one mature egg. It’s a 1-2 day window when we are most fertile and when we experience a peak in estrogen, LH, and LSF.
Luteal - Begins right after ovulation & is the breaking down of an unfertilized egg, decreased levels of estrogen, & a spike in progesterone levels. This abrupt change in hormones is what can lead to intense feelings and symptoms.
Menstruation- The beginning of a cycle and is the easiest phase to recognize. The uterine lining begins to shed, resulting in bleeding. This is a result of decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Herbs For Menstrual Support
Nettle: High in iron to support blood loss & remineralize the body.
Licorice: Licorice Root supports healthy estrogen levels. It supports adrenal hormones and it’s very nourishing.
Oatstraw: Helps ease the effects of a menstrual cycle and for relieving cramps and bloating.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon contains a natural chemical called cinnamaldehyde, which studies show increases the hormone progesterone and decreases testosterone production in women, helping to balance hormones. Cinnamon can also help with fertility.
Red raspberry: A uterine tonic, it relieves cramping and pain.
Astralagus: An adaptogen that helps improve the regularity of menstrual cycles, a rich source of inositol compounds. The consumption of inositol-rich herbs may support healthy fertility. This can also be used as a formula for uterine fibroid support, as well as in supportive formulas for acute pelvic inflammatory disease.
Lemongrass: Lemongrass is a natural sedative and produces a calming effect that can ease cramps and pain during menstruation. Contains myrcene as an analgesic, citronellol, and is also an antibacterial and antiseptic. Lemongrass also acts as a mood enhancer an d reduces the discomfort due to heavy bleeding or cramps.
Ginger: Warms the body, helps clear gas and bloating, supports digestion & detoxification.
Vitex: Helps to lengthen the luteal phase. This is important as a short luteal phase can be indicative of conception issues in the future (or currently if you’re trying to conceive), boosts progesterone levels.
Liver, Fiber, Yoni
Liver health is vital for proper hormone balance and menstrual health. The liver is responsible for processing and secreting hormones from the body, and it can become clogged if there is an excess.
Fiber intake can help balance blood sugar levels and reduce cortisol levels, lowering the burden of stress in the body. In addition, fiber promotes digestive regularity, reducing constipation related to PMS. Ensure you’re getting 35 to 40 grams of insoluble fiber per day.
Yoni steaming can help improve stagnation and remove old residue in the vaginal canal and womb space. If blood from the previous menstrual cycle has not been properly removed and cleansed, the body identifies it as a foreign substance. This activates muscles in the abdomen to attempt to push it out of the body. This muscle contracting action results in painful cramps. Doing vaginal steams can assist the body with cleansing the uterus, speed up blood flow, and improve circulation, which enhances the body’s own cleansing mechanisms.
*Do not steam during your period, after ovulation if you are trying to get pregnant, or if there is excess heat in the body due to fever, hot flashes, or night sweats.
Create a healthier relationship between you and your cycles.