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I must admit that I thought I was done with this topic. It seems I could probably fill a book with information on making this time of the month more comfortable, using natural methods. We've discussed before, the use of my salve, Aunt Flo's Soothing Salve, but today I am going to share my other natural savior from debilitating period pain, in the disguise of an herbal tea (or tincture if you that's how you roll!).
You're health dictates the severity of your symptoms
Throughout the month, the vitamins and minerals that your body acquires through food and drink, are used to regulate your hormones as well as make all the other vital functions, in your body, function properly. Loading your body up with those essential vitamins and minerals before and during your period can really affect how healthy your menstruation is. I have endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. One of the key factors in healing my womb from these issues was changing my diet. Once I got rid of all of the highly processed foods and switched over to as much organic as possible, I noticed something happening that I had NEVER had happen. The first thing I noticed after changing my diet; my period began coming ON TIME. This was my first clue that the changes I had been making, were really starting to make a difference. I have never had a predictable period. EVER. The second clue was months later, my periods began to regulate and I realized since I had changed my way of life and eating habits, I had no longer suffered cysts bursting or any of my endometriosis symptoms. According to Valerie Ann Worwood in The Endometriosis Natural Treatment Plan,where she prescribes clean eating habits as part of the diet plan:
“The endometriosis eating plan has nothing to do with fatness or thinness, nothing to do with weight. The diet is about reducing our intake of toxins – synthetic chemicals used in growing fruit and vegetable, and an array of antibiotics, hormones, and even metals injected into animals grown for meat.”
By making a conscious effort to remove these things from my family's diet, my feminine health has drastically improved and my pain has decreased.
Most conventional feminine products contain toxic chemicals
It took my body several months to start feeling better after I changed what I used during my period. I used to be an avid tampon user, but unbeknownst to me, most conventional tampons and pads are made with bleached rayon, cotton, and plastics that leeches toxic chemicals into your body through your vaginal walls. It took me YEARS to realize why my periods were so intensely painful. They were always the worst when I used tampons, and I literally curled up crying in my bed for at least a day or two, because the pain was so unbearable. After I began using more eco-friendly and natural options, my period has not been the same. It took about 3 cycles for the toxins to completely cycle out of my body and for me to not to feel as pained as I once did.
Herbs that are known to help with cramps, bloating, frazzled nerves, and more
There are many herbs that can help with the many different symptoms that PMS brings about. Some of these herbs can help with cramps and pain, while others can help with bloating and frazzled nerves! You can tailor your tea/tincture to your own needs since none of us are exactly the same.
- Black cohosh – Used for centuries by native Americans for women's issues, black cohosh is reputed for use with menstrual cramps, PMS discomfort, and menopause.
- Chamomile flowers – A natural anti-inflammatory that has been clinically studied for its use in pain relief, chamomile contains glycine, a chemical that can help relieve muscle spasms and act as a nerve relaxant.
- Vitex (aka Chaste Berry) – Chasteberry is the most often recommended herb in Europe, for relieving symptoms of PMS, menstrual cramps, breast tenderness, breast pain, and even Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Can be taken in tincture form, tea form, as well as capsules. Don't take chasteberry if you take hormone replacement medications and oral contraceptives.
- Cramp Bark – Appropriately named, cramp bark is known to contain yiopudial, a chemical that is supposed to provide cramp relief. It has been used as a sedative for the uterus as well as for PMS and menstrual cramping, it is also very effective for post-postpartum spasms and pain, and can even help prevent postpartum hemorrhaging.
- Dandelion leaf – During the pre-stages of your period, water weight and bloating can be a problem for most women, dandelion leaf is a natural diuretic and was used by native Americans relieving menstrual cramps. Though rare, some who are allergic to ragweed can have an allergic reaction to dandelion.
- Ginger root – Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, one clinical study showed ginger as capable of relieving menstrual cramps as ibuprofen. This tasty root has many anti-inflammatory and warming properties, I rarely leave ginger out of my Aunt Flo's tea, it's just too awesome!
- Nettle leaf – A well-known uterine tonic, nettle is rich in Vitamins A, C, D, and K, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and sulfur. This vitamin rich herb is great at helping to diminish uterine pain.
- Passionflower – A natural pain reliever and mild sedative, passionflower works well to relieve muscle and uterine spasms, relieve stress and depression, and calm nerves. I also use this in my good night sleep tea and tincture.
- Peppermint leaf – A natural digestive aid, peppermint usually finds its way into my teas for its tasty flavor and to help relieve nausea, bloating, and indigestion.
- Raspberry leaf – Great for women of all ages, raspberry leaf has been used for centuries as a uterine tonic. Rich in Vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and E, it can help with anxiety, reduce spasms, and relax stomach muscles, and soothe stomachaches. This is a great base herb to any tea for feminine issues. This is a great herb to drink all throughout pregnancy to tone the uterine walls for an easier delivery.
- St. John's wort – Numerous studies have been done on the effectiveness of St. John's wort with depression. One study found it as effective as conventional antidepressants. Some find depression a normal part of their period, and St. John's wort can be effective at relieving the Aunt Flo's Blues. Not to replace your normal antidepressants, do not take with other antidepressants.
- Valerian root – A natural sleep aid but also a great natural pain reliever, valerian root has been used for centuries for pain relief, anxiety, and stress relief.
- Willow bark –Rich in salicin, the active chemical constituent in aspirin, willow bark is great for all sorts of pain, muscle spasms, and headaches. I always find cramp relief when I add willow bark to my tea or tincture. People who are allergic to aspirin or salicylates should not take white willow bark. Those with tinnitus, peptic ulcers, or bleeding disorders also should not use it.
Aunt Flo's Cramps-B-Gone Tea & Tincture
Drinking this as just a tea (along with using my Aunt Flo's Soothing Salve and a heated Flax Relax bean bag) has helped me to completely rid my medicine cabinet of Midol. Just drinking this the first day of my period makes for a better 7 days. I have found that now, after time, I only need it on my first day for pain. For an even yummier flavor in your tea, add a pinch of cinnamon chips or peppermint leaf to your herbal mixture.
- 2 parts raspberry leaf
- 1 part ginger root
- 1 part cramp bark
- 1 part willow bark
- 1 part passionflower
- 1/2 part valerian root
- Combine herbs together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container when not in use. Label blend and date made.
TO USE – TEA
Combine 1 Tbsp. herb mixture to 10-12 oz. boiling hot water. Allow to steep for 5-15 minutes before straining and drinking. The longer you steep the tea, the more potent it will be. Drink at the onset of pain and whenever needed, throughout your menstruation.
TO USE – TINCTURE
Following the directions here to make tinctures, fill a wide-mouthed mason jar 1/3 full with dried herbal mixture. Fill mason jar to the top, covering herbs, with 80-100 proof vodka. Allow to steep in the jar for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily to mix. Strain tincture using a cheesecloth or strainer. At the sudden onset of cramps and pain, take 1 tsp. of the tincture every 30 minutes until symptoms subside. You can make this with vegetable glycerin (a sweet tasting option that is great for children but doesn't have as long of a shelf life as alcohol), or even apple cider vinegar. Tinctures made with alcohol are the most effective.
Not for use if you are pregnant. Some herbs in this recipe have been known to cause complications during pregnancy.
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