Herbs are an essential tool for your menopause toolkit.
Many can be made into a delicious hot or cold infusion, or added to your food.
Some herbs are best used in tincture form, while others are most effective when taken as capsules, infusions, teas or pills.
Herbs can work quickly, or may take several weeks to produce their maximum effect, so be persistent and consistent. It may be helpful to develop the habit of enjoying a cup of your chosen herbal infusion before bed and on an empty stomach every morning. That way you won’t forget to take your remedy and you can use a milder, less frequent dose to ward off problems once your current menopause challenges are under control.
How to choose the herb that’s right for you
If you have more than one bothersome menopause sign, consult with a qualified practitioner to choose the herb, or combination of herbs, that can address all or most of them. If you have many menopause challenges, you may decide to choose herbs proven to alleviate many menopause challenges such as dong quai, vitex, mistletoe or seaweed.
Herbs that are effective for menopause challenges include: black cohosh, chamomile, dong quai, hops, lady’s mantle, lavender, lemonbalm, licorice root, milk thistle seed, mistletoe, motherwort, red raspberry leaves, sage, seaweed, shepherd’s purse, vitex, walnut leaves, yarrow, and many others.
A qualified practitioner can help you select the herbs that will work best for your unique circumstances and tell you how to use them.
How to Prepare an Herbal Infusion
1-2 tsp dried herb or herb blend (1-2 tbsp fresh herb) per cup. Pour just-boiled water over herbs, cover and steep 10 to 15 minutes for medicinal effects, or steep 5 minutes for a pleasurable cup of herbal tea or as a ‘preventive dose’. Enjoy 1 to 3 times daily – hot or cold – depending on the severity of your condition.
If your infusion isn’t sweet enough for your taste, or is bitter, do not add sugar. Use a small amount of honey or agave syrup instead. You can also experiment with adding ½ tsp dried licorice root or 1 tsp dried peppermint or lemonbalm to your chosen medicinal herbs to enhance sweetness and taste.
Note: * means this herb is a phytoestrogenic herb and may be able to help you improve many menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, anxiety and irritability, mood swings and brain fog.
|*Black cohosh– Has a powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer of the female reproductive system.
Studies confirm that black cohosh root is a phytoestrogenic herb, which meanse it can mimic estrogen in the body.It’s useful for hot flashes, vaginal dryness and even depression sometimes associated with menopause.
|Chamomile – Chamomile is a traditional remedy for stress and anxiety, indigestion and insomnia – common complaints at menopause.
It helps colitis, diverticulosis, flatulence, fever, headaches and pain.
Chamomile infusion before bed is an excellent, gentle sedative.
|*Dong quai – One of the best female tonic herbs, dong quai balances hormones, is a blood tonic and relieves hot flashes, vaginal dryness and depression, increases blood flow to the pelvic area.
It can be used over time to strengthen the uterus.
|Hops– Bitter-flavored hops have a significant relaxing effect on the central nervous system.
They relieve tension, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia. They decrease the desire for alcohol.
Avoid with significant depression because hops can worsen this condition.
|Lady’s mantle:Lady’s Mantle’s astringent and styptic properties help reduce period pains and lessen heavy menstrual bleeding.
It helps a woman’s body adjust to changing hormone levels during menopause.
It’s an anti-estrogenic herb that helps regulate irregular cycles and relieves cramps.
|Lavender: Lavender infusion has calming effects that help relieve stress, fatigue, headache and insomnia. Drinking a cup of Lavender tea before going to bed is known to promote restful sleep – frequently a challenge to achieve during menopause.
This herb blends well with mint leaves for a refreshing tea. Use 1 tsp each herb. Let steep 10 minutes.
Lavender essential oil is excellent choice to calm the nervous system when diffused or used in massage.
Lavender is useful for treating headaches, muscle spasms, anxiety, nervousness. As a liniment, lavender relaxes sore muscles.
|Lemon Balm– (a.k.a. Melissa) This lemony-tasting common garden herb can ease many conditions including insomnia, fever, viral illnesses, headaches and menstrual cramps.
It’s an excellent herb to calm the digestive tract when experiencing bloating, gas, pain or spasms, heartburn, upset stomach, vomiting, or burping.
A gentle herb, Lemon Balm is potent enough to help with mild depression, stress, anxiety, palpitations and tension headaches. It has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system, which results in lowered blood pressure.
|Licorice root– Licorice root adjusts and boosts estrogen metabolism, helping to decrease the symptoms associated with hormone fluctuation at menopause.
Licorice enhances the action of other herbs when taken in a formula.
|Milk thistle seed– An amazingly powerful but non-toxic herb that is regarded primarily as a protective, restorative and cleansing remedy for the liver.
Milk thistle is a powerful anti-oxidant, which helps improve the immune system, and it is an herbal hormonal balancer and regulator that helps in the healthy functioning of women’s cycles.
Milk thistle is a tonic that’s effective for treating general fatigue or physical or mental exhaustion due to overwork or stress. It also helps regulate the circulation and nervous systems and it is an antidepressant.
When women experience conditions such as menstrual irregularities, PMS, menopausal problems, fibrocystic conditions and erratic mood swings, special attention should be directed to the health of the liver.
|Mistletoe – Mistletoe is one of the best remedies to normalize blood pressure, reverse lack of energy, calm heart flutters, dizziness, heavy menstruation, hot flashes and feelings of anxiety during menopause.
“Mistletoe tea, drunk for a few years, brings relief and you will pass through the change naturally…Since Mistletoe benefits the whole glandular system, it also aids the metabolism. At the same time it favorably influences the pancreas, so that through drinking Mistletoe tea over a long period, diabetes loses its original cause… It is excellent for hormonal imbalance – drink 2 cups per day.” – From the famous Austrian folk herbalist Maria Treban in her book ‘Health Through God’s Pharmacy – Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs’ ISBN: 3-85068-124-6
|Motherwort – Has a nervine effect (tones and strengthens the nervous system) and cardio-tonic effect. It’s a useful, relaxing tonic for soothing menopausal changes.
It is a specific herb to reduce over-rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) brought about by anxiety or hot flashes.
The herb itself is very bitter, so you may prefer to use motherwort tincture.
Motherwort soothes your nervous systems and helps you get back to your center. It’s helpful when you have intense feelings of anxiety, can’t sleep, or have racing thoughts. Take a dropper full of tincture (about 20-25 drops).
Motherwort’s gifts as a nervine also help during times of grief. In her book, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards writes, “At times of extreme emotionally upset, when you can’t hold yourself together or stop crying, 20 drops of motherwort tincture can be taken as often as necessary.” This is an herb that nurtures.
|Red raspberry– Red raspberry herb is a lifelong herb for rebalancing female energy in conditions such as painful menstruation, morning sickness and hot flashes. Due to the drying effect of the tannins it contains, it reduces excessive menstruation. It relaxes uterine and intestinal spasms and strengthens uterine walls.
It has important therapeutic uses and is nutritious too – containing vitamins A, B, C, G and E. Red raspberry leaf is rich in calcium, phosphorus, niacin and iron. It is an excellent source of manganese, a trace mineral used by the body to produce healthy connective tissue, such as bone matrix and cartilage and an important factor in energy metabolism.
Red Raspberry herb promotes healthy nails, bones, teeth and skin.
As a tea or tincture it is invaluable for treating diarrhea and dysentery. Combine it with garden sage to make a good mouthwash for sore or infected gums and canker sores.
Combine with nettle to replenish iron-poor blood and related low energy levels.
Drinking 1-2 cups of red raspberry leaf every day is a nutritious tonic tea.
|Sage – Garden or Red Sage leaf tea is helpful for menopausal disturbances, specifically for reducing or eliminating hot flashes, painful menstruation, anxiety and mood swings. It can also normalize menstruation during perimenopause.
Combine it with red raspberry herb to make a good mouthwash for sore or infected gums and canker sores.
Drink sage daily as a tea blended with lemonbalm to lighten the flavor – 1 tsp of each dried herb in 1 cup just-boiled water. Steep 10 minutes. Or, take 5-8 drops sage tincture in a glass of water twice daily. Avoid sage essential oil, in favor of milder clary sage essential oil.
|Seaweed – American herbalist Susun Weed advises women to eat seaweed daily to prevent and heal osteoporosis, breast cancer, mastitis, uterine cancer, irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cancer, fibroids, ovarian cysts, infertility, fibro-cystic breast distress and premenstrual/menopausal problems such as water retention, emotional freak-outs, chills and hot flashes, fatigue, lack of lubrication, loss of calcium and general irritability.|
|Shepherd’s purse:An astringent agent, shepherd’s purse constricts blood vessels and reduces blood flow. It is used to stop heavy bleeding and hemorrhaging, particularly from the uterus when taken internally. It is considered most effective for the treatment of chronic uterine bleeding disorders, including uterine bleeding due to the presence of uterine fibroids. Shepherd’s purse has been used internally to treat cases of blood in the urine and bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, such as with bleeding ulcers. It is a remedy for blood pressure problems, nosebleeds, irregular heartbeat, wounds and burns.
Cautions: Pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with kidney stones or kidney disease should avoid Shepherd’s purse. Consult with your doctor before taking Shepherd’s purse if you have blood pressure, thyroid gland, or heart problems.
|* Vitex (Chasteberry) – Regulates and normalizes hormone production. It is especially beneficial, and the herb of choice for many women, to relieve menopause challenges.
It has a profound action in lessening hot flashes. Studies verify that vitex increases the production of lutenizing hormones, enhancing the progesterone cycle. At the same time it inhibits the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone, FSH, and normalizes the estrogen cycle.
A 1930s scientific study using a tincture of dried vitex berries found that a month or two of using this herb normalized menstrual cycles and reduced flow.
Vitex may be used for acute situations but it is most effective if taken over a prolonged period of time.
Note that a causal relationship between the use of vitex and depression in some women has been established.
|Walnut Leaves – Walnut leaves are astringent, antiviral, antifungal, tonic and sedative.
They’re excellent for women to include in infusions to reduce profuse menstruation.
|Yarrow:A catalyst for the female reproductive system, it has a positive effect on ovarian problems, menstrual irregularity, menstrual cramps, and menopausal symptoms, insomnia, nervous tension, stress related conditions.
Yarrow is used to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding, to ease menstrual cramps and to stimulate delayed or absent menstrual cycles.
Famous German herbalist Maria Treban writes: “Yarrow is a medicinal herb that would be difficult to be without; it is of great value for many illnesses but first and foremost, it is a herb for women. I cannot recommend Yarrow enough for women…A woman during menopause should take advantage of Yarrow tea and save herself a lot of inner restlessness and other problems.” Drink a cup of yarrow tea daily.