As a teenager and young adult I struggled with painful cramping that was so debilitating I missed school or work two days of every month like clockwork around my menses. It was so bad I grew to hate being a woman and dreaded my “time of the month.” It shouldn’t be that way. Being a Woman does not have to be painful.
After being married for 4 years and wanting to get pregnant but never seemed to, I finally went to an OB/GYN and asked for help understanding what was going on. Turns out I have endometriosis, alot of it and that accounted for the pain and the difficulty in getting pregnant. After an unsuccessful operation and experimental injections monthly, I was finally able to conceive, only to be told it was an ectopic pregnancy which needed to be removed. Well, long story short, I now have 4 lovely grown children and the secret to resolving menstrual pain and cramping. I'll let you in on my secret - though it's not really a secret but it took me some time to figure out the combination.
My first success was found with acupuncture treatments. After about 6 visits I found blessed relief. My doctor told me it had to do with getting my body to get rid of stagnant blood and restoring proper blood flow around and within the uterus. It was like a miracle to go through my #menses and have no pain and little cramping.
As it turns out, my daughters struggled with the same pain and cramping each cycle and were miserable. We tried acupuncture with one and the other wanted nothing to do with it. So I researched and experimented and my successful results ended up being one of my tea blends offered by Kanji Naturals: "Beautiful Woman." This tea blend contains: Motherwort, Chamomile, Raspberry, Peppermint, Fennel, Crampbark and Ginger. Let's talk about them and why they are so powerful in this tea blend.
1. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca): This herb grows commonly in neglected gardens, open woods, floodplains, riverbanks. #Motherwort is a sturdy stemmed perennial of up to 5 feet tall with pink to pale purple clustered flowers and prickly sepals (use gloves). Like other members of the mint family, the foliage, when crushed, has a distinct odor. Flowers appear from July through September.
Motherwort prefers moist, rich soils and hails from the mint family with the same growing propensity of most mints. Motherwort grows via seed reproduction and spreads through rhizomes to form large colonies. Many consider Motherwort an invasive weed, however I find it has not spread rapidly in my gardens since I prune it often once it flowers for herbal use.
The Motherwort species name of ‘cardiaca’ (meaning “for the heart”) is in reference to its early medicinal use for heart ailments – stimulating the heart muscle, promoting blood circulation, treating arteriosclerosis, dissolving blood clots and treating rapid heartbeat. Other motherwort uses are purported to be remedial for nerves, dizziness and “disorders of women” such as menopause and following childbirth. Motherwort is said to bring on scanty or absent menstruation and to relieve water retention, PMS, and stress or tension resulting from painful menstruation. It is often referred to as the Mother herb as it helps with so many issues specific to women and birth.
2. Chamomile ( ): is anti-inflammatory and supports the nervous system thus helping with the swelling and moodiness associated with PMS. See previous post on growing chamomile for more information.
3. Raspberry (Rubus idaeus): The leaves of the red raspberry plant are used for their toning effect on the uterus (astringent, tonic) and to improve the health of the reproductive system. The Cherokee people used a leaf infusion to help laboring women with birth pains and a decoction to help menstruating women with cramping find relief.
The #raspberry leaves are best harvested when they are vibrant and healthy. Raspberry plants grow well in our region, but spread roots that produce plants everywhere if not maintained.
4. Peppermint (Mentha piperata): Besides adding a delicious flavor to the tea, peppermint is anti-spasmodic, helping muscles relax, reducing uterine cramping and spasms. All mints can become overwhelmingly invasive so be sure to have a dedicated location with a way to control it's spreading.
5. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): This herb is also anti-spasmodic and carminative. It helps to relax uterine muscles.
6. Crampbark (Viburnum opulus): This is truely the most powerful secret ingredient, that suprisingly, few people know about. #CrampBark comes from the bark of the American Cranberry bush, which grows well in our region but is mostly touted as a privacy hedge more than its amazing health benefits. Cramp bark prefers a moist area to grow in.
Cramp bark is used for muscle spasms of all types, including smooth and skeletal muscles, bronchi, arteries, and the bladder. This herb is considered a uterine decongestant, meaning bloating and cramping before menstruation as well as delayed menses. Uterine congestion can also be seen associated with endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts.
Cramp bark, and the “Beautiful Woman” tea blend seem to work best if taken 1-2 days before cramping.
If the cramping is severe, try making a tincture of pure cramp bark and take 20 drops to a teaspoon every several hours. After taking this for several months you will find that the cramping, etc become milder and don’t require as much tea or tincture. If it does not, you will want to visit with your doctor as to underlying causes.
7. Ginger (Zingiber officinale): this herb is used to improve blood circulation in the pelvic area. I have tried growing ginger, but short of a long, warm summer I am not very successful.
Warnings: Motherwort should not be used during pregnancy except under the guidance of a licensed practitioner and only just before and after labor
My American Cranberry bushes are young and produce very little bark for me at this point. Commercially it is not readily available (it has been on backorder for the last 6 months). Therefore I only have a limited supply of the tea “Beautiful Woman.” Currently there is a limited supply at #Unglued store in Fargo. If interested in trying this tea you might want to consider stopping by to get your supply sooner than later.
other herbs to consider for PMS and menstrual cramps are: Yarrow (anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic), Cinnamon (mild emmenagogue), Catnip and Skullcap