Monday, July 9, 2012

Herbs and Supplements to Relieve Common Discomfort During Menses

While there are no hard statistics, it is estimated that as many as 75 percent of all women experience some premenstrual symptoms at one time or another.  Symptoms can include any or all of the following: abdominal bloating, acne, anxiety, backache, breast swelling and tenderness, cramps, depression, fainting spells, fatigue, food cravings, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, nervousness, skin eruptions, water retention, personality changes such as drastic mood swings, outbursts of anger, violence, and sometimes, event thoughts of suicide. 

What a list of symptoms, right. Blah.  Obviously the magnitude of these symptoms varies greatly for each woman.  So please consult a physician if you struggle with severe physical or emotional symptoms.  The dosages recommended below are for adults.  For girls between the ages of 12 and 17, reduce the dose to 3/4 of the recommended amount. 
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Suggested Herbs

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
May regulate the menstrual cycle.
Soothes inflammation.
"Red raspberry is best known for its action on the female reproductive system. It is particularly useful during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle as the body prepares for ovulation. Red raspberry, when used in conjunction with Dong Quai, supports the complicated metabolic functions associated with this phase of a woman’s cycle. Traditionally known as a blood tonic and purifier, red raspberry possesses hormone-regulating and uterine-toning properties important to this phase of the menstrual cycle. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the regular intake of red raspberry increases fertility."  Source 

Fresh Ginger 
Natural pain killer.  
Soothes nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea during menses.  
Improves circulation & digestion.
Boosts immune function. 
Valerian Root 
Traditionally used as herbal remedy for insomnia.
(does not give you that groggy feeling in the morning.  Do not take for more than 2 weeks)
Used to calm and relieve pain associated with menstrual cramps, also may aid in the emotional/mental strains of menses. 

Dandelion Leaf
Relief from bloating.
An excellent diuretic.

Strawberry Leaf
Can help with mood swings and tone the nervous system.

Milk Thistle 
Cleanses the liver and helps improve liver function, thus enhancing the liver's ability to metabolize estrogen.  For best results, this herb should be taken on a daily basis for a period of three months.


Probiotics with acidophilus
(use as directed on label)
Breaks down metabolites of estrogen. 

1,000 mg daily.
Should be taken with calcium (1,500 mg daily).
Also take with vitamin D, which is needed for the uptake of calcium and magnesium.  
Studies show that calcium supplements can reduce many symptoms of PMS by as much as 30%  - use a citrate or chelate form. 
It's often cited that women crave chocolate during their periods.  Well, there could be a reason.  Chocolate is very high in magnesium. 

Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA)
(750 mg daily)
Assists in controlling anxiety and restlessness by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. 

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1.  Eat fewer dairy products.  Dairy products block the absorption of magnesium and increase its urinary excretion.  Refined sugars also increase magnesium excretion.  

2.  Avoid caffeine and xanthine-containing foods and beverages such as coffee, cola, tea, and chocolate.  Caffeine is linked to breast tenderness, and is a central nervous system stimulant.  Studies have shown that women who regularly consume caffeine are four times more likely than others to have severe PMS.

3.  Get regular exercise.  Walking, even if only one-half to one mile per day, can be very helpful.  Exercise increases the oxygen level in the blood, which helps in nutrient absorption and efficient elimination of toxins from the body.  It also helps to keep hormone levels more stable. 

4.  Wild yam extract contains natural progesterone and has proved effective in alleviating many symptoms of PMS including cramps, headache, mood swings, depression, irritability, and insomnia. 
Shared on: Fat Tuesday


  1. A great article! So much information!

  2. Tessa Domestic DivaJuly 9, 2012 5:15 PM

    I have lots of friends that will find this info helpful, good work amber!

  3. Simply...Gluten-freeJuly 9, 2012 6:33 PM

    What an interesting and informative article. I think I have had all those symptoms at one time or another!

  4. Wow! What great info. I did know about some of these herbs, but This will help me out. I'm sharing this on my FB Page.

  5. Fabulous post as usual Amber! I am a huge fan of red raspberry leaf. I have used it for years-before kids, during both pregnancies and after kids. It is simply fabulous. Thanks for the information on helpful supplements to take.

  6. Jenilyn -Holistic Fertility CoachJuly 10, 2012 2:05 PM

    Amber, this is going up on my Facebook page for fertility, One Way or A Mother. Thank you, very well written! I also have read that if you take magnesium your chocolate cravings subside, probably because your body is satisfied with the amount of magnesium flowing through your body.

    • Hi Jenilyn,

      Thank you for your sweet message! And yes, I craved chocolate only around my periods, and so I started taking magnesium and my cravings went away! Honestly. So amazing.

  7. Paige @ Not Missing a Thing!July 11, 2012 9:16 AM

    Great info! Im wondering if you have a particular magnesium/calcium you recommend. I've had a terrible time finding one that seems right.

  8. France@beyondthepeelJuly 11, 2012 11:56 AM

    So great. I was looking at this book, the one you source, at the store the other day to figure out some of the things I've been thinking about and trying to fix. I never had painful menstrual cycles until about 6-7 years ago. Now they're brutal. I know this is something that I can fix naturally and your recommendations are a great place to start.

  9. Whenever I experience menstrual cramps I rely too much on pain relievers. Now that I have read your blog and learn about holistic approach, I might as well try this healing technique.


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