This is a HUGE subject that SO many of you have requested. This is just the tiny tip of the iceberg regarding womb health and its multiple phases of life.
The use of pharmaceuticals for pregnancy, fertility, menopause (etc) is excessive and not without risks. While the horrors of thalidomide are behind us, women in their 40s, and men too, whose mothers took DES during pregnancy for example, in the 1960s-1970s are still dealing with the repercussions. in the forms of increased reproductive cancers (and genital deformities). Unfortunately, new studies continue to reveal hidden harms, though perhaps less extreme, of pharmaceuticals currently in use, including what we've all been told is safe until recently – Tylenol. And yet another recent study has demonstrated that the most common medication given in pregnancy for yeast infections increases miscarriage. (Romm, Aviva)
Shocking statistics have been coming out about the dispensing of prescription drugs, including narcotics, to pregnant women in the U.S. One recent study looked at the pattern of prescription drugs (other than vitamins) dispensed to over one million women enrolled in Medicaid for at least 3 months before and then throughout pregnancy from 2002 to 2007. Almost 83% of these women were dispensed at least one medication; half of these were antibiotics. Read more about these statistics by the expert, Aviva Romm, MD, ND.
The use of herbs for the treatment of common pregnancy symptoms is very common. Studies and surveys estimate that up to 45% of women use an herbal therapy at some point during pregnancy. I hope this article gives you a glimpse into the potential benefits of herbs in pregnancy. If you're seriously interested in learning more about Herbs in Pregnancy, check out Aviva Romm MD and ND.
TOP 12 HERBS FOR THE WOMB
Nettle is one of Nature’s greatest multivitamin! Rich in nutrients, minerals and high in iron. t’s deeply nourishing for regular womb care, pre & post cycle, for fertility, for postpartum after birth, and in the case of a miscarriage. Nettle also supports kidney health, clears urinary tract infections and is incredibly effective at reducing seasonal allergies.
You can ingest as a tea, as a food and beyond. You can treat it as if it were a stinging kale, and make all sorts of delicious dishes, tea’s, broths and beyond.
A beloved adaptogen native to India. Used for centuries in Ayurveda as one of the greatest allies for the womb. This beautiful herb is supportive to the womb in all phases of womanhood. It helps balance sluggish menstruation or a heavy flow. It’s often used to help lubricate dry vaginas, or vaginal dryness that often happens during menopause. Shatavari increases fertility, and is a galactagogue, which increases breast milk production.
Ingest as a tea, capsule, tincture or in food. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
One of my all time favorite plants for womb care in all stages of life. It’s often used as hormone replacement therapy, to support women during menopause, with few adverse effects. It helps to alleviate symptoms of hot flashes, sleep disorders, body pains, irritability, and mood swings. It’s successfully used to treat PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and helps reduce bone loss resulting from osteoporosis.
Recommended as a tea, tincture or capsule. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
RED RASPBERRY LEAF
Red raspberry leaf is a superior blood cleanser, and is classically coined as a top uterine tonic. It helps to support and tonify the uterus pre-menstruation, helping to relieve menstrual cramping and pain, as well as helping heavy period flows, and endometriosis. Red raspberry is also safe to use at any stage of pregnancy. Think of it as a superfood to your blood and uterus. It’s also used pre-birth to prepare the pelvic muscles for labor and birth. Red raspberry is an excellent general blood tonic, and both men and women can benefit from its leaves, and of course fruit!
For best results try using the fresh leaves, or fresh dried. If not available, enjoy it as a tea or tincture. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
A wonderful herb that can aid in various women’s health-related issues, vitex enhances the function of the pituitary gland which regulates hormone secretion. It’s used as a fertility aid, and is safe to use in pregnancy for miscarriage prevention if there is a history of miscarriages (always consult with an herbalist prior to taking this herb). Vitex is a galactagogue, stimulates milk production in new moms, can help to bring back menstruation for women suffering from amenorrhea, and mat also reduce ovarian cysts. It's also a powerful ally for pre/post menopausal women and can helps to alleviate associated symptoms.
Best in tincture of capsule form. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
Being a phenomenal anti-spasmodic, wild yam helps with PMS, relieving menstrual and muscle cramping and pain/dysmenorrhea, as well as regulating contractions during labor. It also provides pain relief post-surgery in the pelvic region related to endometriosis, fibroid or cyst removal, C-sections, and post-labor pain.
Wild yam can be used in a progesterone cream, a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Maca root, is an energizing adaptogen known for its power to increase sexual desire in both men and women. Like similar nutrient dense tubers, it has a high nutrient content which also increases energy and stamina, and due to its high protein content it can help build muscle. Maca has provided excellent support to those in menopause, in particular to women struggling with hot flashes. Although it tends to boost testosterone levels, it can also help regulate hormone levels, decreasing PMS symptoms, moodiness, and those dealing with mild depression.
Best and easiest in powder form. Unless of course you grow it and can make a delicious hot decoction! It has a very tasty malty flavor, and can be easily integrated into food, smoothies, tonic latte’s, etc.
Moringa is a superb high vitamin C mineralizer and galactagogue for mamas to be, and nursing mamas. Moringa leaves are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. One cup of fresh, chopped leaves (21 grams) contains protein, vitamin B6, B2, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin A, Magnesium, B2, and more.
Enjoy fresh or as a powder and incorporate into food, beverages, and beyond. A super tasty green powder that can be enjoyed even as a latte!
Ashwagandha also known as Nature’s Chill Pill as it can greatly reduce stress levels due to its direct effect on the central nervous system and the adrenals. In Ayurveda it has been used for fertility support and as a replacement for HRT during menopause.
Can be ingested as a food (great in soup!), tea, as a tincture or capsule.
All adaptogenic mushrooms are considered generally safe in small doses during pregnancy. Enjoy them occasionally as a food particularly in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. They are very nutrient dense, immune protective, adaptogenic and can help with stress relief particularly to those mamas feeling anxious before birth. Mushrooms such as turkey tail, agaricus, lions mane, shiitake, maitake, oysters, chaga, cordyceps, reishi, and other culinary mushrooms are excellent to incorporate into the diet. Enjoy them in soup as a mushroom broth, or as a tea. Be sure not to over-do it (with anything) while you’re pregnant. Adaptogenic mushrooms can also help women that have irregular cycles, heavy blood flow, PMS,
*A note on adaptogens. Avoid using in the first trimester as your body is already doing so much, there is no need to incorporate unless you are directly supervised by a healthcare practitioner that advises a particular course of action for you. You can enjoy them occasionally on the second and third trimester, if you’re needing immune support, or help with anxiety/depression/irregular moods.
Ingest in nutrient dense foods, soup, smoothies, warm beverages.
According to herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, “red clover can be considered one of nature’s best vitamin and mineral supplements, as it contains beta-carotene, calcium, vitamin C, a whole spectrum of B vitamins, and essential trace minerals such as magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium (Gladstar, 2012). Because of its phytoestrogens, it is commonly used by women to support common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. The isoflavones in red clover appear to bind with estrogen receptor sites, preventing certain forms of estrogen such as estradiol and/or excess estrogen from accumulating.”
Red clover is often used to boost fertility, as well as great tonic to prepare the uterus for pregnancy due to its blood purifying and mineralizing properties. Studies also demonstrate it to be a great galactagogue as it stimulates prolactin secretion, therefore increasing milk production. *Because of its strong phytoestrogen content, some studies have shown it to be potentially unsafe, yet there isn’t enough information regarding this. As always, consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner to see what’s best for you.
Best taken as a tea, tincture or infusion. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
MILKY OATS (Oat Straw)
An excellent and safe Trophorestorative, which means it's a nutritive restorative. Oat straw is a superb tonic for anyone looking to recover from weakness of deficiency. It has a soothing, calming effect on the body and can gently elevate mood. It’s a superb tonic associated with PMS, labor pains and during postpartum.
Ingest as a tincture or tea. For pregnant mamas, use glycerite tinctures.
Other common nutritive teas that are known to be safe in moderate amounts are: spearmint, chamomile, lemon balm, rose hips, hibiscus, can be considered reasonable for regular use in pregnancy. Using normal amounts of traditional cooking spices is considered safe as well. Be aware that anything in excess is not suggested during pregnancy. If in doubt, please consult your healthcare practitioner.