Through every phase in life, Mother Nature has considered us women and prepared many remedies for our health and wellness. Just like any mother, she provides comfort, guidance, and solutions to most of all our problems and health concerns.
From reproductive to mental health challenges, she has grown botanical plants and herbs to treat our common health conditions. Via roots, stems, berries, and seeds, Mother Nature cares for women from the inside out. Whether it’s a flowering blossom or bitter tea leaf, we can find natural wellness remedies all around us; we just have to know where to look.
Discover the following natural botanical supplements gifted to us by Mother Earth that every woman should know about.
PMS and Cramps
Menstruation should not be painful or cause debilitating mood swings. When we experience cramps, there is commonly an association with our diet. Avoiding dairy, red meat, alcohol, sugar, salt, and caffeine the week before your menstrual cycle begins can reduce cramp severity, mood swings, bloating, water retention, and breast tenderness.
Sometimes we may need added support to get us through this time of the month. Here are a few natural supplements you may want to keep handy to ease the symptoms of your period:
- Ginger– Found to be as effective as ibuprofen, one study concluded that 250 mg of ginger powder taken four times a day for three days was helpful for menstrual pain relief.
- Chamomile tea– Known to help reduce muscle spasms and relax nerves via increased levels of glycine, chamomile tea is a healthy option for menstrual cramp relief.
- Turmeric– One study found that women who took curcumin capsules for seven days before and three days after their period reported measurable relief of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Curcumin is the active anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric and is responsible for its bright yellow color.
- Chasteberry– Several studies show that chasteberry may alleviate symptoms, such as fluid retention, irritability, breast tenderness, and mild depression associated with PMS.
Anxiety and Stress
Now more than ever, women are experiencing elevated anxiety levels. With social injustice and an ongoing pandemic adding to the everyday stresses of being a Black woman, we need all the mental health support we can get.
Meditation, counseling, mindfulness, good sleep, and a proper diet can all help reduce feelings of anxiety. For added support, consider these botanical herbal remedies:
- Cannabidiol (CBD)– CBD is known to help with anxiety by interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps maintain homeostasis, or balance, within the body. Evidence shows CBD has great potential to be a treatment option for various anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic disorder.
- Passionflower– A study found that passionflower was effective at treating generalized anxiety disorder, with a low incidence of impaired job performance compared to the pharmaceutical drug oxazepam. Passionflower, or Passiflora incarnata, has been used traditionally around the world to treat anxiety, restlessness, and agitation. It is believed to accomplish this by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, which promotes calmness and relaxation.
As we age, we earn the grace of wisdom as hot flashes, decreased sex drive, bone loss, and vaginal dryness befall us. These changes come from a decrease in our reproductive hormone levels, which typically starts in our late 40s or early 50s.
While going through menopause is a natural process, that does not make it any more tolerable to endure. These herbal insights may help get us through this period in life by taming its dreaded symptoms.
- Black cohosh– Also known as Cimicifuga, black cohosh is a potent remedy for hot flashes and night sweats. It is safe and effective for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
- Maca– An Incan superfood, maca has been used for centuries to treat hormone imbalance and menopausal symptoms like moodiness, vaginal dryness, and decreased sex drive.
- Flax seeds– Improvement of menopausal symptoms and quality of life were reported by women taking flax seeds during a three-month study. The study also found that flax seeds increased levels of a hormone associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.
For new moms, it is important to breastfeed and make sure our baby is getting the optimal nutrition needed for proper growth and development. For some of us, producing milk is more difficult than we would like it to be.
Mother Nature has provided many herbal remedies to help potentially increase breast milk supply.
- Fenugreek, Ginger, and Turmeric– Often the primary ingredient in lactation teas, fenugreek is a common herb used as a galactagogue or a lactation stimulant. A 2018 study showed that mothers who took an herbal mix of ginger, turmeric, and fenugreek had a 49% increase in milk volume after two weeks and a 103% increase after four weeks.
- Blessed thistle– A review found that blessed thistle is often used as a galactagogue. Another touted benefit is that this herb can help with cough as an expectorant that loosens and thins mucus.
Uterine fibroids are more common for Black women than any other race. One study found fibroids in 26% of Black women and only 7% of White women who did not have symptoms. While they are benign tumors, uterine fibroids can cause significant health problems, including infertility, pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, constipation, back pain, urinary urgency and frequency, anemia, and miscarriage.
Obesity can increase the risk of developing fibroids because fat cells make high amounts of estrogen, which increases the risk and rate of fibroid growth. Other increased risks include a diet high in refined carbohydrates like cereal, crackers, chips, and soda. Also, eating a lot of meat like beef, ham, lamb, and other red meats can increase your risk of developing fibroids. Decreasing alcohol consumption and eating a Mediterranean diet high in fiber is ideal for fibroid prevention and treatment. Avoiding estrogen-disrupting chemicals, like pesticides, BPA in plastics, nonstick cookware coating, and dyes are also recommended.
These supplements can decrease your risk of developing fibroids and help slow their growth.
- Vitamin D– A study found that women who had sufficient vitamin D levels were 32% less likely to develop fibroids compared to women who were vitamin D deficient. Because darker-skinned people need more sun to produce sufficient vitamin D, Black women are often deficient. A vitamin D supplement may be needed to increase levels to the normal range.
- Green Tea– Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant found in green tea, may slow fibroid growth by decreasing high estrogen levels and reducing inflammation. Studies show EGCG decreased fibroid volume significantly after four months of taking 800 mg per day.
Mother Nature has done a fine job of providing women with what we need during each phase of life. From menstruation to breastfeeding to menopause, Mother Earth has considered our needs and provided an array of botanical solutions to soothe and comfort us at every turn.
Always consult your physician before beginning any new herbal supplements, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Founder and CEO of Monaco Natural Health Solutions, Dr. Carlie Bell-Biggins is a licensed naturopathic physician with a thriving medical practice in Pearland, TX. A holistic health and functional medicine expert, Dr. Carlie is passionate about the African American community’s health and wellness needs. Frequently discussing topics around mindfulness and positive self-image, she enjoys encouraging others to live their best life with a positive perspective. Often complimented on her sense of fashion, Dr. Carlie embodies everything it means to be a modern female CEO, including leadership, style, culture, and charisma.