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Top 3 Herbs for Women’s Health (Plus 2 Honorable Mentions)

Gender and wellness can be pretty divisive topics. But you should know by now that we’re not ones to shy away from controversy, especially not during Women’s Health Month!

Our whole jam is breaking down complicated topics accurately, equitably, and with your best interests in mind. And when it comes to being in the world, the workplace, and the space station — we believe women and men are entirely equal.

When it comes to wellness, however, it’s important to remember that equal doesn’t always mean exactly the same.

While the vast majority of Dr. Neal’s holistic health advice is pretty dang genderless — the Wellness Pyramid, for example, is the same for everyone — there are some symptoms and concerns that are unique to the female experience. Like PMS, menopause, uterine health, etc.

But of all the many cures and capsules being sold to women for these health factors, which ones work? And which ones are bunk? Read on to learn about three herbal allies for women’s health that actually have the data to back up their hype and can, in fact, spice up your life.

In This Article:

But First: The Wellness Pyramid for Women

Wait, can’t you just scroll past this section to the science-supported herbs we have listed below? You can, and we won’t stop you!

But we’d be remiss not to mention that herbs, like supplements, work best when they’re supplementing and supporting a generally healthy lifestyle. So before we hand over our hard-earned cash, we should make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck by creating a strong foundation for health first.

Where do we start? With wellness practices in the mundane areas of life: Diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and environmental changes.

This section might look familiar to hardcore holistic health hotties, but it’s not by accident that the Wellness Pyramid shows up in so many of our blogs.

The foundational building blocks of long-term health just don’t change that often! Plus, sustainable wellness is about establishing supportive routines that organize our wellness efforts and push us out of ‘survive’ mode and into ‘thrive’ mode.

And we can’t do that without a simple framework for health that makes this messy topic manageable.

Learn More: Wellness Practices 101

3 Herbs for Women’s Health

Speaking of making things manageable… We could rattle off a list of a dozen or more herbs we could recommend for women’s health, but there’s already enough misinformation and marketing speak out there to keep you confused about which plants actually have an effect on women’s health.

So let’s keep it short, sweet, and to the point!

But remember: Not just any herb can make it onto our list.

These particular plants all have a long history of usage for holistic health and scientific backing via modern studies. Plus, they can help with multiple systems and symptoms, so they’re kind of a dream team for women’s health.

1. Chaste Tree Berry (AKA Vitex)

First up: Chaste tree, a shrub known for its violet flowers and berries, that has been used in traditional women’s wellness practices for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Many of our women-centered products contain extracts from this plant, and for good reason! Commonly used to support healthy and regular menstrual cycles, soothe PMS symptoms, and support and balance hormone production, this hardy fruit offers a wealth of health benefits. 

Both the fruits and leaves of the chaste tree are medicinal and contain flavonoids, iridoids, progestins, and essential oils.

This blend of beneficial compounds can help balance menstrual cycles and ease menstrual pain — on top of supporting a healthy endocrine system — and the chaste tree has been used in a variety of cultures to help treat common women’s health concerns like menstrual pain, PMS, menopause, and more.

Chaste tree berries can also stimulate progesterone production and help normalize estrogen and progesterone levels, believe it or not!

And, in European herbalism and medicine, chaste tree extracts are used both to treat uterine fibroid cysts and to help boost breast milk supply for new mothers.

Keep in Mind:

While chaste tree has no known serious side effects, it can cause mild nausea, stomach issues, or rash. Chaste tree is not recommended while pregnant, or for patients who may have some specific hormone-related issues.

Please talk with your healthcare provider before beginning any herbal supplementation routine, or set up a free Counterside Consult to get the inside scoop!

2. Black Cohosh

Black cohosh, while less popular than vitex or chaste berry, has also been used for hundreds of years. More than one Native American tribe turned to the flowering plant to relieve menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, and even sleep difficulties.

These days, it’s known in many European countries as a well-established herbal remedy for the same issues and has been for over 40 years now.

In fact, clinical research has shown black cohosh to be more effective at preventing hot flashes than Prozac! And some studies showed as much as a 20% reduction in hot flashes and sleep disturbance symptoms (also known as vasomotor symptoms) among menopausal women while taking the herbal supplement. 

Some researchers have raised concerns about the phytoestrogens in black cohosh interacting with breast cancer treatment, but a recent study actually supported the opposite hypothesis: That black cohosh can, in fact, help protect against the development of breast cancer.

Keep in Mind:

We do need to say, though, that more research is necessary to confirm these findings, and many researchers caution against using black cohosh for more than 6 months at a time due to the limited scope of the current studies.

And despite this seemingly overwhelmingly positive fanfare, it’s still important to discuss your herbal supplementation plans with your healthcare provider.

3. Stinging Nettles

Nettles may seem an unlikely hero in this list since they’re not typically recommended for women’s health specifically, but they have a lot of benefits for women if you look a little closer.

Nettle has been used as a natural remedy for its healing properties for over 2000 years, and the chemical compounds in stinging nettle offer a wide variety of female-focused health benefits. As one of the most nutrient-dense herbs available in America, stinging nettles contain micronutrients that many women are deficient in, like iron and folate.

Because of its astringent characteristics, nettle can also relieve unpleasant premenstrual symptoms such as cramping and bloating, as well as reduce blood flow during menstruation. And, at the same time, stinging nettles can ease the menopause transition, lowering the intensity of the hormonal shift in the body.

When acting as a coagulant, stinging nettle can also help prevent excessive bleeding, while increasing milk production and making breastfeeding more comfortable. 

Want even more reason to love this prickly little plant?

Nettles is also particularly helpful for women getting flattened by seasonal allergies this time of year, due to its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine (and antioxidant, anti-proliferative, analgesic, anti-infectious, hypotensive, antiulcer — you get the picture, this herb is a powerhouse!) properties.

Bonus Plants for Babes: 2 More Herbs for Women’s Health

Make friends with these 3 herbs and you’ll be well on your way to hormonal wellness! But without these 2 honorable mention herbs, your plant-based holistic health toolkit will be like the Spice Girls without Baby and Posh — a little boring, and definitely missing something.

So let’s give a little love to the aptly named cramp bark and the herb it’s often paired with, red raspberry leaf.

Cramp Bark

While cramp bark is widely used for all types of muscular discomfort, it is also often used for women’s health specifically due to its ability to support healthy inflammatory responses and soothe uterine cramping and discomfort.

Traditionally used by midwives for both pregnancy and postpartum support in addition to soothing PMS symptoms, this handy herb might just end up being a woman’s best friend. 

Red Raspberry Leaf

Not to be confused with the plant’s delicious berries, red raspberry leaf has a long and storied track record of use in holistic treatment. Praised for its regulatory effect on hormones, particularly for women, red raspberry leaf is also known for its ability to support uterine health.

Other benefits: PMS symptom and nausea relief, boosted milk production in lactating patients, and induction of labor.

If You Wanna Love Your Body, You Gotta Get With Your Herbs

As with all things wellness, women’s health can be a bit like the Wild West. That’s why we’re here, to help lead your wellness wagon (or tour bus) to the promised land! Minus the pushy sales tactics or fabricated fakery that mask the murmurs of your internal compass.

Instead, we look to a small collection of powerful, long-established herbs and a handful of sustainable lifestyle adjustments (thanks, Wellness Pyramid) to guide our journeys. But if you want to skip straight to shopping, we don’t blame you!

Explore our collection of pharmacist-crafted, highly targeted herbal formulas for all-around menstrual support like Fem-Cycle and PMS Support — you’ll probably recognize the herbs from this list on the supplement facts panels, too.

And, as always, if you’ve got any questions, concerns, or ideas along the way, we’d love to hear from you — whether via a consult, review, comment, or chat. We do what we do for you, so let us know how we can do better!

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