Welcome to the world of herbal medicine. For centuries, herbal remedieshave been great health allies, especially when it comes to relieving manyhealth conditions common to women. If you already rely on herbalremedies, then you know how beneficial they can be. If you haven'tincorporated them into your life, let us guide you in choosing herbs andusing them safely.
No natural remedy can take the place of a healthy lifestyle, which includesgood nutrition, regular exercise, and managing the stress in your life.Herbs work on many levels to help maintain your health and to easetroublesome or painful symptoms. According to Christopher Hobbs,AllHerb.com's chief herbalist, "Herbs work with your body, not on it, asdo pharmaceuticals and drugs. Herbal remedies encourage the body toheal itself."
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Used for: Hot flashes
European doctors recommend this herb to relieve hot flashes, depression,and other conditions caused by decreasing levels of estrogen duringmenopause, notes Hobbs in his book Women's Herbs, Women's Health.For maximum effect, take black cohosh regularly and use it in combinationwith vitex (chasteberry).
Capsules: Take three 500 to 600 mg capsules of the whole herb per day.
Tincture: Take 10 to 25 drops as often as every four hours. Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
No contraindications or drug interactions are reported, although some women experience stomach upset from using black cohosh. Christopher Hobbs suggests taking it for no longer than four to six months at a time. Stop for at least a week before you resume taking black cohosh. It's also helpful to take a break from the herb for a few days each month. Do not take during pregnancy.
Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus)
Used for: Menstrual cramps
As the name suggests, this herb is remarkably effective in relievingmenstrual cramps by relaxing the uterine muscles. It is also used toregulate bleeding during the menstrual cycle and cramping that may occurduring pregnancy and after childbirth. Our chief herbalist, ChristopherHobbs, recommends combining cramp bark with valerian to relievecramps even more effectively.
Tincture: Take three to five droppersful, three to five times per day. Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
No contraindications or drug interactions are reported.
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Used for: Mild urinary tract infections
Cranberries have a long history of successfully treating urinary tractinfections (UTIs). They have been proven effective in rendering bacteriaunable to adhere to the bladder's lining. Cranberries are also used toprevent kidney stones and "bladder gravel" as well as to remove toxinsfrom the blood.
Capsules: Take up to nine 400 to 500 mg capsules per day or up to 15 capsules for intensive treatment.
Food: Take 3 to 10 ounces of fresh fruit per day.
Juice: Take 5 to 20 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail per day.
Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
No contraindications or drug interactions are reported.
Dong quai (Angelica sinesis)
Used for: PMS, menstrual and menopausal disorders
"Dong quai is one of the most useful of the female tonic herbs," writesrenowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar in her book Healing Herbs forWomen. As a uterine strengthener, dong quai is primarily effective forpainful and/or irregular menstruation and symptoms of PMS. It is also ahighly recommended way to ease into and endure menopause. Try dongquai for anemia, debility, and general weakness, as well as angina andother circulatory disorders.
Capsules: Take up to six 500 to 600 mg capsules per day.
Tincture: Take one or two droppersful twice daily for up to nine months. If desired, take a three-day break each month. Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
Do not take during pregnancy or while nursing.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Used for: Breast cancer prevention; source of estrogen
Compared with Japanese women, American women experience far higherrates of death from breast cancer. The typical Asian diet, which is high inphytoestrogen isoflavanoid-rich foods (soy, broccoli, and many othervegetables) may be partly responsible. Red clover contains isoflavonesthat have estrogenic activity, including genistein, diadzen, formononetin,and biochanin A. Just like soy, red clover is rich in plant sterols,hormonelike compounds called phytoestrogens. ("Phyto" means plant,while estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone.) Phytoestrogenicisoflavones are increasingly recognized as a significant natural source ofcomplementary estrogens. Red clover is a very rich source of thesecompounds.
Capsules: Take up to five 430 mg capsules per day.
Tea: Steep 1 tablespoon of dried flowers in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Tincture: Take 5 to 30 drops up to four times a day. Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
Do not take during pregnancy.
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Used for: Mild depression
Depression is a serious condition that warrants serious attention from yourhealth care practitioner. For mild depression, however, try St. John'swort. Well-controlled studies now indicate that it offers impressive resultsin alleviating symptoms of mild depression. Researchers have concludedthat St. John's wort has no toxic side effects. People who have switchedfrom commonly prescribed antidepressants to St. John's wort report thatthey no longer suffer from weight gain, gastrointestinal upsets, feelings ofbeing dull and lifeless, and loss of sexual appetite. Note: St. John's wort isnot a "happy pill." Take it only if you are suffering from mild depression,not as a way to prevent it.
Capsules: Take 300 mg three times per day for products standardized to 0.3% hypericin. Tincture: Take 15 to 40 drops up to three times per day. Or follow the recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
Hypericin from the flowers of St. John's wort may cause photodermatitis in people with fair skin. (They break out in hives or blisters when exposed to sunlight.) If you are taking St. John's wort, stay out of the sun.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Used for: Insomnia and anxiety
Valerian is usually an herbalist's first remedy for calming the nervoussystem and promoting healthy sleep. Widely used in Europe as a mildsedative, it works as a sleep aid in cases of insomnia, excitability, andexhaustion, and it is also effective for nervousness and anxiety. It is oftenused in conjunction with cramp bark to ease menstrual cramps.
Capsules: Take 300 to 400 mg a day for products standardized to 0.5% essential oil. Take one hour before bedtime as a sleep aid.
Tincture: Take 20 to 60 drops per day.
Or follow the recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
Although some people may experience temporary stomach upset, valerian is generally safe. Avoid using it during pregnancy.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)
Used for: PMS and menstrual and menopausal disorders
Even the ancient Romans used vitex medicinally. This age-old herb helps relieve symptoms of PMS and many hormonal imbalances, such as moodswings, cramps, and bloating. It's also prescribed in Europe for uterinefibroids and to ease the symptoms of menopause. Vitex is effective forhelping women make the hormonal adjustment off birth control pills. InGermany, vitex is used not only for disorders of the menstrual cycle, suchas heavy or too-frequent periods and suppressed menses, but also forinfertility, pressure and swelling in the breasts, and related conditions.
Capsule: Take up to three 650 mg capsules per day.
Tincture: Take 15 to 40 drops as directed. Or follow recommendations given by the manufacturer or your health care practitioner.
Vitex may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. Do not take it during pregnancy except under the guidance of an experienced herbalist.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluatedby the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. If you are taking anymedication or are under treatment for any disease, pleaseconsult your health care professional about potential interactionsor other possible complications before taking any of these products. If you are pregnant or lactating, please consult withyour health care professional before taking any medication ordietary supplements.
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