Herbs can offer gentle relief through the various passages of womanhood. Many herbs are contraindicated during pregnancy and nursing. See your health care practitioner for recommendations specific to you.

Herb

Symptoms

Action/Precautions

Black cohosh
(Cimicifuga racemosa)

Hot flashes, vaginal dryness

Mimics the effects of estrogen, so it helps estrogen deficiency that causes hot flashes and vaginal dryness

Chasteberry
(Vitex agnus-castus)

Irregular periods, mood swings

Regulates hormones, alleviating menstrual irregularities, depression and cyclic breast discomfort.

Dong quai
(Angelica sinensis)

Irregular periods, cramps

Regulates hormones; relaxes uterine muscles; relieves cramps. Avoid with heavy menstural flow.

Ginkgo
(Ginkgo biloba)

Fluid retention, breast pain

Alleviates bloating and breast pain. Improves perimenopause-related "brain fog." Don't take with blood-thinning medications.

Hops
(Humulus lupulus)

Sleep disturbances

Induces sleep. Contains B vitamins, which are calming during night sweats. Avoid taking with sedative drugs.

Licorice root
(Glycyrrhiza glabra; Glycyrrhiza uralensis)

Fatigue

Build energy; regulates blood sugar. Avoid with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or kidney disease.

Motherwort
(Leonora cardiaca)

Mood swings

Calms the nervous system.

Nettles
(Urtica dioica)

Sleep disturbances

Promotes relaxation by strengthening the adrenals. Helps restore minerals excreted during night sweats and hot flashes.

Red clover
(Trifolium pratense)

Hot flashes

Regulates hormone levels, alleviating hot flashes.

Shepherd's purse
(Capsells bursa-pastoris)

Heavy bleeding

Contracts the uterus, helping to alleviate long-term or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Siberian ginseng
(Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Fatigue

Increases energy, vitality and endurance. Builds immunity and helps the body adapt to stress

Sources: Natural Health Bible (Prima) edited by Steven Bratman, M.D., and David Kroll, Ph.D.; The Herbs of Life (The Crossing Press) by Lesley Tierra, L.Ac.; Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (Ash Tree Publishing) by Susun Weed.