There are many herbs for women’s health and wellness. Most popular are herbs that will help maintain and balance hormones. These herbs have been used for thousands of years in traditional and cultural medicines.
In fact, it is through studying the medicinal properties of natural herbs that modern medicine was able to replicate these properties at scale.
Before we begin with my favorite herbs for balancing female hormones naturally, I’d like to take a moment to review our hormonal system so that I can reference it when I go through the natural herbs later on.
Female hormone cycle
The endocrine system is made of glands that produce hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that send instructions to the various organ systems in order to regulate vital bodily functions.
The way our world moves faster and faster, our bodies are having a hard time keeping up. A high stress lifestyle combined with poor eating habits can wreak havoc on a woman’s delicately balanced hormonal function.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance may include
- uterine fibroids,
- reduced sex drive,
- weight gain,
- changes in the skin,
- water retention,
- hair loss,
- facial hair growth
- and sometimes anxiety and depression.
Women can take some herbs to balance the body’s hormones and support them during their menstrual cycle. Even with the support of adaptogenic herbs such as these on the list, the best way to balance hormone levels is through a lifestyle change.
To support your nervous system and overall hormone health, try these tips:
- Find a balance
- Don’t be excessive
- Intermittent fasting is good
- High nutritious diet
- Don’t push too hard on exercise
- Practice relaxation, meditation, yoga
Herbs that balance female hormones
There are so many different types of healing plants and herbs that can be used for even more types of healing. The beautiful thing about plants is that they work synergistically, so consuming a whole plant (when safe) or a plant with certain other plants (like turmeric and black pepper) can help unlock even more benefits that science is still catching up on.
Where science studies on compound against one treatment at a time so as not to convolute the findings, plant medicine continues to work harmoniously behind the scenes.
In the meantime, here is my not-so-exhaustive list of herbs that I use to balance my own hormones and have a regular menstrual cycle.
Schisandra berry (Schisandra chinensis)
Good for: hormonal imbalances, menopausal symptoms, endocrine disorders
Prep time: Less than one hour
How to take it: As liquid once per evening
Schisandra chinensis is an adaptogen and is good for hormonal balance no matter what stage of life you’re in. In Traditional Chinese medicine, women use this herbal medicine to stay “youthful”. This herb works on the HPA axis, which modulates the entire endocrine system, making this one of the best adaptogenic herbs to balance female hormones naturally.
Many women use Schisandra to increase libido. Not only that, but in TCM it is also know to increase water qi, which reduces vaginal dryness and helps women function sexually into older age. As such, it is also helpful with menopausal symptoms as well.
Schisandra is high in lignans, which help reduce excess estrogen in the body and maintain healthy estrogens. The toxic estrogens are removed from the body and the good estrogens are supported by Schisandra.
To top that off, Schisandra also has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties, making this a healing medicinal plant all around.
How to prepare: Decocted Schisandra Vinegar
- Take 40 grams of dried Schisandra berries.
- Add 400 ml of water to the berries and bring to a boil in a saucepan on the stove. Allow to boil for about 20 to 30 minutes until you have half the amount of liquid.
- Allow to cool down and then strain the berries from the water. You should have about 100 to 150 ml liquid remaining. Dump the berries into a nut milk bag and squeeze the remaining liquid out.
- Mix the final liquid in a bottle with 400ml of apple cider vinegar. Shake well, label the bottle and put into the fridge.
- Take 10ml every night before dinner with a dash of water.
Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
Good for: women with painful menstrual cramps, mood swings due to premenstrual syndrome
Prep time: 45-60 minutes
How to take it: Veggie soup
Peony is truly a wonderful herb that is often used to help ease menstrual cramps, thanks to its anti inflammatory properties. This herb is most known for its antidepressant and antianxiety effects and beneficial effects on gut bacteria. It is crazy helpful against pain and inflammation, making it a good herb to take for period pain. What’s especially interesting for women is that this powerful herb increases blood flow by preventing blood clotting, which helps blood pass more gently during menstruation.
How to prepare: Chinese Ladies Peony soup
- 1 tablespoon dried peony
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 clove of garlic
- the juice of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons miso paste
- 2 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice
- 1 cup of celery stem diced
- one brown onion diced
- a handful of fresh parsley diced
- 1 liter of water
How to make the soup
- Take 1 liter of water and add in your peony root and all ingredients except the celery stem, parsley and lemon juice.
- Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes so all vegetables cook well and the peony is medicinal and semi soft.
- Add in the celery and lemon juice, stir, sprinkle with parsley and eat this soup for your meal.
Vitex (Vitex agnus castus)
Good for: pms symptoms, infertility issues, menopause symptoms
Prep time: Eight weeks
How to take it: As syrup before your period
Vitex, or chaste tree berry, is one of the most popular hormone balancing herbs because of its overall effects on a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is helpful with painful menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms, and even infertility issues.
There are countless studies about the effectiveness of caste tree berry in treating pms symptoms like mood swings, bloating, constipation, and breast tenderness. Vitex improves hormone imbalance that causes infertility, such as when the luteal phase is too short to conceive. This balancing herb also eases menopause symptoms by balancing mood swings and improving sleep. Vitex is a wonderful herb for the entire reproductive system at all stages of life.
How to prepare: Vitex Brandy Syrup
- Take a glass jar with a lid and you will be marinating the Vitex in honey and Brandy for eight weeks. You can choose any sterile container that is dark and where you are able to seal the lid.
- Take 50 grams Vitex berries and marinate them in 300ml of Brandy and 100ml of raw honey. Stir well.
- Label the jar with Vitex Honey Brandy and then put today’s date on the label.
- Wrap the outside of the jar in a tea towel so that it is dark and then place it in your pantry in a dark cool shelf for the allotted time.
- Once the eight weeks is up you can strain the berries from the liquid and use the liquid as a tonic for hormonal symptoms.
- Take a dose of one teaspoon three times a day for the week before your period or daily for menopausal symptoms. (dose can be adjusted to your needs)
Nettle (Nettle Urtica dioica)
Good for: healthy liver, daily vitamin, as an herbal supplement
Prep time: 15 – 20 minutes
How to take it: Cooked, in soups or teas
Nettle is a fantastic cleansing herb that does more for the body than support hormone health. To begin, this plant is nutrient dense with vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. It helps balance blood sugar levels and strong anti inflammatory properties. Adding nettle to soups, teas, and other herbal blends will be like taking a high quality vitamin each day. I like supporting my immune system around my period since our immune systems are generally less effective around this time.
As for women, this healing herb lowers blood pressure and reduces inflammation, making it a welcome herb during menstruation.
Don’t eat fresh nettle leaves: Fresh nettle leaves can be toxic to some people. They secrete some acids–acetylcholine, histamine, serotonin, leukotrienes and formic acid–which can be problematic. These acids are destroyed by cooking in a decoction, making it safe to consume. You can use fresh nettles leaves in herbal teas and infusions.
The only contraindication is pregnant women as nettle can trigger uterine contractions which can result in miscarriage.
How to prepare – Making Nettle Decoction
- Take 20 grams and add it to 500ml of water and simmer for 15 minutes. It’s a short decoction which is enough for the leaf to remove all its active constituents.
- Strain and use the liquid to replace water in any recipe you like.
This will keep in the fridge for three days max. So it’s best to make it fresh.
Rose (Rosa canina)
Good for: calming menstrual symptoms, DIY skincare
Prep time: 3 – 5 minutes
How to take it: As a tea
Rose is a calming herb that I love using in my DIY skincare recipes because of the anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. I recently started adding it to my tea (along with dried lavender and dried raspberry leaf tea) to have the same effects on the inside. In fact, rose helps us relax the nervous system by calming anxiety and reducing depression. It also helps ease pain from menstrual cramps.
How to prepare: Traditional Persian Rose Tea
Try a Traditional Persian Tea with equal parts black tea and rose buds. Add in a sprinkle of cardamon and then when the tea is made add honey and plant milk.
- Take 2 teaspoons of black tea and 2 teaspoons of dried rose petals and add to your tea strainer with 1 teaspoon of cardamom pod powder.
- Top up with 500ml of boiling water and allow to infuse for ten minutes.
- Now pour into your cups and add milk and honey to taste.
I also just love plain rose water. Simply add a handful of rose petals to a big jug of water and leave it overnight. Strain the water from the rose petals and drink the water.
- Take a big jug of fresh delicious and clean pure water
- Add in a big handful of fresh or dried rose petals.
- Allow to infuse overnight and then strain off the roses in the morning.
- Drink the water all day and feel the rose energy in your body!
I like putting mine into my portable tea infuser. This way, it’s ready to drink right away and I can take it with me. I love adding a pinch of dried lavender as well.
Good for: any female hormone imbalances, improving fertility
Prep time: 20 – 30 minutes
How to take it: as tea or herbal supplements
Black cohosh is most known for reducing hot flashes during menopause, but it improves hormonal imbalance and infertility issues as well. Black cohosh treats all sorts of ailments related to female hormone balance, including fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and premenstrual symptoms.
How to prepare: Decocted Black Cohosh
- Take 20 grams of dried black cohosh root and combine with 32 ounces of filtered water.
- Bring to a soft boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. The liquid should be cut by about a third.
- Strain the liquid and store in the fridge or a cool, dry place.
- The liquid will keep for only 48 hours so make it fresh. Drink one cup one to three times a day.