From the earliest times, herbs have been used by women to support various areas of health and well-being. From providing pain relief from menstrual cramps to supporting more restful sleep to keeping skin youthful looking, herbs for women can be a safe and natural way to address common concerns while living a natural lifestyle. Let’s take a look at three well-known botanicals that have been used for ages to balance and restore women's bodies, minds and spirits.
Chaste tree berry
Also known by its scientific name, Vitex agnus-castus, or simply chasteberry, chaste tree berry is known for promoting a woman’s hormonal and reproductive health.* Despite its name, chaste tree berry does not diminish sexual desire, and it in no way causes women to become chaste.
Modern research has confirmed what was widely believed in ancient times – that the active compounds in chaste tree berry can indeed support a woman’s menstrual cycle and help alleviate the discomforts associated with it.* The plant’s active compounds include alkaloids, antioxidant flavonoids and diterpenoids. In Germany, chaste tree berry is often used for both menstrual and breast health. It is also frequently suggested by naturopathic doctors in the United States and elsewhere. In addition, chaste tree berry is the active ingredient in the well-known product Fertility Blend for Women, which was researched at Stanford University.*
The recommended dose of chaste-tree berry is 800 milligrams once or twice a day.
This plant’s botanical name is Withania somnifera, but the herb is better known as Indian ginseng because it has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic health practices. Ashwaganda root has been traditionally used for health purposes as a geriatric tonic and an adaptogen (a substance or compound that can support your body’s ability to adapt to stress). The most important active ingredients of ashwagandha are alkaloids and lactones that are in a category of compounds known as withanolides.*
Ashwagandha root has the potential to promote well-being in a number of ways. It can provide nutritional support during times when you are under physical or mental stress. In addition, it can help protect against damage from free radicals; it may support optimal levels of your sex hormones; and it can also support healthy moods when taken in conjunction with a standard multi-vitamin.*
The usual recommended dose of ashwagandha is 470 milligrams, taken twice to three times daily. Look for a good quality standardized extract (standardized to 1.5 percent withanolides); this will guarantee that each dose gives you specific levels of the plant’s active ingredients.
A centuries-old natural remedy, Astragalus membranaceus is an herb native to China. The plant’s root has long been used as a restorative tonic and an adaptogen. As a traditional means of supporting an overall sense of well-being, astralagus root may help to return the body to a state of homeostasis, or balance, after exposure to stressful stimuli, whether externally or internally induced.*
Astragalus root is often used in traditional Chinese medicine in combination with other adaptogenic herbs (including ginseng, licorice and angelica); it can also be made into a soup, or used in strong teas. The active constituents in astragalus root include polysaccharides, flavonoids, amino acids, saponins and other important trace elements.
The typical recommended dose of astralagus is 1,500 milligrams taken two to three times daily.
A final note of caution about the three herbs for women outlined here: women who are pregnant or lactating, as well as hypoglycemics, diabetics, those with known health conditions and those on pharmaceutical medications are advised to consult with a licensed physician (ideally a licensed naturopathic physician) or pharmacist before taking dietary supplements. They should also be kept out of reach of children.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.