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This weeks subject in my herb column: HERBS ARE NATURE'S MEDICINE, is herbs for various WOMEN'S LIFE CYCLES, which are very important to creating a balanced and harmonious lifestyle. Because our bodies go through such profound changes during pregnancy/childbirth, the comfort and ease of pregnancy and labor can be facilitated with herbs specifically suited for the woman's feminine essence.
Every woman should drink 1-3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea daily. It is a specific tonic herb for the entire reproductive system, regardless of your age (after the onset of the menses). Following are herbal suggestions for various stages (pre and post) of pregnancy/childbirth.
Squaw Vine (use root)
To alleviate symptoms of jaundice, anemia, constipation and toxemia: alfalfa and red raspberry leaves. To reduce acidity and help with iron assimilation: borage, nettle and clover leaves. As a general tonic: comfrey. To tone uterine muscles: red raspberry, apple peels, mint, blackberry and peach leaves (also reduces morning sickness). To aid during childbirth: basil, lavender, nutmeg, red raspberry; squaw vine (taken during last two weeks). To expel the placenta: chammomile, angelica root, pennyroyal, basil. Afterbirth, to restore the blood: alfalfa, comfrey; to heal placenta site: comfrey, plantain; to stop excess bleeding: yarrow, shepherd's purse, nettle. Other birthing herbs: blue cohosh, lobelia, squaw vine, sassafras. Breastfeeding: bayberry, milkwort, chammomile, fennel, hops, blessed thistle, lavender. To increase milk production: fennel seeds, alfalfa, borage, anise/star anise seeds. To decrease milk: mugwort, sage, mullein, comfrey – for sore breasts use these as a leaf compress or tea.
AVOID DURING PREGNANCY: tansy, pennyroyal, rue, angelica. Do not take cohoshes (blue and black), pennyroyal or tansy in excess and avoid pennyroyal and rue during pregnancy as they may cause miscarriage. For vaginitis or yeast infection, use Golden Seal, chamomile, sage, comfrey: these may also be taken together. For severe conditions drink 1 cup 1-3 times per day, otherwise one cup every other day. As a mild, general tonic to soothe the nerves during menses: clover, chamomile, valerian root and mugwort. Parsley can be taken to increase menstrual flow (and also to relieve cramps) along with tansy and true unicorn root. To decrease the menstrual flow: cranesbill, white pine bark, yarrow, white oak bark, juniper berries, bay leaves, black cohosh, skullcap, rue and pennyroyal. Also avoid juniper berries and parsley with kidney problems or inflammation.
A general tonic for menopause: Blessed thistle, mugwort, rye, sage; to soothe the nerves: hops, valerian root, chamomile and lemon balm; to relieve menopausal symptoms: wild yam, fenugreek, gotu kola, licorice root and sarsaparilla. For best results make a tea combining one herb from each of these groups with an herb high in minerals (dandelion, alfalfa or borage) and drink a cup daily. Do not take cohoshes (blue and black), pennyroyal or tansy in excess and avoid pennyroyal and rue during pregnancy as they may cause miscarriage.AVOID DURING PREGNANCY: tansy, pennyroyal, rue, angelica.
Look up any of these herbs for further explanations of each herb. Suggested reading: The Way of Herbs, by Michael Tierra, and for advanced reading The School of Natural Healing by Dr. John Christopher.