Our twenties, thirties, and forties are filled with activity, creativity, and change. Our ever-shifting hormones and, often, lifestyle choices can create health imbalances; the ones addressed here are especially common. Seek out the recommended dried herbs, tinctures (liquid extracts), and capsules in natural-foods stores or online at jeansgreens.com or mountainroseherbs.com.
Plus: 24 Fresh Herb Recipes
Vitex, a traditional herb for PMS, has been shown in studies to ease the condition. Other helpful herbs include licorice root, dong quai, and black cohosh, which balance hormones, along with mineral-rich nettle leaf. Skip the licorice if you have high blood pressure or kidney disease, or if you take heart medicine. Try for at least three cycles for best results.
Given all the worrisome news about over-the-counter painkillers, we advise women to search for natural solutions. Luckily, ginger root's warming, antispasmodic properties can melt away menstrual pain. Also try cramp bark, long used for easing cramp pain. The triple therapy outlined below should yield quick results. (Note: Chronic or severe pelvic pain can signal serious conditions; see a health-care professional if you experience more than passing pain.)
Plus: Cramp-Relief Tea Recipe
The menopause cycle often marks a seismic shift: Children leave home, parents become dependent, and relationships sometimes change. (Who says midlife crises are just for men?) Little seems stable, especially our hormones. Considered the norm for several decades, hormone replacement therapy comes with health risks and should be a last resort. Herbal allies, coupled with lifestyle changes, can tame the roller coaster. Generally caused by shifting hormones during perimenopause, hot flashes are easy to modulate with herbs. Black cohosh, used for centuries to tame menopausal symptoms, has been shown in studies to ease symptoms. Sage, blue vervain, and motherwort also help regulate the body's temperature, and vitex and wild yam work to balance hormones.
When the hormones that course through our blood in our early years taper off, our risk of heart disease rises. The herb hawthorn, used for hundreds of years, has been shown to help conditions like congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Since hawthorn helps the heart in so many ways, we recommend it for all menopause-age women. Herbs like motherwort and schizandra also support heart health.
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