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WOMEN'S HERBALOGY – Part One

Women have used natural methods such as herbs to heal reproductive problems and to restore health for millennia. Below is a listing of herbs and techniques traditionally used:

BLADDER, KIDNEY, CYSTITIS

Bladder infections are often caused by E coli bacteria in the vagina. This bacteria infects the bladder itself and irritates the walls of the bladder. E coli doubles every 20 minutes or so, therefore it is important to keep your bladder emptied while you work to take care of the symptoms and the infection. Some of the symptoms are cloudy urine, pain in the bladder or kidneys, itching of the genital area, frequent urination with little urine produced and a burning at the opening of the urethra. Some of the causes can be the use of tampons without changing them frequently enough, sex where the partner was not clean, milk products if you are sensitive to lactic acid, holding urine rather than emptying your bladder regularly and not drinking enough water (or too much coffee, soft drinks or alcohol in place of water).

You will want to drink cherry, cranberry and/or lemon juice to clear the kidneys and bladder and to help clear the infection. Be sure to also drink lots of water to keep your bladder cleared.

Taking a hot bath can both relive the itching as well as clean the genital area. Add 1000mg of vitamin C to your vitamin intake for a few days. Be sure to use the bathroom before and after sex. You may want to trade pads for tampons when you have an infection as well. You may also find that taking 6 tabs of Dolomite 3 times a day can hasten your recovery.

Herbs that are helpful for a bladder infection are Uva Ursi as an urinary antiseptic, Cornsilk as both a diuretic (to help you release more urine) and anti-inflammatory, Buchu Leaf as a disinfectant, Cleavers as an antibiotic, Dandelion Root as an antitoxicant and Parsley as an antitoxicant and diurectic. You can use these in a combination both as an infusion (tea) and a wash for the area.

Strawberries, asparagus, fresh watermelons, cherries, lemons, cranberries and tea from watermelon seeds are also helpful to ingest to alleviate the bladder infection.

Kidney Infections are often a side-effect from a bladder infection and are indicative of not intake enough fluids. You’ll have all the symptoms of the bladder infection plus sharp shooting pains in your kidneys. You can use all the above mentioned methods and add Echinacea, Goldenseal Root and Garlic ground together and put in a capsule for a natural antibiotic. Take 2 capsules of this mixture 3 times daily during the infection. Kidney Stones can be formed from having too little acidity in your system. Kidney Stones can cause sharp pains in the kidneys, bladder and urethra as your body tries to pass them. You may also have blood in your urine and/or cloudy urine. For kidneys stones use a daily dosage of B6 (10mg) which controls production of oxalic acid (calcium and this makes stones) and Magnesium (300 mg) which dissolves stones. Be sure to drink lots of fluids (see above juices), and limit your calcium intake. During the infection avoid beets, blueberries, celery, chocolate, grapes, green peppers, spinach, summer squash and caffeinated drinks as well as alcohol. Limit your intake of protein, salt and Vitamin D (it stores calcium in tissues – so take no more than 400mg daily).

Eat sweet potatoes, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, pumpkin, winter squash and beef liver for Vitamin A which helps to regulate acidity in your system.

MENSTRUAL ISSUES

PMS, EMOTIONAL SWINGS

Try taking 100 to 300mg of L-tyrosine (amino acid) before eating followed by one B-complex half an hour later, then eat. Eat small, low-sugar meals several times a day and decrease your intake of dairy, fats, salt, caffeine and alcohol. When you have sex be sure to go until you experience orgasm.

Fluid retention: Take 10mg of B6 daily starting 3 days before your period and continue during your period but upping your dosage to 50mg. You may also want to use extra Vitamin C as an antitoxidant and Vitamin E to help balance your hormones and ease the retention.

Use Bioflavonoids (Vit P) if you have excessive menses.

Try Dolomite 3 times a day if you experience tender breasts.

Herbs you may find helpful are: Black Cohosh (Squaw Root) which balances the reproductive system, soothes and tones the uterus and relieves pain. Black Cohosh acts directly on the tissues as well as indirectly through the central nervous system. Licorice Root helps to produce natural estrogen, helps the body to ovulate; tones the uterus and is an anti-inflammatory-viral-detox. Uva Ursi constricts the blood vessels in your reproductive system reducing menstrual flow. Raspberry Leaf balances hormones, relaxes & tones the uterus while also reducing flow. Passionflower is calming and relieves pain. Chamomile works as a uterine tonic and relaxant while also reducing any inflammation. Fenugreek is a uterine toner, helps to lower blood sugar, aids in hormonal balance, stimulates lactation and reduces menstrual flow. Black Haw Bark strengthens the uterus, is an antispasmodic, works as a sedative to the central nervous system and helps to prevent miscarriage by reducing flow. Saw Palmetto strengthens mammary tissues, soothes the uterus & ovaries, helps with ovulation and with ovarian inflammation. Wild Yam Root regulates menses and therefore ovulation. Kelp is an aid to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as well as kidney, bladder or ovarian cysts.

PAINFUL PERIODS

Use Calcium and Magnesium with Vitamins A & D to absorb excess blood back into the system. Try heat directly on the body over the uterus and on the small of the back. Yarrow helps as an antispasmodic to keep the uterus from spasming and as a sedative to calm it. Angelica can be used as a stimulant to bring on and regulate the menses. Black Cohosh also works as an antispasmodic and a tonic to the nervous system. Blue Cohosh can be used for cervical pain. Both Chamomile and Valerian can be used as relaxants to keep the body from tightening up.

HORMONAL REGULATORS

You can use the following herbs to balance your hormones: Raspberry Leaves which enhance the influence of the pituitary gland, Black Currant regulates the hormones, Ginger stimulates the entire system for better integration, Sage imitates estrogen in the system, helping to regulate it until you get your estrogen levels balanced. You can also use accupressure in a backwards 'L' around and outside the ankle bone on both legs.

DELAYED PERIODS

Raspberry Leaf works as a regulatory herb to get you back on track. Pennyroyal, Rue and Mugwort all work to bring on your period, although they must be used with caution as they can cause miscarriage if pregnancy is the cause of the missed or delayed menstrual period.

AMENORRHEA (no period)

Stress, nutritional deficiency and weight (either over or under) can contribute to the lack of ovulation. If none of the above are the causes, try Black Currant and Calendula as hormonal regulators, Motherwort as a relaxant to your system, Tansy to promote more flow and Sage as it imitates estrogen, helping your body get regular again.

ENDOMETREOSIS occurs when you have excess uterine lining both in and outside of your uterus. If this is a problem, you will have unexpected periods as well as excessive menstrual flow. Cut all caffeine from your diet, add fish three times a week, use heat over the uterus if you feel pain and add a half hour of daily exercise to your regimen. You may also want to try accupressure 2 inches above the inside of your ankle and at the base of your hand where your thumb and index finger bones meet. You can also work to tone your system by using the herbs Fenugreek, Uva Ursi, Saw Palmetto, Black Cohosh (see above for their effects).

NEXT MONTH: Women’s Herbs, Part Two (Infertility and More)