Plants are nature’s healers. For millennia, people all over the world have used them in the fight against disease. In China, traditional medicine still accounts for around 40 per cent of all health care. In India, most of the rural-based population use Ayurveda and medicinal plants as front-line treatments. Aromatherapy, homeopathy, alternative medicine… call it what you will, it has been proven effective time and time again. We’re not suggesting you abandon the OTC drugs that work for you, but backing up the ibuprofen with some of these natural home remedies may comfort and soothe, just when you need it most.
PMS: Evening primrose oil
So called for its yellow flowers that bloom in the evening, this powerful plant is used to create a golden oil rich in omega-6-fatty acids. One of these in particular – gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) – has been shown to reducing the bloating and mood swings associated with PMS. But it’s not an overnight fix! You need to take it regularly for up to six months to see results.
Cramps: Chamomile and lavender
The flowering herb chamomile has anti-spasmodic properties, which research suggests may prove beneficial for period cramps. Combine this with its anti-inflammatory properties, and its general soothing-ness, and it’s a winner at bedtime. Lavender oil used in aromatherapy massage has also come up in studies as helpful for painful periods and migraines.
Sleeplessness: Aloe vera
As we discussed here, your menstrual cycle can stop you getting a good night’s sleep. Add to that the loss of iron, which can leave you feeling even more run-down and tired. Aloe Vera will help you sleep more easily, because unlike other plants it expels oxygen at night, making it a whiz at purifying the air around you. Yep, you don’t need to eat it, just have a plant in your room.
Late period: Parsley
Period running a bit late? Sometimes you may just want to get on with it. Parsley, contains high levels of vitamin C as well as apiol, which may help to soften the cervix and stimulate contractions in your uterus. You can drink it steeped in boiling water as a tea. (Note: Apiol can be toxic in large amounts. You should not drink parsley the tea if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have kidney problems.)
All-rounder: Raspberry leaf
Raspberry leaf is sometimes referred to as the ‘woman’s herb’. Drinking tea made from it is credited with helping a myriad of so-called issues – from PMS, cramps and irregular periods to bloating, breast tenderness and sugar craving. Much of this is anecdotal, but it does contain fragarine, a compound that helps tighten muscles in the pelvic area, which may help reduce cramping. It’s also delicious with a drop of honey.