Monday, February 27, 2012

PLANTS FOR FEMALE PROBLEMS

In late February it's calving season out on the Greenbrier Valley grasslands. We don't have such predictable reproductive cycles except nine months after the lights go out. Still, nature provides plants to help both bovine and human hormonal issues. 


Black cohosh




Black cohosh root (Actaea racemosa) helps menopausal symptoms and joint pain. Dig the large root in the fall when it's tall flower stalk is still visible to avoid confusion with toxic white baneberry  (Actaea alba) which has similar foliage but a short flower stalk. Other estrogen promoting plants are red clover (Trifolium pratense)and evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis).






Wild yam root (Dioscorea villosa, D. quaternata) helps menstrual irregularities and muscle cramps. Young plants have three or more heart shaped leaves in a radial whirl before vining out. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is another progesterone promoting plant but also helps to tone the uterus, making it helpful for many female problems.



Wild yam (Dioscorea quaternata


HERBALIST'S NOTE: Be sure to scrub and chop the roots of black cohosh and wild yam soon after digging. They become rock hard with drying, making it difficult to expose the flesh to alcohol with tincturing.



TINTURE FORMULA'S FOR FEMALE PROBLEMS
(adapted from Hoffman D. Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press 2003)


Dysmenorrhea:
  • black cohosh - 1 part
  • wild yam - 1 part
  • black haw (Viburnum opulus) - 1 part

Endometriosis
  • chasteberry - 2 parts
  • black cohosh - 1 part
  • skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) - 1 part
  • wild yam - 1 part
Fibroids:
  • blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) - 2 parts
  • periwinkle (Vinca major) - 2 parts
  • black cohosh - 1 part
  • chasteberry - 1 part
  • cleavers (Galium aparine) - 1 part
  • wild yam - 1 part
Menopause:
  • chasteberry - 2 parts
  • black cohosh - 1 part
  • St. John's wort - 1 part

 
Dried chasteberries for infusion or tincturing




DOCTOR'S NOTE: Avoid estrogen promoting herbs (black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose oil) with a history of estrogen sensitive breast cancer.


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