Botanicals for Bodies: PMS
How to Use Botanicals to Relieve PMS
Ah, who doesn’t love the raging hormones, the tiny knives in your uterus, and the pubescent pimples that magically continue to reappear still in your late 20’s? If you have periods, you don’t need further explanation to know what we’re talking about. Each cycle, whether it’s welcomed or not, the blood fairy comes to make itself at home in our bodies. Each cycle, my body acts like it has no idea how to cope with this phenomena and completely loses it’s shit. I’ve spent years of my life popping Advil like it’s candy when the period pains are particularly strong. I know it’s bad for me, but when my uterus wants to act like it’s packing it’s shit and taking the rest of my organs out with it, I’m willing to do just about anything to make the pain stop.
But unfortunately, Advil only helps with the cramps. There’s still the major mood swings, the depressive-like state of mind, the fatigue, the lack of motivation, and the raging desire to stick my face under a chocolate fountain. Yes, somehow I won the lottery and got every single symptom times 20 (to match my dramatic personality I’m sure). To try and find more natural ways to combat these symptoms, I’ve turned to herbals for some relief. I’ve already noticed that I tend to crave more herbal teas when my blood sister comes through. I’ve also realized that smoking either the Airplane Mode or Muse spliffs help put the jitters at bay. So I dove deeper into herbs and their specific effects on the PMS-ing body, and put all my findings below in a nice little informative blog post, so you too can calmly, tell little red satan to fu** off.
I also want to quickly clarify a common misconception: PMS stands for pre-menstrual symptoms. They are the symptoms you experience up to 14 days before the start of your actual bleeding. It is not the period itself.
Peppermint, consumed in almost any form (i.e. tea, oils, smoked) have shown to significantly reduce period cramps. Not only cramps, but also nausea and diarrhea were reduced in a study done with 127 girls from Hamadan University of Medical Sciences. Peppermint is one of the most commonly used herbs in ancient medicine due to its analgesic properties (a world I recently learned means “acting to relieve pain”). In a second study done by the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, it was revealed that peppermint reduced the severity of the “total, emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms”.
Pregnant women have been using Ginger to fight nausea for centuries. Ginger holds anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties, making it a common natural remedy for reducing internal swelling (like when you’re on your period). A small study also found that consuming 250mg of ginger four times a day for three days straight was as effective as NSAIDS, an anti-inflammatory drug, at reducing period pains.
Lavender is well known for its calming and relaxing effects. Inhaling aromatic lavender oil has been proven to significantly decrease depression and confusion, two symptoms commonly present during PMS. Other negative emotions such as tension, anxiety, anger, and fatigue decreased significantly, as proven in a study done by NCBI, as well. So while peppermint and ginger can help reduce the physical pains of periods, lavender alleviates the emotional symptoms.
Raspberry Leaf comes with a little nickname – “The Woman’s Herb”, because it’s packed with amazing benefits for women’s reproductive health. Vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron can all be found in this magical leaf. Research has found that these components can relieve PMS symptoms such as cramping, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Raspberry leaves also contain a compound called fragarine, which helps tighten and tone the muscles around the pelvic area, and in return reduces cramping during PMS when muscles tend to spazz.
If you suffer from bloating during PMS and your period, then Dandelion is the answer for you. Dandelion helps wash out excess liquids in your system, thereby relieving you of your (sometimes very painful) inflated belly. Studies have shown that consuming Dandelion significantly increases your urine output. I know you’re thinking: the last thing I want is to visit the bathroom even more often when I’m on my period. But if it’s for that sweet deflation of the tummy, it just might be worth it.
Last but by far not the least, we’ve got the good ol’ hemp plant here. Hemp has been proven over and over again in both ancient and modern medicine to significantly reduce chronic pain, quell anxiety, and lift your mood. Basically, it’s a plant that attacks all PMS symptoms, both physical and emotional. Lucky for us, we have literal cannabis professionals who founded BARBARI, one of whom elaborately explained how hemp works against PMS in this interview with Thinx. It’s a great read that recommends and breaks cannabis down to the strain per symptom.
And there ya have it, folx. Remember that the body is working double time during these weeks, so it’s only natural to feel a little overwhelmed and fatigued. As your body flows through the cycles, pamper yourself with lots of rest and water, and feed the cravings that make you happy. Whatever you need to be kind to your hard- working body. Let go of the things you can’t control, and handle all else one at a time.