Periods are no fun, hands down. No woman is going to argue this point. The lead-up to the period can be even worse for some. Breast tenderness, moodiness, bloating, headaches, and other symptoms can last for a week or more before your actual period begins.
However uncomfortable menstruation can be, there are ways to ease the monthly pain. One way is to embrace the use of adaptogenic herbs that work to bring balance to the body.
What are adaptogenic herbs?
Adaptogenic herbs regulate cortisol and help to balance hormones, which gives the body the ability to manage stress better. They are like a pre-programmed thermostat that adjusts to create the perfect room temperature without any nasty side effects. In addition to regulating cortisol levels, here are just a few things that adaptogenic herbs can do to help minimize PMS and period discomfort.
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve adrenal function
- Support the immune system
- Boost physical and mental endurance
- Improve communication between the brain and the adrenals
Here are the top seven adaptogenic herbs that can help you manage PMS and get through your next period:
Hot flashes and night sweats aren’t just for perimenopause. Many people get hot and sweaty before their period. The root cause is fluctuations in estrogen. Maca grows in the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains in central Peru where its root has been cultivated as a vegetable for over 3000 years. This relative of the radish smells like butterscotch and is valued for its medicinal properties. This potent root can help balance hormones and reduce PMS symptoms while supporting the immune system and thyroid. Maca generally comes in capsule or powder form.
Many women experience excessive fatigue before and during their period. Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial flowering plant that is found in the Arctic regions of Asia, Europe, and North America, where it grows as a groundcover. This adaptogen herb can help manage stress hormones while boosting energy levels. In addition, Rhodiola extract helps promote healthy progesterone.
Ever have that pre-period lack of focus? Your mind wanders, and simple tasks become monumental endeavors. A lack of focus and inability to be productive just before menstruation is common. Siberian ginseng, also known as Russian ginseng or wild pepper, can help improve energy and boost focus and concentration. In addition, research also shows that this herb can help alleviate anxiety and depression resulting from stress and as a bonus, increase sex drive. Note: don’t use it if you have high blood pressure.
If you are already stressed, PMS can send you into a spiral. Gotu Kola can help. This small perennial herbaceous plant hails from the wetlands of Asia and is also known as Centella Asiatica. This herb will help boost adrenal function so that you have the energy to get through your period
This strange-looking medicinal mushroom helps balance blood sugar, which is generally the root cause of cravings before and during your period. If keeping your hands out of the chip bag is difficult for you, this might be a good supplement to try. In addition to helping level out blood sugar, Cordyceps Sinensis also helps support your adrenals and improve liver function. Research supports the use of this mushroom as an antioxidant and inflammation buster as well.
Many women report a severe battle with the sandman prior to and during their period. Ashwagandha helps deflate cortisol and promotes a restful and calm state. Being wired and tired at the same time creates a stressful situation for the body and Ashwagandha can help to reduce this feeling. Plus it can decrease anxiety, support healthy sleep, and improve memory, energy, and libido. In addition, it can also help to reduce heavy bleeding during your period and eliminate uterine fibroids when used over a long period of time. Note: Ashwagandha is a member of the nightshade family, so avoid if you are sensitive to this family.
If oily skin and breakouts plague you before and during your period, testosterone may be to blame. Licorice root works to block the production of androgens that can cause pimples to pop up once a month. In addition to fighting microbes and viruses, this root can increase energy and reduce inflammation. Note: If you have high blood pressure, you should not take this root
A word of caution: As with any herbal supplement, it is always best to speak to your health care practitioner. Plants are very powerful.
Susan Patterson, CBHC and Master Gardener