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6 Must-Use Herbs to Balance Hormones

Regulate your cycle, prevent PMS and stop heavy, painful periods

Suffering with heavy periods or an erratic cycle?
Are you plagued with PMS or hormonal acne?
Experiencing agonising period pain every month?

Why not try herbal medicine.

Here are six amazing herbs to balance hormones to address PMS, hormonal acne, erratic cycles and painful, heavy periods.

Herbs for hormonal acne and PMS

The cause of hormonal acne and PMS is often due to hormonal imbalance which is influenced by dietary and lifestyle factors, stress, poor blood sugar regulation, exposure to environmental toxins and reduced detoxification capabilities. All of these aspects need to be addressed when managing PMS and acne.

Herbal medicine is highly effective for tackling hormonal imbalance, as well as supporting the stress response, improving liver and gut function (to improve detoxification) and regulating blood sugar levels.

The following herbs are highly effective for addressing PMS and hormonal acne.

Vitex agnus-castus (also known as Chaste tree) is all-round excellent herb for hormonal issues in women. It has remarkable hormone balancing activity and has been used by herbalists for centuries for menstrual issues, regulating cycles, boosting fertility and to support women during menopause. Vitex works by facilitating the hypothalamus gland (the gland in the brain that controls the hormonal system), rather than having any hormonal compounds of its own. It is known to balance a woman’s oestrogen/progesterone ratio (the main reproductive hormones) by raising progesterone and consequently lowering oestrogen. So, vitex is particularly helpful for low progesterone conditions including short cycles, irregular periods, PMS and acne. Vitex can also lower prolactin levels and increase LH (luteinising hormone). High prolactin is linked to infertility and a cessation of periods. LH is the hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle and trigger ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries).

Vitex is best taken as a liquid tincture or tablet first thing in the morning. A herbalist can recommend the most appropriate dose after taking a full case history from you.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a powerful detoxifying and cleansing herb that neutralises toxins and facilitates the removal of waste products from the body via the liver, kidneys and gallbladder. Dandelion is also good for stimulating the bowels due to its mild laxative effect which helps eliminate toxins via stools. For hormonal acne and PMS, dandelion works by breaking down excess oestrogen and eliminating it from the body. When oestrogen builds up and is not excreted, it can cause a number of hormonal issues. Dandelion also exerts an anti-inflammatory action which can help with hormonal acne.

You can drink dandelion tea using the dried herbs (here is a dandelion tea recipe) or as a liquid tincture, capsule or tablet.

Herbs for irregular periods

As already mentioned above, Vitex is a great herb for irregular periods and erratic cycles. Two others herbs that are often used to regulate cycles include White Peony and Dong Quai.

White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) is a wonderful herb for hormonal and menstrual complaints. It has shown to increase low progesterone, reduce high testosterone and regulate other hormones including oestrogen and prolactin. When all of these hormones are out of balance, menstrual irregularities can occur. White Peony not only balances hormones, it also helps to improve circulation in the pelvis area and tone the uterus which helps build healthy blood flow to regulate menstruation. White Peony is particularly helpful for those with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome), PMS, bleeding in between periods and painful menstrual cramps due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions. 

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is known as the female ginseng due to its many therapeutic actions on the female reproductive system. Considered a blood builder and tonic, Dong Quai is used by herbalists to enrich a woman’s blood supply, strengthen the uterus, promote circulation and increase blood flow to the reproductive system – all of which are key for a regular, healthy menstrual cycle. Dong Quai contains a compound called coumarins which have shown to relax the muscles of the uterus and reduce inflammation which makes it a great herb for menstrual cramps. It is also helpful for PMS and menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.

Both of these herbs are best taken as a liquid tincture, which is more potent than other herbal preparations. Herbalists tend to use a combination of different herbs within one formula when addressing hormonal complaints.

Herbs for heavy, painful periods

Heavy, painful periods can be debilitating for many women, often compromising their day to day lives. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to speak to a qualified natural therapist (such as a naturopath or herbalist) to determine the root cause as it’s often multifactorial and can vary woman to woman.

Two common herbs used to address painful, heavy periods are Shepherd’s Purse and Yarrow.

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is a uterine antihaemorrhagic herb meaning it can help to regulate or stop excessive menstrual bleeding. It’s particularly helpful for women who haemorrhage during childbirth or bleed postpartum as it effectively stems the blood flow, preventing excess blood loss. Shepherd’s Purse contains specific compounds that stimulate circulation, balance hormones and exert an anti-inflammatory effect which can reduce the pain associated with a woman’s menses.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is another antihaemorrhagic herb that has been used for centuries to treat bleeding wounds. Due to its astringent properties (ability to constrict tissues), yarrow is very effective at stopping excessive blood flow and tightening/strengthening tissues in the uterus – both of which help to regulate heavy menstrual flow. Yarrow is often used by herbalists to treat painful menstrual cramps as it stimulates circulation and exerts an antispasmodic (reducing muscle spasms) and anti-inflammatory action. When the muscles of the uterus suddenly contract (cramp up) and there is also stagnation (poor blood flow) and inflammation, a woman will experience painful, cramp sensations during her menses.

For heavy and painful periods, Shepherd’s Purse and Yarrow are best taken as a liquid tincture or capsule for a therapeutic dose. Consult with a qualified herbalist who can advise you on the most appropriate dose for you.

Balance your hormones with herbs

Balance your hormones naturally using herbal medicine to regulate your cycle and prevent heavy periods, painful cramps and uncomfortable hormonal acne. To learn more about how you can use herbs to improve hormonal health, check out CNM’s short online course Herbs for Everyday Living.

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Blog/Article content reflects the author's research and diverse opinions, not necessarily CNM's views. Items may not be regularly updated, so represent the best available understanding at the time of publication.

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