Herbal Healing for Women: A Beginner’s Guide to Using Herbs For Natural Wellness
Since ancient times, there have been women who cultivated, harvested, and wildcrafted plants, herbs, mushrooms, berries, and flowers for medicine and nourishment. The history of women herbalists has roots all over the world.
Today, quality organic and wildcrafted herbs are available for purchase at natural food stores, herb stores, and online from many different companies and herbalists.
However, the experience of gathering your own medicine, food, and herbs from the wild or from one’s garden is still a powerful act that can bring us a deeper connection to the sources of our nourishment.
Learning about the herbs available in our own neighborhoods and communities can provide us with a profound connection to the nature around us.
I have long loved the gifts of nature’s medicine, delighting in learning about the plants, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, and trees that are abundant in our world and provide us with nourishment and increased vitality.
Along my herbal journey, staples such as red raspberry leaf, nettle, and oatstraw have provided me with nourishing teas and infusions for women’s health.
I’ve consistently appreciated the healing balms of aloe leaf gel, the immune boosting benefits of echinacea and astragalus, and the digestive soothing of ginger and peppermint teas.
I’ve also grown to love the medicinal mushroom brews of reishi and chaga and more.
There is a global collection of herbal wisdom awaiting to be tapped into, just outside your door and in every ecosystem on this planet.
It is amazing and uplifting to contemplate the healing abundance available in nature all over this planet.
To begin learning about herbs, we simply need to step outside and look around.
We can sign up for a guided herb walk, visit a community garden, talk to herbalists at your local farmer’s market, or visit a natural food store and take a look at the bulk herbs and supplements.
Libraries and bookstores are great resources for excellent herbal books, such as Rosemary Gladstar’s “The Family Herbal” and “Herbal Healing for Women”, or Aviva Jill Romm’s “Natural Healing for Babies and Children”. Michael Moore has written several incredible herbal books, as has Michael Tierra author of “The Way of Herbs”.
Plant, wildflower, tree, and herb identification guides for your local bioregion or areas you travel and visit are in valuable. Workshops and classes are readily available today as herbal medicine is in the midst of a cultural renaissance.
In the past, women learned of herbal medicine from their mothers, grandmothers, or community wise women, and if you still have that available you are blessed. Luckily, we have many ways to bridge the gap with knowledge, and rediscover herbs to create new family traditions today.
Women today are reclaiming the herbal tradition of traditional herbalists and finding ways to empower their nutrition and health with nature’s medicine chest.
Herbs can provide nourishment for all of the cycles of women’s health. From menstrual health to menopause, in between and beyond, women are rediscovering the traditional remedies for herbal healing and prevention.
There are numerous herbs from around the world to support women’s health. Botanical medicine and simple home recipes with herbs for teas, infusions, tinctures, and poultices can support natural health in all cycles.
In my quest for natural health, when I seek greater nourishment, support, and health I turn to food and herbs first, before pharmaceuticals.
I look to the healing gifts of the forest, farm, deserts, and mountains to guide me back to my vital nature.
When I experience menstrual cramping I may find relief from crampbark tincture, when bleeding I may receive more energy and nourishment from nettle infusion, when pregnant I love red raspberry leaf infusion, when postpartum I take motherwort tincture to help stabilize my hormones and energy.
Herbal healing is a lifelong journey to discovering that our health is intrinsically linked to the ecology around us, and as we connect with nature’s gifts to heal our bodies.
How to Make Simple Herbal Preparations
Making an Herbal Tea
A tea is a drink of herbs that have been steeped in water.
Usually for medicinal herbal uses it is steeped for 10-20 minutes while covered, and is mostly used for flowers and leaves. Herbal teas are good for children, skin washes, and delicate plants or flowers.
Good herbs for tea include chamomile, elderflower, peppermint, and lemon balm.
Making an Herbal Infusion
An infusion is a strong brew of herbs that has been steeped in water while covered, for 4-8 hours. Infusions are easy to make overnight, preparing the night before and straining and drinking in the morning.
Infusions are longer water based steeping that extract the maximum nutrients from hardier parts of the plants particularly the leaves and stems.
Take a quart mason jar, fill with about one ounce of dried herbs or fill 2/3 way with fresh herbs, cover with boiling water, put the cap on, steep for 4-8 hours, strain, and drink.
The infusion can be warmed up and sweetened with honey, or blended into a smoothie or elixir, or kept cool and used within 3 days.
Good herbs for infusion include red raspberry leaf, nettles, milky oats tops, and oatstraw.
Making an Herbal Decoction
Decoctions are water-based herbal preparations for the hardiest of plant materials particularly roots and barks, as well as tree mushrooms.
To prepare a decoction, cover the herbs with spring water in a non-reactive pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes traditionally, or tree mushroooms such as reishi and chaga for 3 hours.
I also like to make longer brewed herbal decoctions in the crock pot and will keep adding water as needed for days. Strain and drink, sweetened with honey if desired.
Good herbs for decoction include ginger, astragalus, licorice root, yellow dock, dandelion root, reishi and chaga.
Making an Herbal Syrup
An herbal syrup can be made from any decoction, to extend the shelf life, and prepare a sweeter medicinal form that makes strong herbs more palatable, especially for children, cough syrups, and tasty herbal treats.
Simply take the strained decoction, and add an equal amount of sweetener to it.
I prefer to use raw honey or raw coconut syrup to sweeten it. The large amount of sweetener in an herbal syrup makes it stable to be stored in the fridge for months.
I have used this method to make my own herbal children’s cough syrups.
Also to make elderberry syrup for a winter’s supply of immune system boosting and respiratory illness fighting medicine.
Good herbs for a syrup include licorice, elderberry, and wild cherry bark.
Making an Herbal Tincture
Herbal tinctures are strong alcohol or glycerine based preparations.
Dried or fresh herbs are put into a clear bottle and covered to an inch or two above the herbs with 80 proof alcohol, such as vodka or brandy, or a vegetable glycerine.
The tincture is put in a dark area, such as a closet or pantry, and shaken every day or two.
Tinctures that you purchase at the health food store are usually only steeped for 2 weeks, but tradition herbalists will steep their tinctures for 6 weeks minimum, or even 6 months or a year.
I like to prepare my tinctures then strain and bottle them at least six weeks later, and sometimes leave them steeping for months until they are needed.
Strained tinctures are bottled in amber or dark-glassed bottles with dropper lids and are shelf stable for years and years, and always readily available.
Mix a dropperful with a small glass of water, juice, or tea and drink.
Good herbs for a tincture include motherwort, angelica, echinacea, goldenseal, dandelion root, and valerian.
Herbs can be prepared in a variety of ways depending upon the medicinal strength preferred and the application.
There are also many more ways to prepare herbs including herbal infused oils, salves, poultices, vinegars, liniments, powders, and in culinary arts.
You can also easily purchase prepared herbal products from many places, though you can save money and have fun by making your own herbal preparations yourself.
Herbs for Women’s Health
Relieves congestion in the pelvis and reproductive organs, useful for menstrual irregularities.
Angelica is the main ingredient in Swedish Bitters, a tonic remedy.
Supports painful menstruation, and may help to aid in birthing the placenta after childbirth.
Related to Dong Quai, the Chinese variety of angelica, which is better for long term use, while angelica is stronger for acute situations and short term use.
Supports the immune system, digestion, lungs, and reproductive organs.
I like to add the sticks of astragalus root to my stocks, soups, and simmered rice or grain dishes to infuse the herbal benefits into our daily meals, when done I take the root out.
The smaller chopped root pieces I will add to my teas that I simmer into decoctions or in the crockpot, including reishi or chai.
Calming and relaxing.
Chamomile benefits the nervous system and digestive system, thus creating numerous healing purposes from headaches, stress, insomnia, and digestive upset.
Chamomile is very gentle and safe for all ages.
Also is a useful hair rinse.
Great as a tea.
Relaxes the uterus, useful for menstrual cramps and excessive menstrual bleeding.
Also is used to prevent miscarriage in pregnancy.
Great as a tincture.
High in plant estrogens, useful for hormonal changes.
Great herb for the liver.
High in Vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals.
The leaves can be eaten fresh in salads.
The root is a strong medicine for a decoction or tincture.
Female tonic herb from Chinese medicine.
Gentle herb to strengthen and balance the uterus and safe for longterm use.
Nourished the blood, stimulates the liver, balances the menstrual cycle, and regulates the hormones.
Avoid use during pregnancy or menstruation.
Great for balance during peri-menopause.
Good as a tea, tincture, or powder.
Relieves congestion in the reproductive system, eases menstrual cramping, increases circulation in the pelvic area, calms the digestion, relieves nausea, and supports respiratory and bronchial issues.
Great for morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy.
Use fresh or dried, great for cooking, tea, infusion, decoction, baths, and poultices.
Relaxing, calming, and healing aromatic flowering herb.
Excellent herb for relieving stress and anxiety.
Use the fresh or dried flowers or essential oil.
Great for culinary use, teas, herbal baths, massages, and mists.
A slightly sweet and earthy root which is beneficial for stomach and heart problems, indigestion, and coughs.
Also supports adrenal fatigue and hormonal balancing for women particularly for fertility and menopause.
Good as a decoction or infusion.
The leaves of the motherwort are used to support heart and uterine health through menstruation, childbirth, and postpartum.
Promotes menstruation, eases menstrual cramps, brings upon childbirth, uplifts the spirit and emotions, prevents insomnia and depression.
Useful as a tea or tincture.
Nutrient dense green nettles infusions are excellent for building blood, supporting the immune system, and preventing allergies.
High in iron, calcium and magnesium.
Native American women used nettles as a remedy during pregnancy and birth to prevent hemorrhage and promote lactation.
Excellent for women in all cycles from menstruation and past menopause.
Great as a tea or infusion.
Calms the nervous system, supports good endocrine system health.
High in calcium and magnesium.
Great as a tea or infusion.
Useful for aiding digestion, soothing stomachaches, and calming fever.
Mints have an uplifting and rejuvenating quality upon the mind, emotions, and spirit.
Great in teas for flavor and healing benefits.
Red Raspberry Leaf
Tones the uterus, nutrient rich, healthful for menstruation, pregnancy, and all women’s cycles.
Excellent all purpose herb for women and men, builds healthy bones and teeth, lowers blood sugar, treats diarrhea, reduces fevers, and tones and firms pelvic muscles.
High in iron, calcium, and potassium, as well as a wide array of vitamins and minerals.
Treats stomach problems including indigestion, diarrhea, cramping, and flu symptoms.
Great as an infusion.
Medicinal tree mushroom.
Provides overall immune support.
Uplifts the spirit.
Excellent herb from Chinese Medicine with an extensive history of use for all ages and stages.
I keep a large pot on the stove of reishi and other mushrooms and herbs and brew it for days in the crockpot, drinking it as a tea, or a base for other teas.
The root is wonderful for supporting liver health. High in calcium and magnesium.
Use as a decoction or tincture.
Learning More About Herbs
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These are just a few of the common herbal remedies used by women for natural wellness.
There are many more wonderful herbs from all over the world and in your backyard and bioregion, that are nourishing, cleansing, and tonifying for whole health of women, men, and children.
Get to know one herb at a time, do your own research, and enjoy the healing gifts of plants!
Recommended Books About Herbs
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