For this week’s HeyDahls question, I’ve asked my friend and DC herbalist April Ramee of Antler Alchemy to join me as a guest expert on moon cycles and feminine rhythm and flow.
Q: My PMS pains are getting worse. Pre-period symptoms begin 10 days before my cycle and I experience intense pain and cramping all over my body. I have had cramps all my life but it has been getting worse after 30. My doctor says I should take painkillers or get on the pill. Do you have any diet or lifestyle recommendations to relieve painful PMS?
A: Thank you for writing in. The PMS symptoms you are experiencing are perhaps manifestations of more systemic chronic inflammation. And like many chronic inflammatory disorders, there is no quick fix here. The path to healing these symptoms will be a process of slow, deliberate, patient embodiment. So, I’ve asked my girl April to join us in fielding your question. Take it away April!!
Sacred Moon Time
by April Ramee
There are many ways to nourish the body, soul, and mind during menstruation or I like to call it, the moon time. This term is used because similar to the moon a woman has a cycle that lasts between 28-32 days. During the time of mensuration there can be pains, aches, and discomforts. This stems from many different reasons such as hormonal changes, diet, stress, and sometimes more serious issues such as dysmenorrhea, fibroids, endometriosis, imbalanced hormones, and more. Today I will discuss some lifestyle recommendations, herbs, and supplements. While this list is short, there are more herbs available and I suggest meeting with an herbalist to discuss which ones are right for you.
Most importantly is diet. Eating the right foods for your body is the most important aspect of life and thank your lucky stars you have found Live Deliciously. In general, avoiding foods that are processed and high in sugars and gluten is beneficial for the moon time, which can be challenging if your comfort foods are in that list.
Sleep! Get rest. I know this can be challenging but lack of sleep can create higher stress, which is also high on the list to avoid in life. Stress harms our body in so many ways and creates imbalances. These imbalances can cause a more painful moon time.
Change your products to organic or the cup. The extra pesticides and materials that are in our tampons and pads can cause irritations and sensitivities which may play out in cramps and painful menstruation. Not to mention, they are harmful for the environment as well. With a cup you decrease your dependency on needing a store every month for tampons or pads and can form a deeper connection to your cycle.
Now that we cover a short basics, let us dive into the juicy part, the herbs, because quite frankly, avoiding stress, eating the best, and changing our products does not happen all at once, but if we support ourselves with herbs we can move slowly into more changes.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – an herb best for nervous tension and cerebral overstimulation. Sedates without causing drowsiness and works wonders on spasms. A wonderful choice for the woman who is over worked, unable to sleep, stressed, and having spasms, uterine congestion, painful cramping, and more.
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) – The name of the plant speaks to the mother or the womb. This plant is a sedative in the mint family that is calming to nervousness due to female hormonal changes and a heart tonic. A bitter herb that relaxes the uterus helping with cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease, irregular menses, nervous tension, spasms, and more. **Not recommended during pregnancy**
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – A favorite herb of mine that is for the wounded warrior, which means it has a deep affinity for the blood. Not only is this herb great for starting your menses it helps stop it if there is too much blood. Wonderful remedy for inflammation of the ovaries, menstrual cramping, endometriosis, fibroids. Every woman should have this herb on stock in multiple forms for any wound and cycle times.
- Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) – A sweet, astringent herb that tones the uterus and intestines rather than relax which may be needed for those women with irregular flow, pain due to uterine weakness, and diarrhea.
- Nettles (Urtica dioica) – While this plant is not normally known for menstrual pain, it is a wonderful nourishing tonic for the well being of the blood, kidneys, and more through providing iron, magnesium, vitamin b, a, d, and other minerals. The best way to drink this herb is every day in an overnight infusion.
As always with the diverse world of plants, there are more healing allies available but these are some of my top favorites. Visit your herb store for the plants to enjoy in a tea, infusion, or tincture. You can dive into one plant and take notes on how the plant effects your cycle. Or due to the complexity of humans and our needs, you may need other supporting herbs in conjunction of one of the above, check in with your local herbalist on the best combination for yourself.
If you have any questions, concerns, recommendations write to April Rameé the founder of Antler Alchemy an herbal apothecary and clinical practice in Washington, DC.
FB: Antler Alchemy