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Herbs For Fertility, Menstruation, & Family Planning

*First things first, there are a limitless variety of concoctions for pregnant folks to be overwhelmed by. Every midwife and herbalist has their own special, often proprietary, blend of herbs for their clients to steep and drink throughout pregnancy and when/if certain pregnancy-related complications arise. Mine is no more or less special than the next one.*

Are herbals necessary for fertility and family planning? I would not go as far as to say that they are absolutely necessary. However, it is often safer, cheaper, and easier to try natural herbal options at home first, before trying prescription medications. Specific situations and complications should be discussed with your own personal healthcare provider before trying herbs or medications.

How do we make and take herbal remedies? It is not difficult to make herbal remedies. The only truly difficult part is the waiting! Below are the simple and easy methods I have used for years for myself, my family, and my clients. I have also shared simple and easy dosing instructions, but it is strongly advised that you seek the guidance of your own personal healthcare provider to make sure these are appropriate for you.

Basic Preparations: Tea – 2 teaspoons dried herbs per 8 ounces boiling water; steep 5-10 minutes. Infusion – 1 inch dried herbs in 1 quart canning jar; fill with boiling water; steep at least 2 hours (overnight is preferred). Decoction – 1 part dried herbs to 4 parts water; boil and then simmer until half volume; strain. Tincture – 1 inch dried herbs in 1 quart canning jar; fill with 100 proof vodka; steep at least 6 weeks (8-12 is preferred).

Basic Dosing: Tea – three 8 ounce cups per day Infusion – 1 quart per day Decoction – 2-4 tablespoons per day, or mixed into tea/infusion Tincture – 1 dropperful (approx 22 drops) in small amount of warm water held under tongue for 1-2 mins & then swallowed.

What herbs are commonly used for fertility and family planning? The following herbs listed are commonly used for fertility and family planning. I have given both their common name and their Latin name to help with identification. I have also included reasons why the herbs are used (what their functions are).

Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) – high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, b-vitamins, and high concentration of vitamin C; used for nausea, restful sleep, uterine toning, leg-cramps, immunity boost, PMS symptoms, and endometriosis.

Nettle Leaf/Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – very high levels of chlorophyll, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and trace minerals; used for allergies, asthma, hyPERtension, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, immunity boost, hair/scalp issues, UTIs, strengthens kidneys and adrenal glands, respiratory illnesses, and blood purification.

Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa) – provides chlorophyll, iron, calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, amino acids, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A; used for allergies, blood clotting, cleansing the blood, arthritis, gout, reduce cholesterol, hyPERtension, hyPERglycemia, and anemia.

Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)* – anodyne, emmenagogue, and galactagogue; used for regulating/supporting pituitary gland, normalising menstrual cycle, regulating hormones, and menopause support. *Can interfere with hormone birth control and hormone replacement therapy drugs.

Red Clover Leaf/Stem/Flower (Trifolium pratense)* – calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C; antifungal, antispasmodic, depurative, diuretic, estrogenic, tonic; used for menopause support, blood purification, and treating eczema. *Avoid taking large amounts in early pregnancy with history of miscarriages. *Also consult your healthcare provider before using if you are currently taking blood thinning medications.

Blue Cohosh/Squawroot Root (Caulophyllum thalictroides)* – phytochemical calulopsponin, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, hypertensive, parturient, and uterine Tonic; used for stimulating uterine contractions, ease labour pains, and for treating amenorrhea & dysmenorrhea. *Can cause miscarriage or premature birth. *Avoid with history of hyPERtension.

False Unicorn Root (Chamaelirium luteum) – steroidal saponins; emetic, estrogenic, and vermifuge; used for normalising luteal phase and miscarriage prevention; is very expensive.

Blackhaw/Stagbush Bark (Viburnum prunifolium)* – contains phytochemicals aesculetin and scopoletin; antispasmodic; used for relieving menstrual cramps, uterine pain, and preventing miscarriages; is used alongside or interchangeably with Cramp Bark/Stagbush Bark (Viburnum opulus)*; both are more economical alternatives to False Unicorn Root. *Avoid using either plants with history of liver or kidney problems.

Dong Quai Root (Angelica sinensis) – adaptogen, antispasmodic, antiviral, depurative, estrogenic, hepatic, and stimulant; used for amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, regulating hormones, menopause, menorrhagia, and PMS symptoms; is also used as an abortifacient.

Cotton Root Bark (Gossypium herbaceum)* – abortifacient; used for induced abortions, labour induction, treating metrorrhagia (bleeding between cycles), and to aid in stopping postpartum hemorrhage. *Caution: most commercial cotton is sprayed with pesticides and defoliants that can cause serious symptoms in humans and animals — to source Cotton Root Bark, only purchase it if the tincture is Certified Organic.

Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale) – contains oleoresin, fats, protein, starch, vitamin A, vitamin B, minerals, and amino acids; amenorrhea, arthritis, circulation, colds/flus, digestion, dysmenorrhea, and nausea; used for morning sickness, nausea, and uterine stimulant.

Parsley (Fresh) Leaf/Stem (Petroselinum crispum)* – has vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and iron; antibacterial, antirheumatic, diuretic, and emmenagogue; used for digestion and bringing on delayed menstrual cycle. *While it is safe to use while chest/breastfeeding to bring on a delayed/sluggish menstrual cycle, it can significantly diminish milk supply.

Recipes: The following recipes are based off of the herbal profiles above and how I typically prepare them in my practice, though I often have to adjust the accordingly for specific client needs. It is extremely important that you seek the advice of your healthcare provider before trying any herbal remedy or supplement. Herbs are strong Medicine.

Fertility Infusions: Vitex (2 parts) Red Raspberry Leaf (2 parts) Nettle Leaf (1 part) Alfalfa (1 part) Red Clover (1 part)

Add to above infusion: between menstruation and ovulation – Dong Quai (Angelica Root) (1 part) – always use with RRL, not alone.

Add to above infusion: between ovulation and menstruation – False Unicorn Root (2 parts) – very expensive, but great for history of miscarriages (more economical option is Blackhaw Bark); powerful uterine tonic and alkalises ovaries, kidneys, and bladder.

Emmenagogue Tinctures (bring on & regulate late/sluggish periods; to be used as single remedy tinctures): Angelica Root (Dong Quai) – Abortifacient Cotton Root Bark – Abortifacient; most effective up to 2 weeks late Ginger Root Blue Cohosh

Also: Fresh Parsley – safe while still chest/breastfeeding, but will cause a significant decrease in milk production; eat tons of it and juice it or add bunches to smoothies to bring on menstruation.

Sources Used: – Clinical Phytotherapy for Women’s Health, by C. Cabrera – The Book of Herbal Wisdom, by M. Wood – Medical Herbalism, by D. Hoffmann – Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy and Lactation: An Evidence-Based Approach, by E. Mills et al – Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide (3rd edition, 2010), by L. Braun and M. Cohen – The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, by M. Wood – The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, by M. Wood – Herbalism: An Illustrated Guide, by N. Shaw (Element Books Unlimited) – Family wisdom passed from elders down to me

{Disclaimer: Educational purposes only. This information is NOT medical advice or meant to diagnose or treat an illness. If you have questions or concerns, please seek the advisement of a physician, naturopath, or herbalist before using any herbal preparation for yourself or your family.}

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