The sweet dog days of summer are upon us, dropped out of the sky like an eagle on the hunt. As every lady is aware, summer means beaches, bikinis, and their best girlfriends. Unfortunately, another thing that comes along with these warm summer days? Uncomfortable PMS.
While we try to handle this time of the month with smiles and grace most of the year, something about the heat of the summer simply exacerbates this monthly visitor. Maybe it’s the humid nights, the uncomfortable pool parties, or the aches and cramps keeping you hiding inside on the most gorgeous of days, but the bottom line is that no one wants to be on their period in the summer! There is just too much to do and no time to feel uncomfortable!
The solution? Well, herbs of course! Mother Nature provides us with so many plants to help lessen the severity of our symptoms and make our days that much more tolerable. The blend I have concocted is meant to brighten your day, lessen the heaviness and bloat you may feel, balance your hormones, pump some iron back into your system, and nourish the uterus through vitamins and minerals. This is obtained through the medicinal qualities of the herbs put into it. These herbs include:
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
The flowers and leaves of St. John’s wort are well known for their effects on your mood. Mood balancing and enlightening, this plant is said to mildly reduce symptoms of depression and shine a ray of sunshine on your day. This use is alluded through its bright yellow petals that appear to be smiling at you from the field!
This lovely plant also exhibits slight sedative and pain-relieving effects, making it great for use during this time of month. It is considered especially effective for irritability and anxiety. Another fun fact about this herb is that if applied topically, it speeds wound healing and acts as an anti-inflammatory, making it great for sunburns and puncture wounds. One thing to note about St. John’s wort is that in high doses it may cause photosensitivity in some individuals.
Tinctures are often made with brandy, but in this case I used vodka because the active constituent Hypericin in St. John’s wort turns the tincture a bright rusty red color! It’s so fun!
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
The leaves of the raspberry plant, yes the same plant that gives you those juicy red berries in early summer, has long been used as a supporter of women’s health. It is one of the herbs that is considered safe and even recommended to consume throughout pregnancy because it helps strengthen and tone the tissue of the uterus, helping to prevent tearing of the cervix and hemorrhaging during childbirth.
The benefits it serves to those on their monthly moon are due to the high levels of iron it provides, something that you may be low on during this time of the month. This plant has the ability to decease a heavy menstrual flow, alleviating the pain and cramping that usually accompanies that as well. Raspberry leaves are also one of the highest herbal soures of manganese, a vitamin linked to a 50% increase in menstrual flow if deficient. This means that providing a little more manganese into the body during this time may be another way to reduce the uncomfortable heavy flow and cramping that you may experience.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle leaves are great for total body strengthening and support. This plant not only acts as a detoxifying agent in the body, but it’s also another great source of iron. Nettle is also a wonderful source of vitamin C, a double win since vitamin C helps in the bodies absorption of iron. To top the list of benefits of nettle, one cup can provide up to 43% of the recommended amount of your daily calcium, something every lady needs.
Looking for another way to pack nettle into your diet? Try my peppermint dark chocolate, stinging nettle smoothie!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
If you ever walk down a woodland path with an herbalist, one of the first plants they will point out to you is yarrow. This is in part due to the abundant growth patterns of this plant, but also because it is easily recognizable and a great medicine! The flowers and leaves of yarrow are well-known for their ability to stop bleeding and hasten wound healing. As in the case with your period, it won’t stop your bleeding, but it can cause it to be less severe which can reduce cramping. This plant is also a wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic, which may benefit you as well during this time.
To make your menstrual relief tincture, you will need:
3 parts St. John’s Wort flowers and leaves
2 parts raspberry leaves
2 parts stinging nettle leaves
1 part yarrow flowers and leaves
1 pint sized jar
80-100 proof vodka (or brandy)
Place fresh St. John’s wort flowers and leaves into a pint sized jar, following with the raspberry, stinging nettle, and yarrow plant parts. With tinctures I usually measure in parts instead of quantities simply because I am using fresh herbs. It’s rather simple to measure with your eyes, but with all of the plants in the jar, it should be about 1/3 of the way full. Pour vodka over the mixture, submersing plants fully, cover and label the jar with the date, plants used, and the amount of each plant used.
Place the jar in a corner somewhere where you will remember to shake it daily. Don’t put in direct sunlight, but a little light won’t hurt.
After 3-4 weeks, strain out the herbs and discard. Pour the remaining tincture into a glass tincture bottle. Label with date and ingredients.
A week before your period is scheduled to start, take 2 – 4 mL (~ 1/2 tsp) of tincture up to three times daily, continuing until symptoms subside. This tincture is not recommended for prolonged use, so discontinue use when not needed.
The best part about this tincture? All of the ingredients are readily available for wildcrafting this time of year!