Herbs To Support Your Menstrual Cycle, Not Just Your Period

Herbs To Support Your Menstrual Cycle, Not Just Your Period

We’re mad about herbs at Really Nice Tea. But it’s not just us. According to the World Health Organisation, 75% of the world's population uses herbs for basic healthcare needs, with archeological studies showing that the practice of herbal medicine dates as far back as 60,000 years ago.

Naturopath Brooke Oke is someone who knows more than a thing or two about using herbs for health purposes. We caught up with her to talk about how certain herbs can be beneficial at different points in your cycle, and how a cup of Really Nice Tea could be just the thing to help ease your symptoms.

With Brooke’s help, we take a closer look at the properties in particular herbs like peppermint, lady's mantle leaf, lemon balm and ashwagandha to find out why they've been used to support women's wellness for a millennia.

There’s so much information out there when it comes to supporting your body through its monthly cycle. It’s not just before and during your period that you might notice physical, emotional and energetic changes – each month, your body goes through a (roughly) 28-day hormonal cycle and with that comes a whole heap of subtle and not-so-subtle symptoms.

So, if you’re curious about supporting your cycle using herbs, you’ve come to the right place. 

First though, here’s a short overview of the four phases of your menstrual cycle. You can read more about each phase via the links below:

  • The menstrual phase (inner winter) is when you’re on your period and happens around days 1 to 5. 
  • The follicular phase (inner spring) is when your body is preparing for ovulation and happens around days 6 to 11.
  • The ovulation phase (inner summer) is when your body experiences a surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that triggers the release of a mature egg and occurs around days 12 to 14.
  • The luteal phase (inner autumn) is when your womb lining thickens, prepping for a potential pregnancy and occurs around days 15 to 28.

The menstrual phase of your cycle (your inner winter)

As defined by the Office on Women’s Health, menstruation is a woman's monthly bleeding, often called your “period.”

As oestrogen and progesterone drop suddenly, it is normal to feel more tired, insular and lethargic. It is also a time of relief for some and the start of another month of life, a process of cleansing and renewal. 

“Menstruation should be a time for us to rest and preserve our energy,” shares Brooke. “A lot of the time, we try to push through and keep up with modern life and expectations, however it is important to rest at this time so you don’t become depleted. 

Herbs to support the menstrual phase

  • Cinnamon
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Raspberry leaf
  • Ginger

Cinnamon, lady’s mantle, raspberry leaf and ginger found are all effective antispasmodic herbs that scientists believe may support blood flow to the uterus, which in turn can help to reduce spasms, reduce pain and aid cramping. The natural side effect of less spasm can also be less bleeding, so heavy periods can become lighter and more manageable. It's for this reason we chose to use these in the Really Nice Tea Inner Winter blend. 

The follicular phase of your cycle (your inner spring)

As outlined by Better Health, the follicular phase starts on the first day of your period and lasts for 13 to 14 days, ending in ovulation. 

In this phase oestrogen and ovulatory hormones FSH and LH are rising, which are all energising and stimulating hormones. We can naturally feel more energy, lightness and more balanced emotionally. When hormones are balanced, we can feel more creative, inspired and more focussed. Higher-intensity exercise is also great to take advantage of in this phase. 

Herbs to support the follicular phase

  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric

“Cleansing herbs such as rosemary, parsley and turmeric may support the liver to metabolise hormones and stimulate the lymphatic system,” explains Brooke. “This cleansing support may help to balance any spikes in hormones that may place us out of balance. Rosemary, in particular, is a nootropic herb that may support brain function and microcirculation, so can enhance cognition, focus and memory.”  This is why you’ll find these herbs in the Really Nice Tea Inner Spring blend. 

The ovulation phase of your cycle (your inner summer)

Better Health defines ovulation as being “when a mature egg is released from an ovary and moves along a fallopian tube towards your uterus. This usually happens once each month, about two weeks before your next period. Ovulation can last from 16 to 32 hours.”

With a peak in energising hormones at ovulation, we can feel more inspired and awake. This is the time to schedule social events, and meetings and take advantage of any opportunities, as you’ll often be feeling your best self in this phase! The spike in hormones like oestrogen in this phase can sometimes cause lower abdominal cramping, bloating and fluid retention. 

Herbs to support the ovulation phase

  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Aniseed

“Calming and circulatory herbs such as chamomile and ginger help to support a balance of hormones in this phase and to ensure the body remains in harmony,” shares Brooke. She adds, “Peppermint and aniseed may also help to reduce spasms and bloating.” As outlined by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the essential oil content in peppermint is particularly cooling and calming to the digestive system and has been used for health purposes for several thousand years. You'll find all of these herbs in the Really Nice Tea Inner Summer blend.

The luteal phase of your cycle (your inner autumn)

The luteal phase of your cycle, as outlined by Better Health, comes after ovulation. It’s at this time that the cells in the ovary (the corpus luteum)release progesterone and a small amount of oestrogen which causes the lining of the uterus to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, your progesterone levels will drop, the uterus lining sheds and the period begins again.

“Your luteal phase is the time when hormones such as progesterone should be rising,” shares Brooke. “We often experience an imbalance in mood and energy when progesterone is low or oestrogen is too high in this phase. Breast tenderness and fluid retention can also be common.”

Brooke goes on to share, “Supporting progesterone and serotonin levels in this phase may help to support a healthy mood, energy, digestion and sleep. Progesterone is important for peristalsis (bowel movement) and serotonin (sleep and mood hormone); when out of balance, we can have low mood, difficulty sleeping, headaches and constipation.”

Herbs to support the luteal phase

  • Ginger
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon balm
  • Ashwagandha

“Ginger, peppermint and lemon balm are all herbs with properties which may help to dispel gas,” shares Brooke, “helping to reduce bloating and fluid retention.” She goes on to say, “lemon balm is also a gentle brain/ovarian tonic that may support regular cycles and progesterone levels as well as support an imbalance in mood during this time.”

As cited in this Healthylife article, “lemon balm regulates the GABA system (a neurotransmitter, naturally produced by the body which promotes relaxation), and may help with mild anxiety and have a soothing effect that may help promote sleep.”  

According to Brooke, “Ashwagandha is another herb traditionally used to support mood and brain function; to gently calm the nervous system and help us adapt to stress.” 

A study conducted by Current Neuropharmacology looked at the effects of withania somnifera (ashwagandha) on stress and the stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders anxiety, depression, and insomnia and found that, while more research is required, “Ashwagandha root and leaf extracts exhibited noteworthy anti-stress and anti-anxiety activity in animal and human studies.”

So, there’s good reason the Really Nice Tea Inner Autumn blend contains all of these delicious herbs!

Really nice herbs

If you’re looking for some holistic support with your cycle, our Really Nice Tea blends might be just what you need. Each blend has been carefully created with the herbs that Brooke has been talking about, to ensure you’re getting the support you need at each phase of your menstrual cycle. Discover our full range today. 

Back to blog