We’ve been chatting stress and periods with medical herbalist Natasha Richardson, as part of our #TalkingPeriods campaign. Here she tells us all about the role stress has on our periods and what herbs can help.
Natasha helps women have better periods. She runs an online course, accompanied by natural products, which you use to create your own self-care ritual. She doesn’t believe our wombs should feel like a curse. By using natural remedies and lifestyle tips, it’s possible to come to love your vagina again.
We all learnt about stress at school. If you were lucky, you even learnt that stress can affect your periods. But it’s less likely you learnt how to identify stress and even less likely how to stop it affecting your periods.
I find more often than not that my patients don’t see themselves as stressed. The trouble is, when you have been stressed for a long time it feels so normal you don’t even know it’s there. Hans Seyle (1907-1982) called the second stage of stress; adjustment. What most people don’t realise is that, although you might not feel stressed, your body is. This stress, that you can’t feel, will be showing you signs through your body.
The Signs of Stress:
We all need to learn to read stress signs if we’re going to stop it from affecting our periods.
– Coffee/stimulant requirement every morning
– Difficulty falling/staying asleep
– Sugar cravings
– Sleepiness in the morning before lunch
– Falling asleep from exhaustion on the sofa at the end of the day
– Feelings of melancholy
– Catching colds easily
– Increase in allergies.
How Stress Can Affect Our Period:
The trouble with stress is that it’s a survival method. The body can either make cortisol (a stress hormone) or progesterone (a pregnancy/period hormone) it can’t do both. This is called the progesterone steal. It protects us from getting pregnant at inappropriately dangerous times of life. It’s normal for periods to change in length every cycle slightly depending on what you’ve been up to. But if your periods stop for a few months you must get this looked at by a doctor before seeing a herbalist. This is so you can decide what treatment is best for you.
Herbs to Help:
If you are going through a stressful time right now and have noticed the length or quality of your period change here are a few herbs which might help. They’re not hormonal in action so they won’t interact with whatever contraceptive you use. But it’s important you still check that they will suit you with a qualified person such as a doctor.
(Withania somnifera) is an Indian plant coming from the Ayurvedic tradition. Using it strengthens the adrenals and supports the immune system. Great if you tend to come down with colds when stressed or struggle to sleep. I’d recommend making Ashwagandha milk every day get the recipe here.
(Avena sativa) is a nerve tonic. It helps to heal the nervous tissues and reduce their sensitivity. This makes it good for reducing anxiety and nervousness.
(Crataegus laevigata or oxycantha) is a cardiovascular tonic. Excellent for balancing both high and low blood pressure by strengthening the entire system. It can help with anxiety, palpitations and sleep troubles alike.
You can easily make a tea combining all these but I’d recommend having the Ashwagandha milk as one drink and the Oat and Hawthorn as a tea. Combine the Oat and Hawthorn in equal parts and use a teaspoon to every cup of boiling water you make. Infuse for 5-10mins before drinking and have this throughout your day. You will need 2-3 cups to get the full effect. You’d drink these throughout the month to affect your period.
Too often women assume doing something on the day of the period is enough. It’s far too late by then. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do for a better period I run an online course which you can access here.
A huge thank you to Natasha for writing this blog for us! You can visit her website here, follow her Instagram here and her Twitter here. Have you been through a stressful time and found it affecting your period? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @totmorganic. Remember to use the hashtag #TalkingPeriods to join our campaign and help us lose the period taboo! Don’t forget, everyone that uses this hashtag will be in with a chance of winning a 6-month TOTM subscription.
- Singh, (Mrs.) R. Nath, (Miss) A. Lata, S. P. Singh, R. P. Kohli & K. P. Bhargava, (2008) Withania Somnifera (Ashwagnadha) a rejuvenating herbal drug which enhances survival during stress (an adaptogen) International Journal of Crude Drug Research [Online] Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13880208209083282 [Accessed: 13 September 2017]
- Singh, S. De, A. Belkheir (2011) Avena sativa (Oat) A potential neuraceutical and therapeutic agent: An overview. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [Online] Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2010.526725 [Accessed: 13 September 2017]
- Kumar, V. Arya, Z.A. Bhat, N.A. Khan, D.N. Prasad (2012) The genus Crataegus: chemical and pharmacological perspectives. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. [Online] Available at: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S0102-695X2012005000094&script=sci_arttext [Accessed: 13 September 2017]