Our Mother's Little Helpers

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Autumn is here, and with it the smell of leaves burning, crisp nights and early mornings with warm days. This is my favorite time of year. Energy slows down and thoughts turn to putting things up for the winter and in many ways putting ourselves up for the winter. Now there will be time to read all those articles and books that have accumulated during the summer months, and it's easier to drink hot teas and relax in the evening. This month I am going to focus on herbs that benefit the reproductive system. It seems like that is the energy that is floating in and out of my life. My cycles are changing as are those off my friends, there are pregnancies, both started and wanting to be started and there have been losses as well.

Let's begin with general uterine toners. These would be useful for use before pregnancy to increase fertility and in general to help regulate an erratic or changing flow. RED CLOVER FLOWERS have a high vitamin content which is exceptional for toning the uterus. It is also rich in mineral content which in turn tones all the glands in the body and therefore regulates hormonal levels. Using red clover flowers helps the body absorb calcium and magnesium and also helps with relaxation. It is sometimes combined with peppermint, making a tasty tea or infusion. Drink freely throughout the day and evening, hot or iced. NETTLE LEAVES have been discussed by me repeatedly. They are one of my favorite plant helpers. Nettles are a general nourisher and are especially good for the toning of the kidneys and adrenal. They also make a good uterine tonic. Again drink in infusion daily, one or more cups. RED RASPBERRY LEAVES are commonly mentioned as an effective uterine toner and safe tea/infusion to drink during pregnancy. They are often mixed with red clover blossoms and can be taken daily for months. DONG QUAI ROOT is also widely used, and is invaluable in normalizing menstrual periods. Dong quai is best used in combination with other herbs. It's strong stores of iron, folic acid, B-12 and phytosterols will help to regulate your cycle and help in diminishing spotting and flooding. Do not use if you are menstruating and the bleeding is heavy, if you have fibroids, if you regularly take aspirin or blood thinning drugs, if you are bloated or have diarrhea. If you experience extreme breast tenderness after using please discontinue use. FALSE UNICORN ROOT is considered a strong and powerful uterine tonic. It is sometimes referred to as "the" herb for infertility. It also has great beneficial effect on the ovaries, kidneys and bladder. It is hard to find and usually taken in tincture form.

Herbs to use during pregnancy are many and specific to certain problems that occur during pregnancy. Two of the herbs mentioned above are beneficial for overall use during pregnancy. RED RASPBERRY LEAVES give the following benefits when used throughout pregnancy: Helps to prevent miscarriage and hemorrhage by toning the uterus; eases morning sickness; and helps reduce pain during labor and after birth. again by toning the muscles used during labor and delivery. It does not counteract the pain of cervical dilation. Raspberry leaves do not strengthen the contractions but they do help tone the uterine muscles so that they can work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster. The high mineral content in raspherry leaves assists in milk production, but the astringency may counteract this in some women. NETTLE LEAVES, also mentioned above, make a good overall tonic to drink throughout pregnancy. You can alternate weeks with nettles and red raspberry. The benefits of drinking a nettle infusion include aiding the kidneys, a great benefit throughout the pregnancy. Nettle is very nourishing, full of vitamins and minerals that benefits both mother and fetus. It eases leg cramps and other muscle spasms. The high calcium content in nettles helps diminish muscle pains in the uterus, in the legs and elsewhere. Nettle is high in vitamin K and this helps decrease the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. It also helps reduce hemorrhoids and increases the richness and quantity of breast milk. Avoid false unicorn and dong quai during pregnancy unless instructed by a trained professional.

Menstrual cramps can be treated well with herbs. CRAMP BARK has a wonderful antispasmodic effect. Often used in infusion, I have a tincture of it mixed with wild yam and motherwort. Very, effective in a relatively short period of time. It is much easier on the stomach and liver than advil, just tastes a little "different." MOTHERWORT has a calming effect, but not sedating. It helps muscles unclench, moves tension out of your body and therefore is beneficial for cramping. A relaxed body and mind have great difficulty cramping. Motherwort encourages strong but not crampy uterine contractions. Use 5-10 drops of the tincture, which will usually relieve cramping within five to ten minutes, and may be repeated every ten minutes as needed. If you are bleeding heavily, you may want to limit your use of motherwort or watch yourself carefully. VALERIAN ROOT TINCTURE is good for cramping also. It can be more sedating than the other two, and in some women can be felt as invigorating. You will have to determine if you wish to use it. The taste is not pleasant, so do not be surprised!

I hope that the information has been helpful for some of you. I feel badly that the male readers have once again been left out. In the not to distant future I plan on covering herbs that pertain to men. I hope that your Autumnal gathering goes well, and that your harvests are bountiful and complete. It is a pleasure writing this for all of you.

Love and Light, Morrigan

Sentient Press.

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By Morrigan Benton-Floyd

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