Menstrual Cycle & Irregularities
The menstrual cycle describes the monthly cycle of preparation that optimises the conditions for a successful pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur then the blood and tissue that has been laid down in the uterus or womb is discharged and a woman has her period. Irregularities in the menstrual cycle are very common and may represent signs of another condition. These can be normalised with a combination of approaches that respect the natural cycles of life.
Many girls in industrialised countries now start their periods very young at about 10 or 11 and most girls have started by the age of 16. Amenorrhoea describes a condition where a girl of 16+ has not started her period or when she has missed her period for 3 months and is not pregnant. Possible causes include moderate or excessive exercising and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Physical or psychological stress may disrupt the cycle and, rarely, a tumour may cause hormonal problems. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may also experience amenorrhoea. Obviously any underlying condition will need to be resolved and lifestyle changes may be required to allow the sensitive hormone rhythm to become established. Herbs have a beneficial action on regulating the cycle and can also be used effectively to restore a monthly balance for those with an irregular cycle.
Menorrhagia describes excessively heavy periods or periods that last for too many days. Hormonal imbalance is a likely cause but it is always best to ask for expert help so that a clear diagnosis is made and any other underlying cause is eliminated.
Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumours in women of childbearing age. Most women with fibroids do not have problems with fertility and can conceive but this is not always the case. Fibroids may cause heavy menstrual periods (see above) and breakthrough bleeding throughout the month. Pain is an issue and over time there is a risk of developing anaemia.
Endometriosis is a condition where the specialised uterine tissue is found outside of the womb. This migrant tissue is under the influence of female hormones and reacts painfully during the period, which may also involve a heavy blood loss. It is estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile.
Dysmenorrhoea refers to painful periods, including severe menstrual cramps. The condition is usually not serious but it can be debilitating.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is discussed at this separate link - it can affect all age groups.
The peri-menopause and menopause describe lowering hormonal levels that bring to a close a woman’s fertility and the end of her childbearing role. While many women experience no difficulties during the long transitory stages that lead to the change of life, there are others who need to intervene with herbs, cleanses and natural healing in order to stay emotionally and physically supported during these years.
Hormone imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone is at the heart of many irregularities, but other areas to examine are the liver and thyroid. In conventional medical circles the main treatment for all these conditions is to use the contraceptive pill. If this is not a route that you wish to take for yourself or your daughters we recommend that you work with a qualified herbal practitioner to fully explore your unique situation and decide the best way forward. You can look for a practitioner through the registers of The Association of Master Herbalists and The College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Foods & herbs for the home
- Review your diet and work towards an understanding of the role that diet plays in maintaining a balanced hormone system. Hormones work collectively and do not necessarily follow the simple pathways that we think about when we describe their main role. You can learn more by reading Jill Davies’ book “Herbs, Natural Healing & Nutrition”.
- The adrenal glands need to be nurtured and protected from excess stimuli. Avoid excess of caffeine and alcohol because these place undue stress on the adrenals. EnergiRevive Powder is available as a free sample and may help with supporting overall hormone balance.
- Unhealthy animal fats place an undesirable strain on the liver, an organ that plays an active role in maintaining healthy hormone levels.
- Sugar cravings and the accompanying mood swings can be assisted with small amounts of organic very dark chocolate and EnergiRevive Powder.
- Maintain optimum mineral and vitamin intake by using Superfood Plus on a daily or twice-daily basis. Mixed with water and organic fresh fruit juice, this will also help to balance sugar cravings.
- Painful periods may be helped by reducing the effect of prostaglandins that cause cramping. Substitute unhealthy fats with oils rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 such as flax seed oil and organic olive oil. Evening primrose oil in supplement form may help, especially when balanced with omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil. Ask your health food store to recommend a good quality omega 3, 6 and 9 supplement that contains both these (vegetarians/vegans can find versions that contain omega 3 from seed oils).
- Read up about traditional female herbs such as vitex agnus castus. Have a look for books by Marilyn Glenville or Susun Weed who have written about herbs for female health.
- Fluctuating hormones affect mood – work with a qualified health practitioner if you are feeling low. You can find a qualified practitioner through The Association of Master Herbalists or The College of Naturopathic Medicine.
- Read about Ginseng by downloading Jill Davies’ book on this herb for free.
- Treat yourself gently and use essential oils in a calming blend such as Relaxing Massage Oil.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.
To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.