Womb Care for Excessive Menstrual Bleeding and Cramping
Recently I had my IUD removed after having it for over 10 years. I was over the heavy bleeding and the seven day duration of bleeding. I was aware of the heavy bleeding that was expected with the IUD and for years I just dealt with the exhaustion and depletion during and after each cycle. I would have to change tampons anywhere from five to eight times a day. When I used the Diva Cup, my cup just "runneth over" so I gave up on the cup. During this time when I had the IUD, I began working with herbs that would help staunch blood (styptic) incorporating herbs that would nourish my body and build blood a week before and during my cycle. I started to work with these herbs on a daily basis rotating with nutritive herbs like Oatstraw, Nettle, Horsetail were the main ones I worked with most. I will share the herbs that I have been working with over the years that have helped shut the gates and staunch the heavy bleeding, nourishing plants and plants that I use for cramping. The herbs I will mention have an array of medicinal actions and uses, I will focus on more so the uses of these herbs for excessive bleeding, lethargy and cramping.
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica a plant that has been gaining popularity in many Wild Foods, culinary blogs and Farm to Table restaurants, it is easy to cultivate too for those who live in the zones which it can thrive. Nettle is an herbaceous perennial that can take over a garden if allowed. It is an unforgettable plant because of that sting that is felt when one brushes bare skin against the plant. Some curse the plant because of that stinging feeling, but to shed some love and build appreciation of Nettle, it is a food source and plant medicine, having an affinity for uterine hemorrhaging, nose bleeds and where ever else in/on the body where there is bleeding. Maude Grieve described it as "an arrester of bleeding", it is an herb that midwives have employed for postpartum bleeding and this is due to Nettles astringent actions that assist in curbing excessive bleeding while the nutritive side of the plant assist in nourishing ones body. A herb, rich in vitamins, minerals and trace minerals it is just a great herb to have on a frequent basis aside of just for that time of the month. Being that is high in Iron it helps in replenishing the loss of iron with heavy bleeding. I typically start a week before I am due to start my cycle, loading up on making infusions and drinking teas of mineral rich herbs, like Nettle, Oatstraw, Horsetail. When Nettle is in season I like making soup with nettle. For those who do not have access to fresh Nettle, using dried Nettle will work. For folks in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree area, the Joshua Tree Farmers Market has a farmer who brings Nettle fro his farm in Redlands in the Spring. I have forgotten the name of their farm and his name but I do know that his son runs the fresh juice stand and his children will rotate working the produce stand. If you see the juice stand which is the ONLY fresh juice stand, ask him where his family's produce stand is. Nettle goes fast so get there early. If you can not find fresh Nettle, the best source of Nettle I have ever had was from Oshala Farm in Southern Oregon.
Nettle is also drying and for some who live in a dryer climate or tend to be dryer may find that Nettle is a bit too drying so what I like to do is balance it out with a moistening herb like Marshmallow or Jamaica (Hibiscus). I know from experience, living in the Mojave Desert an already dry environment, herbs that are drying will just dry me out, my skin is dryer, my nose and mouth dries up. So I found adding moistening herbs to be helpful. Nettle is also known for being a diuretic, I feel it is a milder than say Dandelion, but even with it being mild I found drinking a cup of tea or infusion before bed had me up in the middle of the night.
Cinnamon, Cinnamomum verum is an aromatic warming herb, commonly used in cooking, it is also an herb with an array of medicinal uses. Another herb that helps in "arresting bleeding" from excessive uterine bleeding to gastric, intestinal bleeding, nose bleeds. I have found it to help with painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) primarily because of the anti-spasmodic actions of Cinnamon. Being that Cinnamon is a warming herb, folks who's constitution is hot may find that it makes them "hotter", those who are experiencing "hot flashes" may find no relief with using Cinnamon as it will exasperate an already hot constitution and intensify the discomfort of hot flashes. For this I replace Cinnamon for other herbs like Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora (nourishing nervine + anti-spasmodic). I also like carrying a tincture of Skullcap with me because making a cup of tea is not always possible, especially when traveling or on the go.
Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora
An anti-spasmodic, that is also a nourishing nervine to the nervous system. One that also helps relieve pain, though there are stronger anodyne herbs out there, the unique factor about Skullcap is that it does not induce lethargy. One can still perform task and not feel "out of it". Well, except for that one time that my nerves were frazzled and I took 6 full droppers, I didn't feel well after doing that, I felt loopy and had to lie down, so lesson was, the difference between poison and medicine is dosage. So when it comes to dosage, a standard dose is 3 droppers every 3 to 4 hours, adding the tincture to your water or may folks will just take orally followed with water. I have found that one dropper full is effective when I am using it for menstrual cramps. For folks who are sensitive or do not consume alcohol you may consider making tea of Skullcap, you can source loose bulk plant from Oshala Farm , Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals or find a glcyerite made with Skullcap. HerbPharm usually offers Skullcap glycerite which is a non-alcohol based extraction using Vegetable Glycerin and Distilled Water. Plus glycerites just taste so delicious.
Loose Leaf or Tea Bags?
I prefer to not buy herbs in tea bags but either in an extract form like a tincture, glycerite, acetum or oxymel or I buy loose leaf for tea and infusions. The amount of herb placed in one tea bag is not a therapeutic dosage, but rather it is an amount that is more so for taste and not for medicine for example a pleasure tea. If all that you have is teabags then use two teabags rather than one, cut the teabags open and pour the loose herb into your tea cup and top off with hot water, I like using a saucer to place over the cup and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Strain, compost or give the herb back to the earth and enjoy.
I personally prefer to not use teabags (unless i am on the road and don't have access to straining etc) because I feel that the herbs are bounded up tight in a bag and not allowed to move around or dance. The same goes for those overpriced tea balls, the herb is just bounded up too tight in there like a tea bag it restricts the herbs from moving around. Tea strainers where you put the loose herb in the strainer and pour hot water over is not allowing the herbs to steep the needed amount of time. If anything it will get the flavor of the herbs but subtle at that. I love using a Bombilla Straw, these straws are not restricted to Mate but also to any herb with the exception of Mullein which I find the fine hairs of Mullein to be able to make their way through and into your mouth which is a bit irritating or you can use your teeth as a way to sift the herbs. But for this Womb Care Tea, because herbs like Cramp Bark, Cinnamon are used and being that these are barks, for proper extraction a decoction is best suited for these types of plant material.
I like to give the herbs space to stretch and do their magic!
Shepherd's Purse is best when prepared fresh when making a tea but tincture will suffice. I add 3 full droppers to my tea or take alone. You may find a Shepherds Purse glycerite for those who do not want an alcohol extraction. Now Shepherds Purse is a tincture that I have to add to water because the taste of the herb alone (in a tincture) is not the best tasting. I told my partner that it taste like I was eating fish oil.
WOMB CARE TEA
1 ounce Stinging Nettle
3 Cinnamon sticks or 2 heaping tablespoon of powder
1 quart of water.
3 DROPPER FULL Shepherds Purse tincture
1 quart jar with matching lid.
3 tablespoons Crampbark. (optional)
For those who have a hot constitution or experiencing hot flashes, formula below for replacing Cinnamon
COOLING WOMB CARE TEA
1/2 ounce Stinging Nettle
1/2 ounce Skullcap
1 quart of water
3 DROPPER FULL Shepherds Purse tincture
1 quart jar with matching lid.
Add herbs to a pot and bring a quart of water to a boil, keeping a lid on the herbs, Reduce to a simmer and give stir the herbs a few times during this process. I allow the herbs to simmer for a half hour and turn off the heat. Letting the herbs sit for an hour up to eight. Strain and compost or return the spent herb to the earth. I add 3 full droppers of Shepherds Purse tincture to a cup of tea or take the tincture alone.
This method of making a "tea" is actually called a decoction and letting the herbs infuse for a lengthy amount of time is known as an infusion. Whenever I use the decoction method it is always because I am working with dense, hardy, woody plants like roots, bark, dried berries, seeds and fungi.
When I am having heavy bleeding or cramps I drink 3 cups a day. A quart of tea will yield 4 cups of tea and I usually double my recipe so that I can have it ready for me when I need. I refrigerate what I don't drink right away. I listed Cramp Bark Viburnum opulus as "optional" because it is another anti-spasmodic, anodyne and is warming, so once again I would not suggest this for someone who tends to run hot or is having hot flashes. If you have Cramp Bark on hand and not cinnamon, you can easily swamp one out for the other.
I hope this helps you as I found it has been a formula that has helped me along with nutrition and supplementing with EFA fish oil in specific, adding more vitamins and minerals as part of my daily regimen.